UN NGO Chronicles Highlights of 2018 Commission on the Status of Women
“Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls” was the priority theme of this year’s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW62). The review theme was “Participation in and access of women to the media, and information and communications technologies and their impact on and use as an instrument for the advancement and empowerment of women.” Together, these themes led to an unparalleled opportunity for participants to engage with member states, U.N. agencies and other civil society members in the advancing of gender equality. More than 10,000 participants were registered from around the world, and all who attended received plenty of information to inspire work at the local level upon their return home.
This year we welcomed to New York City 72 Loretto and BVM high school students, teachers, college students and Loretto Volunteers to the March 12-23 CSW62. Through our work with the Working Group on Girls (WGG), as U.N. Rep, I contributed to the training of chaperones at the WGG Teen Orientation. Simultaneously, Loretto Volunteer Mary Louise Pabello was providing orientation for her Loretto Volunteer peers at the home of Paulette Petersen. Mary Louise and I held reflection sessions with each visiting group of high school students as the week progressed and were deeply grateful to be joined by BVM associate-in-process Sherry Wright, an assistant professor at Clarke University, in this process.
As co-chair of the WGG Mission Advocacy Committee, I was involved with a Women Leaders’ Luncheon on March 13 that connected 19 girl advocates with more than a dozen female U.N. Ambassadors and dignitaries. We used our CSW62 statement, entitled “Girls: Breaking Barriers,” to help prep the girls for fruitful conversation. We also co-sponsored two parallel events — one with the Anti-Fracking Sub-Committee of the Mining Working Group on best practices to fight fracking in the United States and Ireland. We also collaborated with Mercy Action International, the Salesians, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese and the RSCJs on a panel focused on the importance of SDG #6 (Water & Sanitation) for rural women and girls. Both panels featured grassroots Kentucky activist Chris Schimmoeller, who came at our invitation to New York City and brought her two daughters and her daughter’s friend to experience a few days of CSW62. For more on Schimmoeller’s visit, go to https://www.state-journal.com/2018/05/20/get-to-know-chris-schimmoeller-daughters-attend-united-nations-conference/
Finally, the work of our nascent U.N. Curriculum Committee bore great fruit. As Kathy Baldwin-Heitman reported last month, our goal is to “help future students and chaperones to feel less overwhelmed and enable them to more quickly engage in the ‘so what’ part of the experience” of CSW. Our post-CSW62 Google survey yielded a fabulous response rate of 63 per- cent and reports of overall positive experiences. We still have our work cut out for us to make clear all of the different actors and pathways for action at the United Nations, and the next step is to invite several students and chaperones who already attended CSW to work with us as advisers as we proceed.
In the future, our hope is to create lesson plans for delegates, although exact plans for the 2019 CSW are in flux, as our office will not have a Loretto Volunteer in 2018-19. We are busy exploring alternate pathways for assistance and hope still to be able to welcome a much smaller number of delegates. We appreciate any and every opportunity to encourage young leaders to take initiative to make positive change, and we are excited to provide global and experiential learning opportunities for the Loretto Community and beyond.