The NGO CSW Forum Consultation Day was held on 11 March 2018.
A blog by Christine Johnstone
“What a buzz as we walked with women from other nations into the forecourt of the Tribeca Theatre, and into the Auditorium for the Consultation Day Programme.
This day was to be the beginning of a feast of over 450 events to appease the appetites of diverse women, to inform and inspire us in our ongoing goal to lift women and girls out of poverty.
It was wonderful to be in the presence of many women who have walked the talk and to hear them tell us powerful stories of women. Emcees were Rosalee Keech, the League of Women Voters of the United States, and Jackie Weatherspoon, US Women Connect. To add to the vibe in the auditorium, entertainment was provided by the Cultural Melodies from the Himalayas: Mager Indigenous Youth Dancers from Nepal.
Jackie Weatherspoon reminded us of a Hilary Clinton quote, ”Women’s Rights are Human Rights and Human Rights are Women’s Rights”
Welcome speeches were conducted by:
Susan O’Malley, Chair NGO Committee on the Status Of Women/NY, International Federation of Business and Professional Women.
Phumzile Miambo-Ngcuka – Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director, UN Woman
H.E. Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason, Permanent Representative Mission of Ireland, Bureau Chair, Commission on the Status of Women.
Welcome speeches gave newbies such as myself, an explanation on how the Zero Draft Documents were formulated, along with the process of the consultation of women. There were many catch phrases from each of the speakers, such as: “The Inclusiveness of rural women’s decisions must be made by rural women, not for them”. “Diversity is Devine”, and this one which resonated with me; “There are not poor women, it is the issues that make them poor”.
Over the day we were going to hear stories from moderators, speakers and rural women, these stories would set the scene for the next two weeks. Stories about the conditions of women as rural providers of the food chain. Rural women living in conditions without water, sanitation and or energy. In rural areas without this infrastructure the provision falls to rural women. Phumzile set the picture when she said “Little girls with short legs carrying a heavy bucket, cannot run away, and rape becomes an issue” Geraldine remined us that the rural women have an invaluable source of local knowledge, this knowledge is so valuable when rural woman are brought to the peace table.
Every year NGO CSW/NY presents the Women of Distinction Award to a woman in recognition of her leadership in the struggle for gender equality, human rights and women’s empowerment. The awardee gives the Keynote Address at the Consultation Day, the launch of the CSW62 Forum. The award is presented at the NGO CSW/NY Reception.
Consultation Day Keynote speaker was Sizani Ngubane, awardee of the Women of Distinction Award, Sizani is the Founder of Rural Women’s Movement, South Africa. Sizani did not receive a formal education, but took it upon herself to become educated. Sizani is small in statue but her voice and passion raised her to great heights. She told us her story, that as a very young girl she listened to the radio and because enraged about issues, and told her mother that she must travel to ALL of Africa to teach women to have a voice and speak out. Sizani founded the Rural Women’s Movement (RWM) in 1990 which later became the National Movement of Rural Women (NMRW). Sizani encouraged women to be elected to land councils, and to speak out. Sizani words inspired the audience.
The panel session covered the Concerns of Rural Women
Panelists consisted of:
Gia Gaspard Taylor – Network of Rural Women Producers, Trindad and Tobago – Climate
Maria Luisa Mendonca – Network for Social Justice and Human Rights, Brazil – land and property rights
Lilly Be’Soer – Voice for Change, Jiwaka Province, New Guinea – combating violence against rural and indigenous women and girls.
Ruth Faircloth – Rural Migrant Ministry, New York State, Migrant farmworkers
Moderator: Esther Mwaura, GROOTS Kenya
Respondent: Hon Marilou McPhedran, Senator (Canada); Committees: Human Rights, Aboriginal Peoples, Security and Defense
Each panellist raised issues such as: Water and sanitation, Climate Change, Land rights and entitlement, Gender equality.
In conclusion, it was agreed that rural women need to stand up and say – we are somebody! That rural and indigenous women rights can be lived by following the International framework and implementing this at the local level. That there is an accountability of civil society to see that this occurs.
Rural women said they are not rural women but are “Women living in a rural area”
In summing up we were told “CSW55, 2012 failed to meet a conclusion, CSW62 delegates, should gently pierce the diplomatic bubble and produce the strongest possible outcome document possible”.”