By Florence Vargas
After three excellent, inspiring, comprehensive orientations—one prior, via conference call, and two on site—I was all set to go! Ready to take on the Commission on the Status of Women.
This year's session was examining progress for women in the 20 years since the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. By the end of the week I had attended ten parallel events on gender equality, gender and advertising, violence, the church as a sacred and safe place, the role of men and violence, religion as a cohesive force in violence and more than one on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
I attended the Latin American Caucus, attended two dinners and marched with my granddaughter at the International Women's Day March on Sunday, March 8.
The Presbyterian-sponsored event, Sacred and Safe: Building Capacity of Faith Communities to Address Gender Based Violence, was outstanding. The participants were top notch. I was especially touched when the women clergy—Muslim, Jewish and Presbyterian—in one voice gave the benediction.
At the beginning of the week, I recognized a few people from other events and other times, but by the end of week, I had more sisters (and two brothers). The young adult women were an inspiration to me and I'm sure to the rest of my new sisters.
Having my granddaughter as a roommate gave me the opportunity not only to get closer as family but also to listen to her views and opinions on everything going on. Sometimes we agreed and sometimes we didn't, but we heard and listened to each other.
We all had partners in order to have someone with whom to debrief and share. My partner and I were able to share thoughts and ideas in the midst of going back and forth to our events. I came home tired but invigorated, continuing to process the ideas, issues, solutions, recommendations and more that I experienced throughout the week. An enormous world that I had been missing.
Now what? CEDAW really caught my attention as something that I can initiate. I am dreaming big. Can San Sebastián, my hometown, be the first in Puerto Rico to sign a commitment with CEDAW?
This is the time to begin.
Editor's Note: To learn more about CEDAW, go to www.unwomen.org.