Sunday, March 8, 2015

First Day at UNCSW59 - March 7, 2015

This is a post devoted to photos from my arrival in New York City for the United Nations 59th annual Conference on the Status of Women (UNCSW59) through yesterday, the first day of events with the NGO "Ecumenical Women." I'm a delegate from the Episcopal Church's Diocese of Colorado, and I also serve on the church's Executive Council (its board of directors) as chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Advocacy and Networking for Mission. 

As someone who has focused intently on social justice and public policy issues for the church during my soon-to-end six-year term, being here at UNCSW59 has been "right up my alley," with presentations, panel discussions, and workshops on human rights for women and girls. My intention with this post is to give the wider church a sense of the flavor of being here at UNCSW59.

I'm with Helen Achol Abyei, also from the Diocese of Colorado. We met up in Denver for an interview that will be published in the diocesan newspaper, The Colorado Episcopalian. Helen is in her native dress from Sudan.

We arrived at LaGuardia Airport the day after a plane slid off the runway. Air traffic delays kept us on the ground an extra hour before our plane was released to fly. There was still a lot of snow and ice on the ground in New York, and we waited almost an hour in a very long queue for a taxi to take us to our mid-town hotel near the Church Center and the Untied Nations. Luckily, although it was very cold, the wind was not blowing.
Helen, Julia Ayala Harris from the Diocese of Oklahoma, and I walked over to Grand Central Station on our arrival night to find dinner on a budget in the food court on the lower level.
The orientation for the NGO Ecumenical Women, of which the Episcopal Church delegation is a member, took place a 9-block walk away at the Salvation Army's site, which included a ground floor chapel and upstairs meeting rooms. Here we are piling into the building for a hosted continental breakfast and a 9:00 AM worship start in the chapel. 
Some of our delegates before morning worship started: Glenda McQueen, Partnership Officer for Latin America and the Caribbean (R), Vaike Marika Madisson Lopez de Molina from the Diocese of Honduras (L), and Consuelo Sanchez Navarro, also from the Diocese of Honduras (R).
Joan Grimm Fraser from the Diocese of Long Island, who represents the church as our Provincial Representative in the Anglican Communion's delegation, and I tried a selfie after meeting each other for the first time. It turned out that Joan knows some of the same people I know from the Diocese of Colorado.
Another selfie:  I connected with Fern Lee Hagedorn from the ELCA Young Adult Cohort, and we chatted about being raised as Chinese American daughters and becoming lay Christian leaders.
Lynnaia Main, a member of our delegation, is the Global Relations Officer with primary responsibility for the church's United Nations relationship. She is the coordinator for our delegation. 
Lopa Banerjee, Chief of the Civil Society Section in UN Women, from India, moderated a panel discussion titled "Beijing Then and Now." She reiterated the three focal points that Executive Director Mlambo-Ngcuka cited as necessary to make progress on the Beijing Platform for Action: 1) Unrelenting political commitment; 2) Investment in gender equality; and 3) Strengthened civil society. During the panel discussion, the point was made that gender equality is a shared focus for human rights for all people, not just for women.
Prior to going to the United Nations Church Center for the afternoon's panel discussions and workshops, several of us stopped at the United Nations to register and obtain our official delegate's badge. One enters through a security building after showing identification and our official registration form. This is the lobby of the United Nations after we went through the separate security screening building.
Three of the church's delegation were just joining the line to get their U.N. badges:  Grace Aheron from the Diocese of Virginia (L), Hollee Martinez, Diocese of Texas (C), and Jayce Hafner, the church's Domestic Policy Analyst (R).
The orientation day closed with a worship service filled with intercessory prayer for the global family in the first floor chapel of the UN Church Center. 

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