It’s early in the morning, Monday 4th 2013, here in New York and Kristina and myself are getting ready for today: the Commission on the Status of Women, 57th Session, starts today. So, in an hour we leave our tiny but lovely hotel room for the United Nations Headquarters. A dream is coming true.
But before we dive into the new day, I want to share with you some reflections of yesterday. I was too tired to write this blog entry last night, after a long and in many ways fantastic day.
This is a funny photograph if you look at the badge: while eating dinner in a Zen-Vegetarian-Restaurant I noticed that Kristina had her badge that way… We anyway like our business cards more than badges and our business cards were popular like warm buns (as we say in German).
Every evening Kristina and I will write a short report of the day and we started this routine last night – despite overwhelming tiredness. And it is actually fun to sit and reflect what happened during the day, what we can do better the next day, what we did well, what results we already were able to deliver. I will not expose you to the whole report but to a few thoughts only:
So, yesterday we attended to NGO CSW Forum Consultation Day, at the Armenian Convention Center. The idea is to gather civil society one day before the CSW57 kicks off.
Yeah, one of the worst photographs I ever took. I am trying, though.
We learned that 6000 civil society representatives are in town for the CSW57. 6000 from all over the world. That’s amazing and shows how many people in the world care for the issue of elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls. 6000!
And to be honest with you, Kristina and I could feel during the whole day: This really matters. The NGOS CSW Forum Consultation Day gathered almost 800 participants, mostly women, but all of them deeply caring for their fellow human beings who are exposed to atrocious situations and experiences. You hear testimonials throughout the day of panelists and people from the audience about being a victims of rape, a survivor of domestic violence, you hear stories of little girls from all over the world and young women and elderly women. Yesterday, after having understood and explored the political and policy dimensions, the social and academic dimensions of the problem of violence against women and girls, yesterday I understood and explored the emotional dimension.
We also listened to and talked with some inspiring people who run fantastic projects and campaigns, organisations and initiatives. It’s inspiring to listen to then and learn about their heart driven commitment and know-how and it is inspiring to discuss with them and realise that they in fact appreciate the work we do.
Alcohol use plays a major role in gender-based violence, for example in domestic violence. And alcohol use was mentioned a number of times throughout the day: in a session on men’s role in ending gender-based violence we heard of recommendations from South Africa about the need for reducing alcohol use; in a session about innovative social media campaigns we learned that US college campuses are soaked in alcohol which poses tremendous risks for rape and harassment of young women.
Yesterday we talked a lot about stories, that this age is the narrative age. It means that civil society needs to realize that using the stories that often lie behind involvement and engagement and activism for change are essential to be voiced and spread. Facts and evidence need to be complemented with these stories
And this is what Kristina and me are prepared to do during this week, too.
It was also a bit like a crazy market place where so many people tried to recruit participants to their Parallel Events. This is one that we’ll attend.
IOGT International has an important role to fill and is pretty unique in being the global community of membership-based NGOs that do brilliant work on all levels at the same time being an umbrella that has the capacity to engage in advocacy in the highest level. We are two of the 6000 here in New York right and many more from all over the world who do amazing work for gender equality, freedom and development.
We have gathered some of the stories from around our membership and will voice these stories, because they matter and they do make a difference.
This is one slide. It contains four diagrams. We had fun during the entire presentation because it was often off-topic and hard to follow.