The Women's Federation for World Peace International held their annual parallel event during the ten-day 60th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW60). Mrs. Alexa Ward, Deputy Director, WFWPI UN Office, moderated a panel of four women speakers at this historic event entitled: "Engaging Women in Sustainable Development: Family. Transformation. Co-Prosperity."
This first CSW event after the launching of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) focused on the role and importance of women as mothers, wives and leaders and was enthusiastically celebrated by women of different races, nationalities and backgrounds. Those in attendance were reminded that the hand that rocks the cradle produces the future leaders that can rock a nation and rule the world.
Dr. Amalle Daou, medical doctor, wife of former Permanent Representative of Mali to the UN, and founder of Active Intervention for Mothers (AIM), shared about AIM's mission and commitment to improving maternal and child health, highlighting the organization's direct support of the MDGs No. 4, 5, and 6 and SDGs No. 3 and 6. Since its creation, AIM has been providing free medical visits and distributing free medications to women in need while raising awareness of the warning signs of maternal and child mortality. She also outlined AIM's vision for comprehensive sustainable development and stressed that global development should be based upon the four pillars of peace, universal human rights, green economy, and global partnership. Within these pillars, AIM identifies peace, security, and stability as the cornerstones of CSD and supports the enactment of "paid family leave." Dr. Daou concluded by calling for greater engagement of women in sustainable development as warranted by gender equality's crucial role in the proper implementation of the SDGs. She reminded us that persisting gender gaps resulting in lack of female access to property, transport, education, and health services will threaten sustainable livelihoods for women, subsequently hindering the overall implementation of the SDGs.
Annie Franklin, Director of International Activities, Family Watch International, presented "Motherhood and the Family," stating that mothers hold the future in their hands and need to feel empowered. Motherhood is increasingly being viewed as an unfair burden placed on females due to childbirth, with women prolonging careers and finding their value in competing with men.
Franklin cited the Journal of Genetic Psychology to point out that the availability of the mother brings more self-esteem and resilience to children as they deal with life events. If the mother is absent, children were often found to be more lonely, depressed and anxious. The presence of fathers was demonstrated to be equally important in preventing child abuse occurring in single-parent and co-habitating couple homes. The Secretary General stated that "The stability and cohesiveness of communities and societies rest on the strength of the family." (SG Family Report 2011 A/66/62-E/2011/4). Professor Richard Wilkens of the Doha Institute found "Healthy, stable families had significant benefits for children and their parents and for society."
Mrs. Carolyn Handschin, Director of WFWPI UN Office, in her presentation, "Can the SDGs bring us to Co-Prosperity?" applauded the SDGs for providing a framework for global thinking but emphasized the limitations in the enforcement of those goals. She suggested that co-prosperity could be achieved by people living for others, which, although not a generally practiced concept by individuals, is a practice lived out in families every day.
According to Charles Malik, "The fastest way to change a society is to mobilize the women of the world." Only love that is inclusive and respectful of all can be the incentive to transform lives and cause people to think of the welfare of others more than their own. Dr. Denis Mukwege of the DRC, known as "The man who mends women," was cited as a role model for viewing each of the 30,000 female victims of sexual violence that he has treated as if they were his own wife, daughter or mother. Mrs. Handschin's presentation concluded with the observation that in order to achieve the SDGs, governments, civil society, and families intersecting with religion and cultural spheres must work together. Families have the potential to live in a culture of peace because they were trained in a microcosm of one.
Sharon Pedrosa, Co-founder of Montage Initiative's Student Advisory Board, gave the final presentation on "Sustainable Development in India: Women Taking the Lead." She cited The World Commission on Environment and Development's definition of sustainable development as "…development that meets the needs of the present without compromising their own needs." Yet, even with changing laws, the enforcement of such laws is lagging.
Pedrosa found that women in India deferred their own right to vote to their husband's voting choice. When widowed, women only had a right to property if there were no sons. Pedrosa stressed that sustainability can only be achieved when women are valued and respected.
During the question and answer session following the presentations, middle school students in attendance from the School of Science and Technology asked some insightful questions. One young student asked, "What will make these goals a reality?" The answer given was the citation of the preamble in the GA Resolution/70/1 which states: "We are resolved to free the human race from the tyranny of poverty and want to heal and secure our planet. We are determined to take the bold and transformative steps which are urgently needed… As we embark on this collective journey, we pledge that no one will be left behind."
The students were told that if all Heads of State began their cabinet meeting each day by reading the Preamble, Heads of State could take steps to meet each goal and target. Those present realized that among the youth, there might emerge some who could, from the day's inspiration, be impacted to make the SDGs a reality - perhaps sooner than the target realization year 2030.