As part of our delegation to UNCSW, All Ireland member June Butler writes about her first full day.
March 13th 2017, New York
Monday marked the first full day of events for the commission. I attended three valuable events throughout the day as follows:
"Step it up together with rural women to end hunger and poverty".
This event was organised by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN with the EU and Slovak Republic, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the World Food Programme and UN Women. Particular topics of interest to MU included:
- The empowerment of rural women to take forward the Development goals
- Women as primary agents for change with regard to poverty
- The gender gap and discrimination against women in farming communities,
- How to empower women in rural communities with women as the drivers for change.
Emphasis was given on changing the existing culture - very much in line with how MU approach our programmes such as CCM . I was especially impressed with a great keynote speech by the First Lady of the Republic of Zambia who spoke about the difficult issues facing women in rural areas of her country including the fact that women were just 43% of rural population but provided 70% of the labour – most carrying their small children as they work! It was great to talk afterwards with Joanne Adamson, EU Deputy Head of Delegation - great that she had heard of Mothers’ Union!
“Addressing Gender Dimensions of Modern Day Slavery”
This event was hosted by the UK, Lichtenstein and Nigeria. There was a lot of input from the platform about this problem being hidden on the margins of society and that modern slavery is a humanitarian crisis. To me the debate was quite pedestrian until Aidan McQuade of Anti-Slavery International spoke focusing on slavery being about power, the exclusion of groups so that they become enslaved, systems of inequality, forced child labour being sanctioned in many countries, misogynistic abuse AND the need for change, the need for more schools in the developing world, education to protect the rights of young women and the need for better legislation and public prosecutions of the perpetrators of trafficking and enslavement. I thought that there was lots of food for thought here for MU!
Launch of the Global Equal Pay Platform of Champions
This was in the main Assembly Hall - was good to sit in the seats where the main UN debates are held! This was a very stimulating event and it very much proved that women from across the world are all working to the same goals. A number of "champions" were introduced, including actress Patricia Arquette; she said “women were often invisible as they were seen by others through the men they were with. It is intolerable that in an age where we are about to have cars that drive themselves and where 50% of the women in the USA are the primary breadwinners in their homes, there is inequality of pay and so many elderly women live In poverty”
Other "champions" spoke about their reasons for joining the campaign including;
- Desire for a living age for all throughout the world
- The fact that women had to work harder to achieve success (as well as often working while managing the home and family)
- Current gender pay gaps
- Examples of poor cultural norms, occupational segregation, discrimination
There were also reports from countries where progress has been achieved or is in the planning - Iceland, Switzerland, South Africa, Australia and Panama. Many of the contributors to the debate touched on the importance of redressing inequality not only for the women concerned but because of the economic importance to normal, good quality, family life.
- Please pray for all the Champions as they work towards equal pay
- Please also pray for the passing of the snow storms here in New York, the second day of UNCSW has now been cancelled so we pray that the bad weather passes quickly
- With long days please pray for the MU delegation as we promote the aims and objectives of MU at this important platform - pray that we are energised throughout the day and rest well at night
Read June's thoughts from Day Two and Day Three