Former mayor and UCSC student recap their experiences at the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women
While traveling to New York for the 57th United Nations (UN) Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), seasoned local activist Jane Weed-Pomerantz had a notion of what to expect. But, with the vast scope of worldwide women’s rights violations presented at the commission, she knew she would still be taken aback at times.
“I was worried because I had a feeling I would be finding out what I did find out about women and girls in the world,” says Weed-Pomerantz. “I was trying to brace myself for the knowledge of the reality, because we are really very protected in this country.”
Weed-Pomerantz, a former Santa Cruz mayor and longtime member of the Community Action Board and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), will share her experiences from the UN gathering on Tuesday, May 21 at the Quaker Meeting House in Santa Cruz. Attendees will also hear from Nia Shima-Franklin, a UC Santa Cruz student, UN Practicum delegate and peer educator for SAFE, who also participated in the 2013 CSW.
WILPF, a global nonprofit that formed in the midst of World War I to promote women’s rights and end all forms of violence, nominated the pair to attend the CSW as delegates this past March.
Formed in 1946, the CSW is the UN’s primary global policy-making body dedicated to gender equality and the advancement of women. The commission, which consists of 45 member states from all over the world and a number of non-governmental organizations, comes together each year in early March at the UN headquarters in New York City to share issues each country faces in order to implement policies that will advance their goals.
The focus of the 2013 CSW was the elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls.
“I think there may have been a necessity to highlight the issue of violence because the global arms trade is out of control,” says Weed-Pomerantz. “It is out of control, and it is dramatically affecting families all over the world.”
The CSW consisted of 10 days of workshops and lectures presented by both the UN and participating organizations.
When choosing between the lectures and workshops at the CSW, Weed-Pomerantz decided she would attend events that carried hopeful messages.
“I was sheltering myself a little bit, because I didn’t want to see the brutality,” says Weed-Pomerantz. “I wanted to focus on what people are doing that’s making a difference to stop it.”
The “Ring the Bell” campaign was one of many from which Weed-Pomerantz drew inspiration. The worldwide campaign urges individuals that hear domestic violence in a neighboring residence to simply approach the domicile, ring the bell, and ask a random question. The hope is that the interruption of the conflict can sometimes end it.
Learning about groups like Canada’s White Ribbon Campaign (WRC) gave Shima-Franklin hope for the future of women’s rights. The WRC seeks to empower older men, especially educators, coaches, and other male role models, to teach boys about the importance of treating women with respect.
“Because I do feel that when women talk to men about women’s rights they immediately stop listening,” says Shima-Franklin.
According to Weed-Pomerantz, the May 21 debriefing will try to recreate the feel of the commission. There will be a general orientation and then “the bad news,” followed by a discussion, “the good news,” and a presentation of actions that individuals can take in the community.
“I feel very honored to have heard what many people had to share and say,” says Weed-Pomerantz. “And I will try to deliver it in as hopeful a voice as I possibly can.”
The UN Commission on the Status of Women update takes place from 7-9 p.m. on Tuesday, May 21 at the Quaker House, 225 Rooney St., Santa Cruz. Admission is free, but donations will be accepted. For more information call 428-5096.