This post is part of a series on the 54th United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. Click on a link to read further.
A few years back I met the amazing Amanda Reaume in New York City while attending the 52nd UNCSW. During this experience I blogged (via facebook) and the blogs were re-published to Antigone. I’ve been meaning ever since to blog on Antigone about my experiences as a Northern Feminist, but I haven’t been great about the consistency. I just found out today that FAFIA is generously providing me with another opportunity to attend the UNCSW (because they received an unexpected donation) and I am goign to be re-posting my blog over here. so voila, here it is cut and pasted for your enjoyment!
At the opening of the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) training session that happened in Yellowknife a few weeks back, Nancy Baroni of FAFIA (the Feminist Alliance for International Action) presented the following tale:
The Story of the Fox and the Crane
(equal treatment does not mean the same treatment)
The Fox invited the Crane to dinner. He Served the food on a large flat dish. The Crane with her long narrow beak could not eat.
The Crane invited Fox to dinner. She served the food in a deep vase, and so the Fox with his short wide face could not eat.
Both friends had an equal opportunity for nourishment, but each time one of them could not take advantage of this opportunity.
The challenge in every case, beyond establishing equality of opportunity, is to identify barriers to the full enjoyment of opportunities, and custom design the adjusted interventions that will lead to equality of outcome.
The tale is meant to illustrate the fact that just because there are no laws (or at least according to CEDAW there isn’t supposed to be any laws) that discriminate against women and interfere with their human rights or fundamental freedoms doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.
Just because we say that women are allowed to go to University, or have upper management position in companies and government doesn’t mean that we make sure that they actually have the ability to take advantage of those and other opportunities. And just because we design society around male realities and then say that women are free to take part in the social and the political doesn’t mean that we can eat from that large flat plate.
The UNCSW (or the United Nations Convention on the Status of Women) is a yearly gathering that evaluates progress on gender equality. you can learn more about it here:
The United Nations website is sometimes difficult to navigate and is very text heavy, but rather than blunder through a quick description of the Commission on the Status of Women, you can just go read about it from the people who established it! YES!
This will be the second time I have attended the UNCSW, my first experience was during the 52nd on and it was an absolutely mind-blowing. The theme of that year was financing for women’s equality, and I blogged about the experience via facebook, but the blog entries were re-published by Anitgone Magazine, after I met their Executive Director (and Acitviste Extraordinaire) Amanda Reaume who shared my room in New York. (I snore, she sleeps deeply, we were a match made in heaven!)
I honestly felt that after the whirl wind of participating in the UNCSW without any kind of prior expectation of what it would be like, that I left the event with enough understanding to survive another one more easily, and now FAFIA is providing me with that opportunity after receiving a donation. They put out a call for applications (though because it wasn’t government money, the call was very informal,) and then pulled my name out of a hat!
I feel that when I go to this one I will have a better idea of the procedures and lobbying practices. and that my blogs will say more about the subject matter than the sheer experience. I am deeply grateful to FAFIA for providing me with this opportunity. I know that a fellow graduate of the NWT Federation of Labour campaign school; Sheila Sauteur-Chadwick, has also had the opportunity to attend one, and it fills my heart with joy that Northerners are present at the UN!
I’ll write more about this later (and throughout the experience) but now I have to start roasting coffee so that the stores don’t run out when I’m gone. Somehow between now and Saturday I have to find about 20 hours on top of my regular full-time job to make sure the needs of my part-time job are met!
I am so absolutely excited!