BVMs, Students Experience ‘Interconnectedness’ of the CSW

The U.N. Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) held its 59th annual session in New York City in March. BVMs Mary Martens (Loras) from Dubuque, Iowa; Marilyn Wilson (Claudia Mary) from Sunnyvale, Calif.; and Helen Wolkerstorfer (Edith) and two seniors from Bishop Garcia Diego HS in Santa Barbara, Calif.; attended this year’s event. BVMs are one of the sponsors of the Loretto Community Non-governmental Organization (NGO), which was represented by 34 students and adults at this year’s session.

Events on Sunday, March 8, included International Women’s Day, where student participants created posters for the celebration march, and Consultation Day, which allows civil society to give input to the representatives of the U.N. Member States who formulate U.N. policy. The day’s final event celebrated “Beijing + 20,” the 20th anniversary of the Fourth International Conference on Women held in China in 1995. Thousands of women, along with men allies, marched and gathered for a rally in Times Square. Banners and posters proclaimed the continuing push for women’s equality worldwide: “Planet 50-50 by 2030.”

Official representatives of the U.N. held their own policy meetings, while approximately 9,000 other CSW attendees chose from many parallel events. The BVMs and students made their own selections of panel presentations from a variety of social justice, nonviolence and peace issues.

The group heard from women from Kenya, Jordan, Sri Lanka, Ireland, Switzerland, Argentina, Sweden, India, the Netherlands, Cameroon, Guatemala, Honduras, Uganda, Bangladesh, and the Philippines. They recognized their interconnectedness as women, and the importance of using their collective voices and partnerships with men to bring about a transformed, nonviolent world. In a world of equal respect and freedom, equal representation and leadership, equal rights and opportunities, empowering women means empowering humanity.

The CSW session concluded with an agreement by U.N. Member States on steps to boost efforts to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment. The world waits with hope that “power over” gradually gives way to “power with.”

BVM Marilyn Wilson comments, “It was good to be in the white-haired minority—much to listen to and learn from the energy, enthusiasm and realism of those younger generations.” Helen Wolkerstorfer, BVM adds, “I am glad for time to think about the riches of the CSW experience, sort through notes, and be grateful. The experience has been such a gift and I look forward to sharing it.” The students from Bishop Garcia Diego HS plan to present a video/PowerPoint presentation of their experience.