Stories of Women's Leadership

March 18, 2014 - UN Church Center, New York
At-the-UN/CSW-Conferences/CSW58-Parallel-Event-2014
By: Melissa Gontijo

CSW58 WFWPI Parallel Event

Once the luncheon program finished, people made their way to the United Nation's Church Center Hardin Room for the parallel event organized by WFWP International, and cosponsored by The Sound Essence Project and WFWP USA.

Speakers:

  • Carolyn Handschin, Director UN Office Geneva, WFWP International
  • Sachiko Kimura, Overseas Volunteer for Zambia, WFWP
  • Arceli Hernando, Ph. D, Director of Student Affairs, Bohol Island University, Philippines
  • Greta Anderson, Young Adult Volunteer, USA

Moderator: Alexa Ward, Director UN Office New York, WFWP International

Presenting in a standing room only crowd of close to one hundred people, Ms. Carolyn Handschin brought the audience into the heart of human rights issues with her candid story of a mother in Saudi Arabia saving her son from a life of terrorist activities. She spoke about the importance of family and parenthood in the development of women; as well as about the importance of helping women see themselves as agents of change in their families. She coined the term "familiarchy", where parents, children and extended family members cooperate to enhance each other's' value, expanding naturally to an inclusive system of government in which men and women share responsibility equally. To help in sustaining the MDG goals she hopes that these practices enhance everyone's values, empower families and lead to children learning leadership skills.

Ms. Sachiko Kimura, project director and overseas volunteer for Zambia, graciously reflected on her experiences initiating and sustaining service work in Zambia, Africa. Her passion focuses on a food program she created to provide nutritional guidance for mothers. She has been able to share with the local mothers the importance and nutritional value of soybeans and its substantial protein content. She held classes to hand out soy powder, to weigh the children, to teach mothers how to cook and also how to feed. As a result, most kids gained weight and the mothers felt empowered to teach other mothers. Challenges faced included students not always graduating and mothers not being able to find transportation to get to class. At the core of her experience Ms. Kimura felt that leadership from mothers is vital to replicating sustainable projects.

Arceli Hernando, Ph.D. commented on disruptive issues that sometimes plague university environments. As Student Affairs Director at a university with 14,000 students, Dr. Hernando is like a mother to thousands of students on her campus. She has come to realize that the issue is fear; this can only be conquered through education and empowerment. She decided to mobilize a project called Town Organizations. Students in their groups, organized by their home origin, went back to their communities and began by contributing in small ways to make a difference. Through this initiative the project is building leaders among girls and boys, creating bonds between people and encouraging student development. She was also emboldened by the idea of the Mother's Hearts Network, a project of WFWP, Philippines to connect and reach out to 20 million women around the world in efforts to raise their children to be patriots and for women to be the standard bearers of truth, beauty and goodness.

The final speaker was Ms. Greta Anderson, a young woman in her mid-twenties, raised in Minnesota, spoke on her travels through Israel, Palestine and Uganda. Greta captivated the audience with her passion for serving others. Leaving her job in New York to travel the world while trying to discover what and where peace is, she became humbled by her experiences. She joined several small organizations in these countries to see through the lives of the people she met. Greta was involved with peace keeping, justice, and education. She came to understand the importance of developing bonds of trust with those being served. She encouraged the audience to commit to being of service by starting with small achievements that can lead to bigger ones, maximize our resources, and share our ideas to see hope and peace.

Ms. Alexa Ward concluded the event by thanking the speakers for sharing their stories of leadership and providing valuable insights as the UN community continues to deliberate on the development agenda for the period following that of the MDGs, known as the post 2015 agenda.