Tag Archives: CSW63

Elevator Speech

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Where do you see yourself – your life experiences, passions, interests, concerns – connecting with the UNCSW priority theme and the three priorities lifted up in our Presiding Bishop’s written statement? What about the concerns of your church? Local community? Our wider Church? What personal illustrations might you draw upon to emphasize these priorities when you share this statement with stakeholders at the UN?

screen shot 2019-01-01 at 12.42.28 pmThat’s what we were asked to be ready to speak to for our most recent delegation meeting in preparation for the upcoming U.N. Commission on the Status of Women in March 2019.  Bishop Curry has submitted his written statement on this year’s Priority Theme outlining three main points, and what each one means to us as Episcopalians and followers of Christ.  His points are:

  1. Implement gender-responsive solutions to gaps in social protection systems, public services and sustainable infrastructure;
  2. Prioritize marginalized groups of women and girls in extending social protections, public services and sustainable infrastructure;
  3. Promote gender equality education and practices and eradicate gender-based violence.

Our task for this last meeting was to place ourselves in the theme and written statement, so to speak.  So, I read both, jotted down some cryptic notes, and joined the web conference.  And then silently panicked a little bit when we were asked to share our thoughts in the form of a 2-3 minute “elevator speech.”

Fortunately, we all seemed to be in the same boat.  And 3 minutes is SO short!! But we’ve all got such a variety of experience, that it was really powerful to hear each other’s stories! And, as we were reminded, the stories are compelling and will help influence the wording of policies that will be developed at the Commission on the Status of Women.

Our task, now, is to focus on those stories, refine our thoughts, and start to prepare to  explain and defend the Bishop’s written statement at the U.N. in March.  *Gulp*  It’s a little intimidating, to be honest!  Here’s what I’ve come up with so far, though, a little overview of some of the stories I hope to share, with fake names, of course:

  • Sara, whose husband refused her access to any money and occasionally roughed her up, stayed for years until she finally escaped with her two daughters;
  • Yvonne, deported at age 13 and dumped in Mexico, a country she didn’t remember, without an adult with her, sold her young body for cash to survive as she walked across the desert to get back to her parents in Texas, years later to become pregnant and homeless, giving birth at 23 weeks gestation to Baby Marco who will have significant developmental delays and physical disabilities for the rest of his life;
  • Gulf War Veteran with no legs and no wheel chair, living in tent city, self-medicating with heroin, craving a glass of cold milk and in need of tampons;
    tent city
    Tent City, Dallas, Texas
  • Farah, a refugee from the Middle East whose husband became addicted to meth while they were in a refugee camp and then began beating her until she finally left with her small son and lived in women’s shelters for months worrying about how she would support them without an education or a social network;
  • Grace, who recently transitioned socially to being a woman, lost her job, and was making ends meet by tending bar while spending all her free time advocating for other young trans people who often lose their jobs, their families, and are at high risk for physical and sexual assault; and,
  • Alicia, a senior citizen living in public housing and unable to work since cancer ravaged her body, raised her two small grandchildren for 3 years while her daughter did time for a drug charge, then took emergency custody of a cousin’s baby to remove the her from the home of a registered pedophile.

So.  How about that list?  Those stories are about women we’ve served through our Hands & Feet Ministry at St. Andrew’s!  I just love that I get to carry our ministry with me to the United Nations, to tell the stories of women we are personally connected to, and urge those in power to improve the lives of women by prioritizing and empowering them through social protection systems, public services, and sustainable infrastructure.

As you might have caught, there are some themes and patterns in the stories:

  • The need for education and financial independence;
  • The plight of refugees and immigrants;
  • Gender discrimination in the workplace;
  • Sexual assault and violence against women;
  • The challenges of those with illnesses, special needs and disabilities.

Over the next couple weeks, I’ll be picking through those themes, writing and rehearsing my “elevator speeches.” If you have questions, comments or insight to share, please do!  I’d love to hear from you and take your thoughts into consideration as I write.  Thanks in advance for your help!

Please pray with me:

Lord, we lift these women to you and ask that you keep us ever mindful that they are so much more than their stories, that they are real people, created in your image, loved deeply by you. Break the hearts of those of us who have any little bit of influence, that we might truly see the challenges women face and be stirred by the Holy Spirit to always fight for justice in our own communities and around the world. In Jesus’ precious name. Amen.

If you’d like to contribute to the GoFundMe we set up to help me fund the $5,600 trip to Manhattan for two weeks, click here.  I appreciate every penny!Screen Shot 2019-01-13 at 11.50.43 PM.png

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Thanks & My Role at the UNCSW

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screen shot 2019-01-01 at 12.45.23 pmFriends,

To say I’m overwhelmed by your generosity is surely an understatement.  To think that in just one week, you all have invested nearly $3,400 in this mission astounds me.  It’s not common for me to be left speechless, but I really do feel dumbfounded by your generosity. When I started this journey, I was a little worried (OK maybe more than a little) that I wasn’t going to make the goal of $5,600.  Now, I can see the finish line and I am strongly reminded that God provides! He certainly has provided me with wonderful friends and brothers and sisters in Christ. I offer to him prayers of thanksgiving for each and every one of you.  Thank you for your gifts.

