It is not actually the first day of the conference yet. Today was the NGO consultation day. It consisted of three panel discussions. The purpose of the consultation day is to help NGO participants become comfortable with the issues and to get us excited about the upcoming conference.
The first panel was on “Cities for Sustainable Development and Women’s Human rights” The highlight for me was Ambassador H. E. Carlos Enrique Garcia Gonzalez’s focus on putting humans at the center of government frameworks. Not money or processes but that governments exist to help their people and need to focus on them.
The second discussion was on “Legacy of the 1990’s UN conferences”. The major gift that the women’s movement received from these early conferences was that these women found each other. According to Charlotte Bunch, a feminist from the 1970’s, women were very isolated in regional NGO’s before, not realizing that the issue they were dealing with at home, women were dealing with everywhere. And these issues needed to be solved on a global scale. I loved Malika Dutt’s comment that women have to stop fighting for a seat at the table and just be glad we are there. We should be telling policy makers that their “table sucks”. As women we don’t think their table works to solve issues and we want to dismantle the table. I’m not entirely sure what that means but it sounded great.
The last panel discussion was titled “What do we want from Beijing +20?” Mostly that discussion was around the question of do we need another World UN Conference. Beijing was a milestone conference in that it identified goals for human rights. Which were identified as being the same as women’s rights.
One of the highlights of the day were the two poems done by Rhayna Ramana, the Youth Poet Laureate, New York City. Her poetry really isn’t something you can read it is really something that you need to hear.
For me the day ended with a reception hosted by the United States YWCA which gathered YWCA participants from the US, Canada, Palestine, Japan as well as representatives from the World YWCA. It was a great reception with a lot of discussion around what each YWCA was doing.
By the way, the YWCA was mentioned three times during the consultation day by the different keynote speakers. So yay us!