By Phyllis Boozer
On Friday, March 13 I had the opportunity, thanks to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and Baptist World Alliance, to attend a United Nations Women’s Conference in New York. This was part of a two-week series of meetings, sponsored by the Committee on the Status of Women (CSW), which takes place each March at the UN in New York City. UN Women sponsored parallel events during these two weeks also.
The session I chose was an all day event titled, An Intergenerational Dialog, a conversation among various gender equality advocates and stakeholders across generations. There were panels from various countries and of various ages who talked about experiences from their lives around a particular topic of gender equality. The afternoon session was audience participation with questions being posed to the panelists.
I was impressed by the young people on each panel who spoke so passionately and eloquently of their desire to be involved in promoting gender equality. As one young woman from Tunisia said, “we are not the leaders of tomorrow; we are the leaders of today.” She believed so strongly in the cause that she had saved her own money to attend this conference. Another young woman from Pakistan spoke of the freedom she felt when she walked from 14th St. to the UN that morning. Back in her home country she is not even allowed to ride a bike in public, even though her brother can go freely wherever he wants.
An audience member asked that we think about how we could support and protect female activitists who are sacrificing their lives for the cause of gender equality.
Many other issues such as childhood marriage, sexual violence against women, access to technology for women, more leadership given to women in business and educational institutions in all parts of the world.
My role at this meeting was to listen.
I have found that the more you listen the better able you are to speak when the time comes to do so. As I sat elbow to elbow with women from Libya, Greece, Egypt, Australia, Tunisia, Afghanistan, Solomon Islands and so many other places, I realized that though we may differ in language and faith backgrounds, we were there for a common purpose—to focus on our part in making our world a better place for all.
Phyllis Boozer is the Coordinator for the Baptist Fellowship of the Northeast, one of the 18 state/regional organizations of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.