World Pulse

CSW 59/Beijing+20: Grassroots Voices Should Be the Main Event

Leina
Posted March 9, 2015

“Our hearts are hurting for the pain we’ve gone through, are going through, and might still go through if we keep gathering and talking with no results to show for.

Mary Osei, Ghana

Leina | Cameroon

It’s been 20 years since thousands of activists worldwide gathered in Beijing to brainstorm solutions to gender equality and the empowerment of women in all parts of the world. This week kicks off CSW 59/Beijing+20, when representatives of member states, UN entities, and ECOSOC-accredited NGOs will stream into New York City to track the progress and limitations of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. This landmark event hasprovokedgreat strides in the advancement of women's rights, but a lot remains to be realized.

We can hardly talk of gender equality without thinking of women in the most remote parts of the world who are often marginalized from both local and global dialogues on issues that pertain to their wellbeing. These womenare still under the yoke of obnoxious traditional beliefs that permit them to be treated as sub-humans. If the UN is to achieve their goal of gender equality, there must be a platform for the voices of these women to be highlighted.

I have attended CSW forthe last 2 years, and my experience has permitted me to come to the conclusion that grassroots women strongly need a platform to make their voices heard.

Every year, I listen to women speak during various sessions expressing an outpouring of sorrow, anger, pain, and frustration. They recount stories of rape, genital mutilation, property grabbing, battering, menstrual seclusion, sex slavery, ritual rape of virgin brides, bride price, honor killing, violence in pregnancy, early and forced marriages… the list goes on. These are the stories that make me cry. Still, many women keep hopes high for a bettertomorrow.

From my observations, there are a lot more women participating in the side events that circle CSW than in the event itself. The side events are activities organized outside the formal program, and are largely run by NGOs.It would be beneficial if part of the evaluation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action included giving grassroots women the chance to share their ordeals—and solutions—with government officials.

As it stands now, women are discouraged.

''We are wasting our time here," says 2013 CSW-participant V Adebayo from Nigeria. “I am telling you, this thing has become a form of entertainment where we come year in year out and pour out our stories, solutions, and tears then go back home to our same old struggles.”

If we are to gather, we are to gather for a purpose.This year, as I prepare to speak on panels at CSW, I hope to see more support and follow up on the part of the UN with regards to the issues women leaders will be raising. Women know what to do. We just lack the necessary exposure and support to keep our engines rolling.

I think of World Pulse and the thunderous effects of grassroots women’s voices echoing from all parts of the globe. I tell those at CSW that on World Pulse, we discuss solutions. We, as grassroots women, are natural leaders. The tides might get higher and our scourges more intense, but we are too aware of the physical and spiritual energy that abounds when women gather.

I humbly suggest that the UN opens its doors more and more for grassroots women to speak to government delegates and international representatives so that our solutions can be put into practice.

Comments 13

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Olanike
Mar 09, 2015
Mar 09, 2015

Go Leina! I join in echoing your call, which I am sure you will sound loudly when you speak.

Please do let them know at the CSW 59/Beijing+20 that grassroots women remain the worst affected by the issue of gender inequality and are the ones who can find answers/solutions to a long entrenched prejudice that must come to an end. It's about time that the real victims and victors are brought to the table to decide the way forward.

It's time to go back to the drawing board to evaluate what has worked and what is not working. It is time to also answer the questions of why and how things worked or didn't work.

I believe it is time to build on what worked, while also exploring new possibilities of making change happen at an accelerated pace.

You represent the ivocies of victims and victors, and I am glad that you will truly represent and the present the heart cries, hopes and aspirations of women at the grassroots.

All the best!

Olanike
Mar 09, 2015
Mar 09, 2015

Cheering you on my sister and friend!

Leina
Mar 09, 2015
Mar 09, 2015

Thank you my sister Green Girl!

Melissa Banigan
Mar 10, 2015
Mar 10, 2015

YES! I'm so glad to see this article, and fully stand behind you!! Sending love, strength, and yes, even more hope that grassroots voices can be better heard!

Fualefeh
Mar 10, 2015
Mar 10, 2015

You are one woman to beckon with. I remember my very short stay with you at Equinox Television. I had it rough at the start but I remember you coached me in your own little way and I am ripping from that now. I am not into gender issues but you are an inspiration to women of all ages. When I see you, I think of Cameroon's finest Lady in this who passed on some months back Anne Nsang (Rest her Soul). Keep up the fight, grassroot women will get their breakthrough.

Go on!

Leina
Mar 10, 2015
Mar 10, 2015

Thank you dear Melissa!