Over the last week, I’ve been asked many times about the role I’ll play in the UNCSW (United Nations Commission on the Status of Women). Thank you for being excited about this opportunity and for all the words of encouragement you’ve offered!  Because so many of you are interested, I thought I’d tell you a little bit about it.

Essentially, the Commission on the Status of Women meets to determine policy within the “priority theme” and to outline the ways and means to make that happen. They then prepare a written statement of those policies and strategies for UN member nations to execute as part of their responsibilities in their homelands.  The Episcopal delegation is one of the church groups that, along with many other NGOs (nongovernmental organizations), participate in the Commission by weighing in on the policy when we have the chance to do so, advocating for what is important to us as a church, and doing what we can to influence the language around the policies and thus the policies themselves.  

I see this as the Church’s opportunity to speak truth into a gathering of the nations:  that as the CSW works to flush out this year’s “priority theme” (see the photo), breaking it down for execution, setting forth the nations’ work for the upcoming year towards achieving the priority theme for marginalized women and girls, the Church will be there to remind policy makers that women and girls are spiritual beings, children of God, not just abstract populations of faceless people in the margins. We are there to voice to the decision makers that during conversations about policy and strategy, they must not ignore or overlook that status, that the women and girls they wish to protect and empower are first and foremost children of their Creator.  

We will also be there, as individuals and as the Church, to advocate for women and children, the way Jesus himself advocated for the poor and the oppressed.  To me personally, this is the aspect of being a delegate to which I most feel called. Those of you who know me won’t be surprised. This is the work of our Hands & Feet Ministry at St. Andrew’s: to call the Church out into the world, to go witness a world in distress, wrought with injustice, poverty and hunger where we might join God in his work of healing and reconciliation, following his lead and caring for his children.  I have the opportunity to be part of the bigger picture of the work I’ve already been doing locally; now I get to put to that ministry and other work I’ve done in my life to good use with the potential to have lasting impact beyond our community. I get to tell the stories of women we have served to people who hold great power.  I’m humbled and so very pleased to see God tugging at threads from so many other areas of my life to apply to such a task.

The priority theme of the UNCSW this year is:

Social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.  

We will also review the theme from the prior year:  

Women’s empowerment and the link to sustainable development (agreed conclusions of the sixtieth session).

If you’ve read this far and are still interested, I’ll do my best to post more as I read and learn more. I ask only one thing in return: that you pray for the Commission, for the Episcopal Delegation, the leaders of the nations, and most importantly, for all women and girls around the world who might be impacted by our work.  Thank you!

Yours in Christ,

Dana

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Dreaming of the United Nations

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img_6649Dear Friends,

When I was 19, I spent a semester abroad in Guadalajara, Mexico. One of my first and most powerful experiences was in a crowded downtown plaza.  A young girl of certain privilege and inexperience, I sat with my roommate eating popcorn when a little waif of a girl with dirt on her face appeared in front of me, squeezing through the sea of legs to reach her hand out to me, pointing to the popcorn. I tried to gulp down the giant lump in my throat as I held out the bag to her, and then nearly died of heartbreak when she reached in and took one little piece – just one piece! – and disappeared back into the crowd. I, of course, had meant for her to take the whole bag! In that moment, though I didn’t recognize it till much later, serving women and girls on the margins sort of grabbed hold of my heart, and it hasn’t let go.  At one point, I even dreamed of serving at the United Nations to promote the empowerment of women around the globe!

dana mexico

Guadalajara, Mexico

With great excitement, I can tell you that dream is finally coming true!  I have been invited by Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, to represent him at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. It is a huge honor and I am so humbled!  I am thrilled to participate in such an event, to help make decisions about how best to empower women and promote gender equality around the world. I believe the work of empowering women is of the utmost importance, that this is a fantastic opportunity for our church to lead the way in building God’s kingdom here on earth by working for the well-being of women and girls, and that this is work that I have been called to since a young age.

To serve, I need to be in Manhattan at the United Nations for two weeks in March

dana haiti 12.33.55 pm

Ouanaminthe, Haiti

2019 (3/8-3/22) and have been told to expect my expenses to total approximately $5,600, to include airfare, housing, meals and other program-related expenses.

Most importantly, I hope you’ll pray for me, for the other 9 delegates of the Episcopal Church, for the Presiding Bishop and his staff, and for the Commission on the Status of Women.

Will you also help me make my service as a delegate possible?

Thank you for any size gift you might offer to help my dream come true and to make my service on the delegation possible.  I will be happy to report back to you after the event if you’d like to hear about the Commission’s work. I will keep you updated as I prepare for and then serve at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, and I know you will join me there in spirit.

Yours in Christ,

Dana

 

babynoah

Dallas, Texas

Read a letter of support from the Episcopal Church here:
Episcopal Church Support Letter

Read more about the Commission here:
UN Commission on the Status of Women  

This is the link to the GoFundMe page embedded above: https://www.gofundme.com/trip-to-un-for-commission-on-status-of-women&rcid=r01-154743669287-92cc04ad0720458f&pc=ot_co_campmgmt_w