CSW Blog Special! "Soroptimists – We Need to Talk"

Wow – it is now one year since we launched the SoroptiVoice Blog
at CSW 55! And now we are back again, reporting live from CSW 56! Thank
you to our team of Soroptimist delegates who will be keeping us up to
date with all the latest news from New York. Here is the final update from International Programme Director Hilary Ratcliffe as her time in New York came to an end this past weekend. This Friday we will be hearing from SI International Assistant Programme Director Anusha Santhirasthipam, and then on Friday 16th Catherine Evans will be filling us in on the events of the second week of CSW. Thanks ladies!
 

Forty
Soroptimists descended on New York for this year’s Commission on the Status of
women (CSW). The priority theme was “The empowerment of rural women and their
role in poverty and hunger eradication; development and current challenges”. So
how did we affect this commission?

We
held several workshops, one called from “From seeding to feeding: The role of
women and girls across the life cycle of food”. This was a panel discussion
attended by over 100 delegates. Read my last update for more info on this session and the great learning experience that came from partnering with Solar Cookers International!

We
facilitated an interactive workshop on “Violence against rural women and girls:
Experiences and solutions“. This workshop had the unique idea of videoing the
speakers and also the question and answer session. This will be made into a
short film which will be shared with all our members and the participants in
the workshop who were WAGGGS (World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts),
YWCA, and The Friends of  Cambodian
Child`s Dream Organisation as well as our own member from SI South West
Pacific, Programme Director Robyn Cain.

We
shared in presentations with the Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund on
“Rural women and girls: issues in
maternal health". SI SWP President Yvonne Simpson and International Programme
Director Reilly Dempsey both spoke on the panel.

We
were co-sponsors showing a series of films made by Abigail E Disney called
“Women War and Peace". This included a film about the war in Afghanistan and
“Pray the Devil Back to Hell” about the war in Liberia.

We
made an oral statement in a panel discussion in the main session. This means we
were allowed three minutes to speak as a
chosen NGO (Non-Governmental Organization). It is unusual to be chosen and we
consider that we have done extremely well to get this opportunity! We may also get to make a further
statement in the second week. We are ready to go and just need the green light
to make it!

Delegates
spent their time networking. They had a package of materials to give out including the fabulous Global Impact Report CDs. They
were given ideas that SI wanted shared with government delegations and other
delegates. Wherever possible, meetings were held with government missions.
Planning meetings and caucuses were attended, all aiming to influence the final
statement which will be issued at the end of this commission.

All
delegates have been asked to feed back their experiences which will be collated
into a report to show what we did and what we achieved.

 BUT some key highlights

  1. A Global Impact report cd was actually given to Michelle Bachelet
    who is the Executive Director of UN Women. On being given it, she said “Oh
    Soroptimists – we need to talk”
  2. Excitement in the delegation when we shared our learning
    experiences as we bumped into each other at workshops, in corridors and en route
    to meetings in the UN building.
  3. Meeting so many women from all around the world and yet
    realising how we face the same challenges from wherever we come and understanding
    that we can, together, make things happen.

But
for me the comment that will forever be in my heart:

During
our workshop on violence against rural women that we filmed, a lady got up and
said “I have come here especially, from my country Rwanda, to say thank you to
the Soroptimists for all that they have done for my country – thank you so much
to you all “.

It
was worth coming all the way to New York for that. The video is on our facebook page – take a look!

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