Inspirational Women

A blog by Pat Black

“One of the most amazing experiences in returning to CSW is that of meeting inspirational women. Some of them are those whom we meet every year.  Long-term campaigners and activists who never give up on the cause they are fighting for.  One of those women is 86 year old Margaret Owen, a human rights barrister based in the UK but fighting for the rights of widows globally. She founded the first international organisations to address human rights issues in the context of widowhood, and is now the director of  Widows for Peace through Democracy, which is the umbrella for many partner organisations across the world.

Over the years she has raised awareness of the plight of widows in many countries, banging on the doors of the United Nations, often literally, to ensure their stories are told and to require their inclusion and recognition by the United Nations and its member states.  It has taken many years of persistence but at CSW62 there are events raising the issue of widows in rural areas, and the draft text of the Agreed Conclusions even includes the word ‘widows’.

Soroptimists in several countries are fighting for the rights of widows; in Nigeria they have even had some success and we will continue to raise our voices and knock on doors so that no one is left behind. 

There are other inspirational women who we listen to at one of the hundreds of events telling their personal stories.  I heard such a story today from a young woman, the survivor of rape. 

I never thought that I’d be made to suffer a greater injustice than what I went through on the day that I was raped. Growing up, I’d believed in those familiar American promises: that our rights were sacred, that everyone was equal in the eyes of the law, and that the legal system existed to right wrongs and restore justice. It was only after my ordeal that I discovered first hand the ways in which rape survivors are continually re-victimized and betrayed by our country’s failure to make good on these promises. 

Amanda Wynn (Amanda Nguyen) went on to fight successfully for changes to the law in the US Congress and to found ‘Rise’ an organisation which works for justice for rape survivors. Read a letter from the founder HERE

This young lady today moved many to tears with her personal story, but stressed that there were many others like her. 

CSW events are scattered with such inspirational women and I for one feel privileged to hear and share their stories”. 

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