Connie Crosson serves as the UN Representative for The Federation of the Experiment in International Living. She is a graduate of SIT, a former member of the US Committee for UNICEF and the director of a nonprofit management training and consulting firm for nonprofit organizations. Connie is also the proud mother of an Experimenter, as well as a host mother to many. Below she shares her reflections on the United Nations 57th Commission on the Status of Women.
Imagine walking into a very large hall and seeing thousands of women – young to old – greeting each other, meeting for the first time, exchanging business cards and flyers, and advertising their numerous workshops and panels.
I arrived seriously early (8:30 on a Sunday morning!) to meet other boards members and students from World Learning’s SIT Graduate Institute (our US Federation member), and to secure a seat. This meeting (The Consultation for NGOs) introduced some of the themes to be discussed over the next two weeks.
Trafficking was dynamically introduced by a troupe of 15 young women, speaking of their own experiences, in song and dance – a stark contrast to the horror of their experiences of abduction, commerce, drugs and brutal abuse. Their touring show, Girl Be Heard, dramatizes the lives of thousands of young girls and women.
A panel discussed a host of issues–from femicide, to child brides, sex and labor trafficking, domestic abuse, and HIV/AIDS. The final panel, “Involvement of Men and Boys,” presented a few examples of programs, like the Ring the Bell Campaign; as well as action curricula, like that created by WAGGS.
Over the course of two weeks, I attended some powerful workshops and panels by NGOs from many countries, expanding on the conference themes with many examples of violence against women and girls inherent in cultures, traditions, laws and media.
CSW57 registered over 6,500 NGO participants (mostly women) from all over the world and every imaginable women’s NGO. I think the sheer number of NGOs overwhelmed the rest of the UN by their determination and enthusiasm. More than 500 participants offered (and attended) workshops, panel and events over the two week period of the Commission’s delegation meetings. Many NGOs hoped to influence the considerations of the Commission’s deliberations and eventual Agreed Conclusions.
The UN events that stand out for me most were the Opening Session and International Women’s Day. On opening day, 131 delegates (and their staffs) shared the achievements and challenges of their home country with regard to violence against women and girls.
While on International Women’s Day, conference rooms overflowed with women, many in native dress, for the launch of One Woman, a song created specifically for UN Women. A spirited march in front of the UN Secretariat highlighted the day.
All in all, it was an exhausting, spirited, inspiring and challenging two weeks. Both the delegates and the UN agencies expressed deep appreciation for the invaluable work by NGOs around the world.
Federation EIL has held consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council as a nongovernmental organization in Category II since 1978. In 1989, Federation EIL was recognized as a Peace Messenger organization by the United Nations Secretary General.