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The Great Tent: CSW54
Dawn Marie Lemonds,
International Programme
Director, reports on the 54th
Commission for the Status of
Women held in New York
Eight days at CSW and the women converged once again more empowered women from practical, accessible work that
Global Forum... how to describe to learn, share, and shake up Africa. More women are now our members do locally and
it? It finally came to me - the the government delegations on in positions of power across the globally, particularly in the area
Great Tent! I was sitting in critical issues. world and more girls get primary of human trafficking.
overflow Room 2 when the The women’s emotions are the education. We have heard so many times
translation for the room was same - eagerness, frustration, Each CSW has its own that we are an organisation
accidentally put into Chinese intensity, compassion and challenges, CSW 54- Beijing that does the work - not
instead of English. anger, each pursuing the dream +15 was no different; there is so just talks about it. Finally, I
The room, buzzing with of women achieving peace, much to report. The SI website bring increased commitment
discontent, reminded me of opportunity and an equal share and www.beijing15.org website to the importance of wisely
the tents I sat in 15 years of the planet. The tent is also a have more highlights. choosing work that matters,
ago in Huiroa, China; rain good metaphor in that the work I bring home a sense of and measuring the impact of
spattering on the tent, mud is not easy, the paths through community and commitment. I what we do rather than just
seeping through the seams, the halls of communication are bring pride in SI’s high profile; the output given. I bring back
and yet we all sat there eager not always clear, yet women our largest ever delegation of energy; the faces, voices and
to learn, understand, and share still come and focus on the work Soroptimists presented more stories of women and girls, from
our thoughts on issues in The needed for our world. workshops than ever and have my neighbourhood and in lands
Big Tent Of Women’s Issues. I noted an increasing number been invited to give a verbal far from me, that need our vital
Now, 15 years later, the BIG of women in the government “intervention” at a high level work and voice.
TENT continues, the most delegations, a much greater government panel. I bring the We must take global action
marvellous annual experience attendance of young women reality that Soroptimists received for women as well as being the
called CSW where thousands of who are finding their voice, and a great deal of attention for the global voice for women.
“We are not invitees to this planet. We are participants.” Our job is to participate. What issues
involving gender equity are you passionate about? Can you change it, fix it, or advocate for it?”
One remarkable performance was by children from 4 to 18, each quoting famous and
provocative lines from Mohammed, the Bible, Oprah Winfrey, Will Smith, Buddhism, Martin Luther
King, Shakespeare and more. Then songs from past decades until today, showing the changing
‘face’ of women from insipid ‘airheads’ in South Pacific’s “I enjoy being a girl” to a 15 year old’s
rousing rendition of Aretha Franklin’s R-E-S-P-E-C-T! The Children’s Theatre Workshop and
their rousing performance, ending with ‘One World’, captivated our hearts!
“We have come a long way, we are not there yet but we know where we are
SI delegation braves the New York chill going and we know how to get there” Liz Law on peace in Northern Ireland
A riveting presentation represented critical issues for women in the six regions of the world
- Asia and the Pacific, Europe, Middle East and Arab Region, North America, Africa, and Latin
America/Caribbean. Each showed that we are all women but we do not all have the same issues
of urgency; in the Middle East, their issues are fundamental, women want to be recognised as
human, in Africa, women are viewed as human and advances have been made in education and
empowerment - but poverty, violence and health are issues of monumental import. After the
session, Regional Teams met and identified their critical issues, and discussed strategies. These
will be brought by NGOs to the Caucuses and meetings with their missions and delegations.
SI President Hanne & friends at CSW
“Two and a half days of military spend to save the lives of women and girls”
Speaker referring to the cost of delivering MDG 5
One session was titled “Fulfilling the Promise of Gender Equality, Peace, and Development:
Women, Peace and Security, Strengthening Institutional Mechanisms, World Economic Crisis,
Building Women’s Leadership and Millennium Development Goals”- the title was daunting but
the information was extremely interesting. A highlight included a reading by Lynn Nottage from
her Pulitzer Prize play “Ruined”; the story of a woman from the Congo whose baby was stamped
on by soldiers followed by 5 months of continuous rape. She went back to her village when she
SI briefing during CSW escaped and was a pariah for “allowing herself to be raped.” This will haunt me forever.
TIS TIS March March 2010 2010 PagPage 4e 4
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