On behalf of the DSI participants of CSW62, greetings! Although we have officially concluded our time at the UN, it will take us quite some time to process all that we experienced and we wanted to continue sharing the journey with you. This article includes more photos and reflections from participants. In between all our sessions we also managed to explore the sights, sounds, and tastes of New York City. Some members of our group experienced snow for the first time. These weeks were memorable in many ways; we certainly made the most of our time together! Enjoy reading.

Peace, Christin Tomy, OP (US, Sinsinawa)

General reflections: Week Two

Sister Tabira Tabeaua, OP – Solomon Islands

On attending the program of the Commission on the Status of Women in New York, when I took time to listen and

hear what was done in different organizations and groups for gender equality for rural women and girls, I was overwhelmed to see, hear, and experience what the groups or organization or NGOs were doing. They really tried to bring out the truth as they tried to challenge and give witness to a better way of living, and also to discover the best ways of helping rural women and girls to achieve what they needed in life.

I saw that the women who were involved in the organization were educated, and already had the support of the government or the NGOs, and the funding to run these programs. Without support or funding of some kind, how would these developments reach the women or girls who actually live in villages or places where there is no development?  I imagine that it is only in the places or villages where there are women who are educated or belong to such organizations or NGOs, that villages and communities are really able to help women and girls if they have the desire.

I recognize that our rural women and girls are more dependent on their families for security, for food and for

their happiness, than women and girls of the cities and towns. We all know that each culture has different ways of respecting each member. For example, the heart of any Kiribati community is its traditional maneaba or meeting house which is the centre of village life and the basis of island and national governance. The whole community is involved in its construction, and every aspect of the maneaba has a symbolic as well as a practical function, e.g. the practice of sitting in a circle, speaking and decision-making.

It is a great challenge for us women who belong to religious life, to the congregation and to other organizations. What can I or we do to help these women or girls to develop spiritually, physically, and even materially – to give them confidence, to challenge them to be able to stand up for themselves or to understand themselves. Also, to speak up for themselves.

As a group, or as a congregation, or as NGOs, what can we do to improve or help the situation of these rural women?

Sister Roberta Miller, OP – US (Peace)

To me this conference revolves around women seeking to participate in this multifaceted world issue of how to move ahead in recovering and sustaining Earth. This is a time of climate change and technological creativity benefiting only a few. As land and water through deforestation, mining extraction, and corporate ownership becomes inhospitable for human habitation, women and children in rural areas experience the first tragic results of droughts, floods, deforestation, homelessness, and cultural loss. Women, especially those born in rural communities, call for equal participation in policy planning, justice, respect, recognition and opportunities to develop their God-given natural abilities and gifts.

Conferences such as this UN NGO one enable the establishment of new and/or renewed relationships among the rural, urban, and indigenous. Youth and all ages come together with hope and energy to recreate a new world. As a Dominican woman religious joining with others from around the world, I am filled with renewed hope and energy.

Sister Jareen Aquino, OP – Tanzania

The experience in CSW 62 and the different conversations with the sisters invited me to see my ministry from a broader perspective. I have to admit that I get caught up with the day-to-day things of my ministry that I do not bother or even ask about the external factors that affect it. CSW62 made me ask the following questions:

  • Can I do more in addressing the issues that affect women and girls within a larger context?
  • Am I doing enough in my ministry to address the issue in Tanzania?
  • Who can I work with (beyond the center) to really advocate the issues that the Tanzanian women and girls face?
  • How can I push the issues that affect women and girls beyond the grass root level?
  • How can I let the government be more aware of the situation and address the issue?
  • How can I make people (including the government) accountable for the struggles that women and girls are experiencing?

When the aforementioned questions were surfaced, they were answered when I had an early morning talk with Margaret.

Her answer was Advocacy and Networking. If we collaborate and combine resources, knowledge and experiences, it would create a bigger impact to really address the struggles of women and girls.  Working from the grass root level, I can substantiate the findings/data provided by the DLC to the United Nation in relation to what is happening in Tanzania. I do hope that in pursuing this new invitation to do advocacy and networking, I will do justice in sharing the stories of the young women whom I accompany.

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