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Posted by on Apr 12, 2013 in Blogs

Cheryl Grant’s reflections on the 2013 NGO CSW forum in New York

Cheryl Grant’s reflections on the 2013 NGO CSW forum in New York


As a “newby” at the conference, I left with my head spinning and feeling full from one ear to the other.  Over the last few weeks, I find myself pondering on all the passionate people that I met and all the courageous stories that they had to share.  I feel dismayed and hopeful in the same breath of air.

I am an educator of young children and I am just finishing my post graduate transformative justice diploma and I notice that this is the lens that I reflect on my experiences.  Firstly, I see the large role that cultural and spiritual expectations have in promoting the continuation of violence against women and girls.  For example, I watched a funny and very saddening roleplaying skit of a young girl in Chechnya trying to convince her mother that she should not be married at the age of 14 because she wanted to go to school.  Maybe because it was so visual, the message really hit home with me.  Our own Canadian presentation on violence in the military is also a reflection, in part, of a small microcosm of our society and the values and cultural expectations within it.  In order to eradicate violence against women, we need to have society really look at values that are not healthy practise.  We need to stop just excepting common practise and decide what is right.  I think that this is easy to say and hard to do.  Memory that is hundreds of years old will be hard to change.

Empathy seems to be the missing ingredient to me and we have the power to change that. If each person in the world was able to truly understand what the others around them are experiencing, and feeling, I think few would be able to continue with their acts of violation.  It is when we desensitise ourselves from our feelings, that humans can hurt each other.  As an educator, parent and member of society this is the piece that I take home.  How are we becoming disengaged with our empathic self and how do we reconnect?   It is empathy that leads us to rethink our assumptions and judgements.  I believe that it should hold a special and essential place in our education system.

………..Just a few of my thoughts and “take aways.”  I am endlessly grateful to Janis and all the VOW members for their wise company and warm friendship.  I hope to see you all again someday, Cheryl