Strong Heart Blog - UNCSW Consultation Day

United Nations Commission on the Status of Women - Day 1
March 8, 2015
By: 
Cohen G Adkins, Chickahominy, Diocese of Virginia

Strong Heart shares the perspective of Indigenous young adults in The Episcopal Church.

The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women NGO CSW opened this year with a most inspiring event. NGO CSW is the organizational alliance of all Non Governmental Organizations involved in the Commission on the Status of Women. NGO CSW’s opening event was held at the famous and historic Apollo Theatre. Women of all ages and ethnicities lined themselves down the block in front of the Apollo in Harlem NYC in anticipation of Consultation Day. The event was subtitled: “Celebrate the Feminist and Women’s Movements 1975- 2015.” From an international panel of women advocates from around the world to the most amazing, Ruchira Gupta, “Women of Distinction Awardee” and “The Selling of Innocents” documentary maker, this year’s first day activities both emphasized the worldwide activism of women to promote that “women’s rights are human rights” and encouraged many to continue the fight. This 59th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women is also the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Platform, a ground breaking tool that was established in 1995. The Beijing Platform highlights 12 critical areas of concern involving that status of women. These areas include: women and poverty, education and training of women, women and health, violence against women, women and armed conflict, women and the economy, women in power and decision-making, institutional mechanism for the advancement of women, human rights of women, women and the media, women and the environment, and the girl-child.

      At Consultation Day, the spirit of the many international women activists throughout the past 40 years was celebrated with film clips from UNCSW 1975, 1980, 1985, and 1990. There were moments of these clips when the voice of a certain activist played over and through a montage of clips of international women marching and representing for their cause that brought chills to my body and a stronger sense of purpose to my intentions.

     Keynote address speaker Ruchira Gupta encouraged the auditorium, filled all the way to its third balcony with international NGO activists, to not forget the last girl. The last girl, that girl who is impoverished and indigenous and dark and low caste, deserves just as much attention and access to the human rights undeniable to us all. As Gupta said, it is not until we lift up the last girl that all women will experience equality.

     The morning panel of Consultation Day examined both the achievements of different global region’s governments in implementing the Beijing Platform and the challenges to further acceptance of and development of the 12 areas noted by the Beijing Platform as critical to the fundamental rights of women. It remains a conundrum of common sense in many ways that there are countries of this world in the year 2015 that still find the 12 areas of concern to be high orders and non-essentials at that. However, in this statement in itself I realize a sort of condescending Western tone to my thought. Just as I listened to the discussions of the panelists, I realized that these matters I might write-off as easily decided or “common sense” are still influenced by complex and nuanced cultural, religious and social mores that are not so easily tackled despite the pervasive and insistent voices of NGOs and women’s groups from across the globe.

     Nonetheless, the importance of fully supporting and promoting the adoption of the Beijing Platform’s critical areas of concern on a global scale by each nation cannot be denied and the need to support women from each of the corner’s of the globe in their strides towards empowerment is equally imperative.

    This Consultation Day for NGO CSW opened with a performance by a quartet of beautiful international ladies. They sang to us in a myriad of languages, languages as varied as their dressage and coloring. Each lady held the audience captive with her strong gaze and melodic voice. To me this performance set the tone for the entire week of UNCSW 59. It served as a representation of the many varied and beautiful faces, religions, customs and cultures here in New York City these next two weeks. It reminded me of the importance of collaboration and voices united in demands. Women united in song and sympathy can accomplish anything.

Perspectives shared on this blog are from the personal experience of Indigenous Peoples in an effort to raise awareness while they attend events alongside the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.