Mr Ban Ki-Moon inspired us all with his call to launch a global campaign to end violence against women. He said "I am counting on you - advocates from Government, civil society and the UN - to carry our message around the world." His speech ended with a blast of whistles, by both the Secretary-General and delegates and officials, signalling the call the stop the violence.
The CSW is extremely well attended for this session, and the main opening was expanded to two main UN session rooms to enable as many people as possible to hear all the opening remarks. All are published on the UN site at http://www.un.org/News/
Lunch found us searching for a SMOKE FREE cafe! One of the peculiarities of the UN being a stateless building is that smoke free legislation has not happened, something us smoke free Brits find quite odd. However, a foray to the upper floors found us in the One World cafe, where you share your lunch with very many nationalities along with spectacular views over the River Hudson.
Post lunch we attended a UNite (UN campaign to stop the violence) meeting - a Special Event on Violence against Women organized by the Officer of the Special Advisor on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women. An excellent panel included Rachel N. Mayanja, Kevin Powell, a New York-based writer and political activist involved in preventing gender violence for over 17 years, Michealeane Risley, a women’s advocate and award-winning documentarian, Todd Minerson, Executive Director of the White Ribbon Campaign, Prateek Suman Awasthi, who worked with the India-based Men against Violence and Abuse organisation, Anne Sosin, Founder and Director of Vizyon Dwa Ayisyen/Haiti Rights Vision and Captain Aimable Mushabe, a Rwandan military officer.
We were fascinated by their very practical and moving stories of what they were each doing on the ground with their organisations, and the ensuing Q&A session from the floor proved lively.
One of the interesting things of being at the CSW is the huge variety of views and activists here. There is a main thread that binds us all, but with a vast mixture of 'how do we get there' processes and practical thoughts.
During the afternoon Fiona also took part in a drafting session for resolutions following yesterdays brainstorming sessions, and we all attended the launch of a tool for working out how to audit your organisation and functions for gender equality at all levels.
Then we have to admit to hitting a bar!!
The evening was an excellent reception at the UK Mission to the UN with Sir John Sawers, UK Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York. We met most of the UK delegation during the evening from a cross section of groups and organisations.
Tomorrow we are looking at implementing UN resolution 1325, finding the 'power' in empowerment, and following up on the work we have already done on the Africa Women's Protocol. Also the UNIFEM 'Getting some action' session - still trying to work out what to expect from that!! So very varied to say the least!
The main Commission sessions tomorrow are an expert panel on financing for gender equality and capacity building and mainstreaming a gender perspective.