This past week Sande Hart, the Director of the Charter for Compassion Women and Girls and Charter for Compassion International Board representative Laura Burgis attended and conducted a workshop at the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations in New York City.
The NGO Committee on the Status of Women, NY (NGO CSW/NY), supports the work of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women and UN Women. NGO CSW/NY is an untiring advocate with Member States for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls across the globe in support of the work of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women and UN Women. NGO CSW/NY supports the implementation of the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, UN Security Resolution 1325, the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
By Sande Hart
I found myself quite frustrated that change was not happening fast enough, that the topics presented hadn’t improved since my last CSW 2 years ago. With this many powerful women and men showing up, with this clear understanding of the issues at hand, be it human trafficking, economic imbalance and injustice, the assault on our environment, the interreligious and cultural wars, all perpetuating the violence on women and girls, all issues still remain as, if not more, threatening than ever.
That is, until I got into smaller conversations over meals or in hallways. I was reinvigorated. Change is in the air- especially after hearing that the US sent C-FAM amongst their delegation to CSW. One of C-FAM’s core’s missions, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center is to advance laws that restrict the rights and protections of LGBTQ people and also to discourage CEDAW (the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against All Forms of Violence Against Women), which Jimmy Carter passed but still not ratified. The US joins Somalia, Iran, Sudan, Tonga and the Holy See).
It’s in this heightened tension that change is made more possible. But, what is required to keep that moral outrage channeled and effective? We believe this answer emerges when all are reminded of the capacity of compassion and the power it holds when considered at all levels and all sectors of our communities, and in policy and decision-making. This, coupled with our greatest opportunities for change lie when we provide spaces for all voices to be heard and leadership to be fostered. (Our Ambassador program is an example of this).
The Charter for Compassion Women and Girls co-conducted the workshop, “Sacred Listening to Compassionate Action, Every Voice Counts”. Unique to most all other workshops, ours was conducted in circle and every voice was heard, to say the least. We also broke into one-on-one dialogue conversations that we made sure were intergenerational so that all ideas and could go deeper, modeling sacred listening along the way. We collaborated with, and were represented by the UN NGO United Religions Initiative, led by Monica Willard, and Circle Connections, led by Ann Landass Smith, a master circle facilitator. We knew that the people who were showing up to CSW had a deep wisdom and broad scope of important work that needed to be shared. Our workshop provided that environment.
2 examples of Compassion in Action
Sister Sabina from Lahore Pakistan left the covenant after 22 years to better serve women and girls who cannot leave their homes. Her organization teaches women who do not feel safe leaving their homes how to sew and empowers them with a sustainable craft. They are then given their own sewing machines. The women are now leaving their homes, making their own money and getting their girls educated
We were also blessed to have in our circle Dr. Pam Rajput. Dr. Rajput, the Indian academic turned internationally renowned activist who has been engaged in the women's movement since the mid-70s both in India and internationally. She is a sought after panelist and keynote and she mentioned how important circle work was. In the environment of CSW, with a lot of monologues, all eyes facing in one direction, and power point presentations, ours was a welcome dynamic.
Sabina spontaneously decided she wanted to sing a verse from an old Indian song, "We Will Win". As she began singing in Urdu, Pam and another Pakistani woman sang along. They stood together to sing- one from India, two from Pakistan. As they later embraced, Pam declared, "Politicians wage wars, women wage peace."
Laura brought her powerful and shape-shifting daughter Liz and her equally powerful friend Maysoon, both high school students. They brought great wisdom and inspiration to our circle and along with the other young women we all left knowing we were cared for and heard, supported in our work and empowered to keep channeling our power, only now infused with a new understanding that compassion is an important and sustainable tool to advance our work.
We honored all those who could not join us at CSW due to the recent Muslim Ban by making sure to keep an empty chair in our circle. This was done throughout the conference.
Ultimately, we modeled collaboration, feminine leadership, the power of compassion, an understanding how the Charter can transform cities, and women being honored for the work they are each doing. Mostly, we set the field for miracles to happen
All left with a copy of the Charter for Compassion and an invitation.
Reaction to Response
Along with our partner organizations, we recognize the need for a greater inclusion of voices and involvement of women in leadership in the global healing and transformation that is occurring. For that purpose, we further provide opportunities for voices to be heard with the Reaction to Response Webinar Series. Visit our pages and see the broad spectrum of conversations we are convening over the next 10 months. Sponsorship opportunties are also available.
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