Hello, New York.
The view from the back of the United Nations building is spectacular. The UN compound is surprisingly beautiful too, with a garden area, art, and near-flawless architecture. You’d never suspect it to be the grounds of an ideological war.This year, the United Nations in New York is hosting the 58th Council on the Status of Women. “CSW 58” provides a forum for discussion of pertinent challenges facing women worldwide, such as access to education, equal employment opportunity, protection from abuse, FGM (female genital mutilation), and human trafficking, to name a few.
Delegates from each country meet daily to discuss legislation. This year, they are focusing on the passing of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)—a policy document proposed several years ago at a UN conference in Rio outlining ways for the international community to end poverty, provide better access to education, ensure gender equality, empower marginalized women, regulate child and maternal health, protect environmental sustainability, and reduce HIV/AIDS.
The phrasing of the SDGs, however, leaves a lot of room for interpretation.
Statements such as “…creating a future dedicated to protecting the reproductive health of women living in violent areas” could mean dedicating time and resources to reshaping an oppressive culture by teaching the violent communities to be respectful of human life, providing physical and legal protection for suffering women, and by establishing equal education to give women a means to escape. Which would be fantastic.
…or it could mean free and abundant access to abortion for women in violent areas. Which is considered by many to be a reproductive health right that would “protect women” more effectively than those other solutions.
It is a battle of words. Words concealing ideologies about the very nature of humanity.
And with numerous non-governmental organizations and lobbying groups arguing in favor of those kinds of “solutions,” the loose policy language could open the door for the creation of even more problems.Beginning in August, ISHRI (International Solidarity and Human Rights Institute, founded by Franciscan University professors) and a team of Franciscan students led by Dr. Brian Scarnecchia have been researching the SDGs and the issues in preparation to advocate at the UN CSW 58.
And finally, after months of preparation, we’re here.
ISHRI and we 8 students from the research committee have a week at the CSW 58 to plead our case. We will be attending presentations by lobbying groups, other countries, and NGOs (non-governmental organizations) daily to engage the international community in an honest discussion on the best ways to protect women and girls worldwide.
Human dignity is under accidental attack at the CSW 58. We know that everyone here is acting out of concern for suffering women and girls because they genuinely care. But the good news hasn’t been shared, and bad “solutions” are taking the place of loving ones. That’s where we come in. We’re here to spread the truth about how to change the world for the better and make a positive impact on the lives of the women we’re all fighting to protect. We’ve come to be a voice for effective, long-lasting solutions to problems such as violence against women that are also respectful and loving of the women in question.
The CSW 58 will be a learning experience and mission trip for everyone. We will have to discern how best to lead people to the truth on a case-by-case basis, because every person believes what they do for a different reason. We will have to use facts and statistics to argue for philosophical and theological truths, to diplomatically navigate a high-stress political world, and to rely on Christ for guidance at every moment.
We’ll also have to learn “hello” and “goodbye” in as many languages as possible. Breaking out my phrasebook…
We are all here to make a positive difference. We are all here because we love. You can follow our mission here, if you’d like. Pray for us, pray that the delegates make the right decisions, and pray for suffering women and children worldwide.
Pray that the person is remembered when the policy is constructed.
Ciao for now,