Shelley Hannah – UN CSW 57
I have just returned from the 57th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women held in New York City over the past two weeks. I went as one of about a dozen representatives of The Voice of Women for Peace (VOW-Canada) from across our country: Halifax to Nelson, BC. And I was one of upwards of 10 000 women from around the globe who showed up to participate.
I went out of curiosity, and with a professional interest in working with women who are choosing to take a stand for peace in the world. I return home inspired, connected and shocked.
As with every year, there was a theme. This year’s theme was The Elimination and Prevention of All Forms of Violence Against Women and Girls.
It has been inspiring to meet with so many passionate women, with such a commitment both to women’s security and to our desired collective contribution to society on social & political fronts.
And it has also been disheartening to learn about so many harsh realities. Besides the seemingly endless stories of seemingly endless ways that women experience violence around the world, both within & outside of our homes, there were also some big picture realities that have stunned, saddened and angered me. Of the many, here are a few:
- UN Security Council Resolution 1325, passed unanimously in 2000 that commits to, among other things, having women be present at the tables where decisions about war & peace are discussed and decided, nationally & internationally, has, for all intents and purposes, not hardly been implemented at all in the 13 years since it was agreed to. Canada’s progress on this being no exception.
- There is fierce debate among women about whether to hold a 5th UN World Conference for Women. The 4th, & last, was held in 1995, in Beijing. Many recommendations made then still have not been implemented, 18 years later! A central part of the debate has been fear that a 5th World Conference could see those recommendations revisited and put any progress that was made then at risk being lost because of the prevailing conservatism that currently exists in so many parts of the world.
- International Peace-keeping Troops have been and undoubtedly still are at the centre of the trafficking and use of sex slaves that are young girls aged 11 & up in countries in which they have been hired to maintain peace & protect the safety of those in the area. The shocking documentary ‘Whistleblower’ (which I will look to access and show locally) exposes the depth and breadth of the involvement of UN players in this violence-infused underbelly economy. It also informs us that UN employees (including those ‘hired hands’ from 3rd party ‘private security companies’ to act as International Peace-keeping troops) have immunity from any legal recourse!!
I have not yet decided just how all of this information will influence decisions and choices I will make. What is for certain is that my world-view has been altered.
At the very least, some of what I now know I need to share widely. It needs exposure. Because what I also know is that when more people know about such transgressions of human dignity, the more likely we are to correct things & hold individuals accountable.
And what I know is that this information is not separate from the news that I heard on the radio recently that every year My Friend’s House, a shelter for survivors of domestic abuse here in our own local neighbourhood, serves 600 women and children annually. They also respond to over 1500 crisis calls in the same period.
What I hold out for is that, individually and collectively, we will choose to take a stand for respectful relations that uphold the dignity and security of all. What I hold out for is that we will choose to step in and interrupt, rather than turn a blind eye to beliefs and behaviours that violate these basic human rights.
I welcome further dialogue – and action with others – men, women, boys and girls. We truly are in this boat together.
Wasaga Beach, ON