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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.

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 8 , Part 9 , Part 10

March 3rd was the day that the United Nations Celebrated International Women’s Day. The occasion is celebrated a few days before the actual event to allow Delegates to the UN the chance to get home in time to celebrate with their communities.

I started the Day at the NGO general briefing at the Salvation Army. A South East Asian delegate asked if we could lobby for a resolution specific to women in extreme poverty and women with disability with our respective government meetings and regional caucuses. The Women’s Labour Congress also asked us to join them in their lobby for a resolution on women’s economic empowerment, and women from Arabic women’s caucus would like to see a resolution on women in occupied territories, and the general women’s labour group finished and released a draft of their open letter to the Secretary General about the long lines and poor state of the UNCSW.

After the NGO debrief I moved back to the main building and made my way to the overflow room (Conference Room 2) to watch the UN celebration of International Womens Day.

It was very nice, the Secretary General made a wonderful and engaging address. He spoke about the way that he honors women because he is a husband and a father and a grandfather. He talked about how important he felt it was for men throughout the world to recognize that violence against women is a direct violation of their inalienable human rights.

During the Secretary’s address a group called “GEAR UP” stood holding letters spelling out “GEAR UP NOW!” which earned a smiled and a wave from him.

Following his address a number of speakers also addressed the crowd with their own thoughts on the importance of women, and their dreams for women in the future. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to catch all of it, especially given that in the middle of Audin Ysbakken (who is about as blue eyed and blonde as they come) suddenly was being translated into mandarin. A lot of us got a laugh out of that, but some people were pissed as it was another example of ongoing flubs that seem to be plaguing this event.

After the International Women’s Day UN celebration I left the building and headed back to the Salvation Army to attend the Session “Because I am a Girl.”Because I am a Girl is the name of a 304 page report on the state of girls throughout the world. Now, during the session the presenters mentioned that there will be 9 reports and that they will follow girls around the world from birth to early adulthood (presumably early working age.)

The full name on the giant book I received (which also came with a CD, a booklet summary, and an information package) is:

Because I am a Girl- The State of the World’s Girls 2009- Girls in the Global Economy: Adding it All Up

The session that I attended featured presenters

Sarah Hendriks, Global Gender Advisor for Plan International.

Stefan Wallin, the Minister of Gender Equality Affairs at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health for the Finnish Government (that dude’s job title is longer than the report name!  I wonder if in Finnish it’s like two words… hmmm)

Diana Rivington the Director of the Human Development and Gender Equality Division within Strategic Policy and Performance Branch of the Canadian International Development Agency. <-I think she has Stefan’s job title length beat.

Trine Lunde, Economist at the World Bank and coordinator of the Bank’s Gender Action Plan: Gender as Smart Economics.

Beth Katz, Associate Professor of Economics and Co-Director of the Masters Program in International and Development Economics at the University of San Francisco.

Donnady Coquila Lao, 16 year old student and aspiring nurse.

Rocio Garcia Gaytan, President of the Mexican National Institute for Women (and former Congresswoman)

Francisco Cos Montiel, Senior Program Specialist at the International Development Research Centre and overseer of the Women’s Rights and Citizenship Portfolio in Latin America.

*Side Note: if you were wondering why I’m lagging behind in the blogging, surely now you can see that even making sure that I get everyone’s name right is quite a task! AND imagine with all those long titles the sheer amount of complicated and intricate information that each one of them carries!

I fully recommend that people check out the website. Highlights from our presentation included that Brazil saw that when child benefit money was given to mothers instead of fathers that the survival rate of the children was 20% higher. Also delaying motherhood is a major factor in whether girls fall into persistent poverty. On a related note, the upside of sweat shop labour is apparently delaying motherhood (sometimes reducing village teen pregnancy rates by up to 67%…. of course the downside to sweatshops is inhumane working conditions, long hours, and no labour laws to protect them or benefits and all the other horrors we’ve heard of. Lunde of the World bank confirmed that in spite of higher education levels, women are still paid lower wages than their male counterparts, and she also reported that micro loans given to women  in developing countries ended up generating significantly more returns than micro loans given to men.

Donnady gave a great speech about her dreams of becoming a nurse and the challenges that she faces in her home country; the Philippines. She illustrated some of the realities that she faces as well as some examples of the challenges her peers deal with.

Kind of related to the barriers facing Donnady in getting herself to nursing school, Katz’s presentation on youth and labour market participation said that youth who enter the labour market are more likely to get higher levels of education. This kind of implied to me that more youth are having to fund their own post secondary years without much help. Mexico has raised the number of scholarships available to women in hopes of helping them become more educated.

I have been live tweeting through the sessions, which is much easier to keep up with because I don’t have to be coherent, I can just blurt the tidbits as the come. I’m tweeting as Tundrabunny, so if you’d like to follow me just search me out at Twitter.com Also if you are interested in seeing the live tweets of other participants search #CSW or #CSW54 or #UNCSW54 to catch other coverage.

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