Leina
Mar 10, 2015
Mar 10, 2015

Dear Fualefeh,I am so thrilled to see you here on World Pulse.I am waiting to read about the things u love writing about dear.Thank you so much for reminding me about our good old days.I miss you!!!!!!

Yvette Warren
Mar 11, 2015
Mar 11, 2015

You are so right, Leina. I, too, have been frustrated with the many women's movements from which we walk without stategic plans and timetables. A vision without a strategic plan in place is simply a pipe dream. Thank you for saying what the world needs to hear.

Leina
Mar 12, 2015
Mar 12, 2015

Thank you dear Yvette!We need urgent and genuine action!

Yvette Warren
Mar 13, 2015
Mar 13, 2015

Will you be joining me at The Parliament of the World's Religions in Salt Lake City in October?

Odion Anavhe
Mar 16, 2015
Mar 16, 2015

Leina,

Thanks for this great observation. Human rights isn't human rights if the rural woman and the poor do not have their voices heard because actually, if is for such as these that human rights even exists... I commend yours efforts. Keep speaking for rural women.

Regards,

Odion 

Tamarack Verrall
Mar 16, 2015
Mar 16, 2015

Dear Leina,

This is such an important message. We cannot allow the UN to evaluate the Beijing Platform without the voices of grassroots women being listened to and finally being taken extremely seriously. We cannot afford another 20 years of empty promises. It is through the strong, eloquent voices of grassroots women, such as yours, that the real work of what needs to be done will be recognised. It is so heartening to know that you are there, carrying all of the knowledge that you know so well, speaking out so courageously, so wisely, so powerfully.

May you get all the mic time you need!

Tam

Erna Surjadi
Apr 19, 2015
Apr 19, 2015

Dear Leina and All,

I'm glad reading this news; though a bit late..

There was about the same messages reported by several women that I heard during the Gender Harmony (GH) and the Gender Empowerment (GE) event at CCUN, 12 March 2015 during CSW59. However, most of participants were enthusiastic to GH and GE due to it can be implemented to reduce violence against women; more over it invites men to get involved for creating harmonious living.

I had attended also theCSW 57 for the first time; at that moment I realized how UN treated Country Delegates more valuable than NGOs; where most of decision made by the group and the treatment was also 'more respected' than us. They never knows that most of governments are working with NGOs, due to they are not allowed to perform any programme directly as the Executives without third parties, which are NGOs. Many officials are holding positions for certain authority; however less of them truly expert in the fields which mostly coming from grassroots and academia. The condition even lead to sadness; while in the country the government may be nice to work hand in hand with NGOs, that didn't make automatically the voices are delivered to the global world. Most of Minister's speech are made by "the powerful person and their friends"; (with all political and related considerations); and unfortunately, inevitably those are taken for granted by the UN as the only legal and formal decisions. I am government retiree; I knew well how they work; and it is also confirmed while I was holding as the Regional Adviser on Gender for 11 countries within South East Asia Region for more than four years. It is understood to know the reality, go to the grassroots; while to get money - go to the government! The UN grant money were mostly even delivered through the government only; although it was targeted to NGOs.

I came again to CSW 59 due to encouragement of my friend at UN; due to we had many testimonies on the useful of GH from other UN global event (UNHRC), international conference and local seminars. Last March 2015 we brought the Gender Empowerment book, about 700 pages in English, written by 12 persons of 8 countries, which telling the GH journey, some research and knowledge on gender issues and how to prevent violence against women which was proved being reduced by 56%.  I left some books to the Chief of NGO CSW, Ms. Soon. The presentation was welcome with full acceptance; where most of participants saying they now are having more hopes and would like to implement GH in their countries. I feel so happy by the responses; due to there was much money spent for making GH and GE grow, including for the global travel and expenses. In addition, by March 2015; there were about 50 countries heard about GH and GE; which hopefully by 'snowball' actions could be more and more..

The good news is by implementing GH and GE; the condition won't be back to 'square zero', due to the coping mechanism of the spouses created through GH becomes knowledge and customs learned by human to re-orienting the biased patriarchy culture. The early education to young people is highly suggested through schools and extracurriculer programmes.

It is hoped this is heard by the UN and in the future they would give considerations on 'listening' also to the voices from grassroots to create their decision support system; while also give affirmative actions and support needed to implement GH for changes, promote GE for better family social life and harmonious living.

Let's change the world better for women and men in harmonious living! We can do it it work together with men in the proper method and approach within gender partnership; as God created them to be...

May God help us..

Regards,

ES

www.genderharmony.info ; www.genderempowerment.com