The Words of the Walsh Family
New York, USA -- In parallel and side events during the 56th Session of the UN's Commission on the Status of Women, UPF representatives spoke about strengthening the family and combating trafficking of women. Thousands of women traveled to the United Nations Headquarters in New York to attend governmental, intergovernmental, and NGO meetings from February 27 to March 6 regarding the concerns of women around the globe. The theme this year was "The empowerment of rural women and their role in poverty and hunger eradication, development, and current challenges."
UPF was represented at a number of events:
Mrs. Lynn Walsh, Director of the Office of Marriage and Family, and Ms. Genie Kagawa, Deputy Director of the Office of UN Relations, attended the Opening Reception and Women of Distinction Awards Ceremony at the Turkish Mission to the UN.
Mrs. Walsh led a "Conversation Circle" on the topic of the family on February 27.
Mrs. Kagawa spoke on the dangers of trafficking of women at the March 9 Women's Day Observance sponsored by several NGOs addressing the problems of trafficking, enslavement, and HIV/AIDS.
Mrs. Tomiko Duggan, Director of the Office of Embassy Relations in Washington, DC, and Ms. Kagawa attended a March 14 Women's Foreign Policy Group luncheon in Washington in honor of Ms. Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, and Ms. Lakshimi Puri, UN Women Assistant-Secretary-General.
Several parallel events related to UPF's focus on the importance of stable families and marriages as one key for preventing discrimination, alleviating poverty and combating social exclusion of women:
"The Family: Eradicating Poverty and Hunger," sponsored by the Kenya Orphan's and Vulnerable Children Network, featured several successful programs that promote hygiene, health, family agriculture, small businesses, and community cooperation. Each of these programs focused on the importance of family cohesion as key for sustainability of progress made in these areas.
"Mothers Empowering Daughters: Sexuality, Education and Poverty" featured psychiatrist and author Dr. Miriam Grossman, who gave detailed accounts of the grave emotional and medical risks to young women with increased sexual activity. Dr. Grossman showed how the "Comprehensive Sex Education" that is promoted by International Planned Parenthood and SIECUS is far from comprehensive as it minimizes the high rates of depression and STDs that accompany uncommitted sexual activity. By the very nature of their biology, girls and young women are more vulnerable to STDs that can lead to infertility, cancer, and death. Several young women gave their stories of how their mothers were able to influence them to make healthier choices about sexual relationships; they are now STD-free and confident about being able to establish stable and loving marriages.
"The Family Rights Caucus," sponsored by Obiteljski Center and Family Watch International, facilitated discussion about the role of the family in creating stable societies, protecting children from sexualization, defending the sovereign rights of countries' family values.' Building on these concerns, Sharon Slater of Family Watch International introduced the petition to "Stop Sexualizing Our Children" as an effective step for forming a worldwide "Coalition for Protecting the Health and Innocence of Children." More information about this petition is available at www.StopSexualizingChildren.org.
Sessions organized by UN Women highlighted best practices in countries such as Timor-Leste, Egypt, Morocco, Libya, Guatemala, and El Salvador. UN Women was established by a UN General Assembly resolution in 2010, and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed Ms. Michelle Bachelet, former President of Chile, as Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women. UN Women is working to have women be the agents as well as subjects of change; it pursues integrated, sustained approaches to uplifting rural and disadvantaged women.
Why the focus on rural women at these events? Out of the 7 billion people in the world, 1 billion live below the poverty line of $1.25 per day. Women are the majority of the poor, and the majority of the poor live in rural areas; thus, rural women are doubly disadvantaged by being women and by being rural. Traditional practices often limit women's ownership of property and land inheritance, and they may have little access to health care and education. While women produce 60 to 80 percent of the food consumed, but own only a fraction of the land and receive less than 10 percent of all loans and 5 percent of technical assistance resources.
"The creation of UN Women has coincided with deep changes in our world -- from rising protests against inequality to uprisings for freedom and democracy in the Arab world," Ms. Bachelet said in her message on International Women's Day, March 8. "These events have strengthened my conviction that a sustainable future can only be reached by women, men and young people enjoying equality together." She added that during the coming year, UN Women will focus on advancing women's economic empowerment, political participation, and leadership.