Kanda Vajrabhaya, chair of the CSW, opened the proceedings in the General Assembly of the UN. No balloons. No fireworks. No confetti. Of course, I didn’t expect music and dancing at an official session of the UN. I knew that there would be formalities, speeches, and matters of business. Watching a UN proceeding live whether in the gallery, on UN monitors, or streamed onto your computer or device is not necessarily prime time television.
But as I think about it, the real work of 50-50 by 2030 (gender equality and justice as outlined in the Beijing declaration’s 12 areas), as called for by the commission, will take more than my sitting and watching while others do the grunt work.
This week, I have begun to sit, watch, listen, and learn about the devastating effects of climate change for poor farmers in the world, many of whom are women. I have heard the cries for justice from women working on behalf of the “comfort women” who were systematically enslaved to provide sex to Japanese soldiers during World War II. And of girls from poor rural areas, sold to pimps — some as young as 9. And then there are these realities: according to the executive director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, moving at the present rate, if a girl was born today, she would be 81 before women and men have equality in pay for work. A girl born today would be 50 years old before there is equity in representation in governmental structures such as parliaments and congresses. So there is much to do. The new mantra as the UN moves forward is “50-50 by 2030.”
I get overwhelmed as I learn more about the realities of women and girls in the world. And then Jesus puts it in perspective: “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”(Matthew 22:37-39)
— Fern Lee Hagedorn, Beach Lake, PA
(For what happened at the opening of CSW, see: