By Norma Maldonado  Guatemala, NGO Tierra Verde, WEDO & WECF EWA delegation

The injustices we see everyday could make one a non-believer in anyone and anything. To lose hope or not to lose hope.

I can still remember taking my first steps towards participation and engagement with processes within the United Nations. I remember observing lots of people from the Northern hemisphere, who were more engaged and involved with the UN — maybe because it is based in NY City, the city that never sleeps,

First, I read about them, heard about the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). They sounded so far away, like written wishes by someone on another planet – either very naïve or very smart – to convince the world that with those goals we could achieve justice in the development of families, girls, kids of all ages, youth.

But they were written within the UN system.  I decided there was no way I could participate in anything related to that.

Then in 2009, I found myself engaged with the climate change crowd- made up of all kinds of people in Copenhagen. I remember talking to the mostly white youth disheartened by the politics of their governments. I talked to them as they gathered waiting to hear Naomi Klein in the autonomous neighborhood of Freetown Christiania. I talked to them before she arrived in a huge tent that was raided by the police an hour later.  That night I walked back to the boat where I was staying and felt that it was right for us in the South to share knowledge and experiences with young generations anywhere!

Copenhagen was a rude, cruel but beautiful start for me, seeing that the world’s suffering is making us come together, and that we have to teach each other. Nights like those have multiplied, highlighting that, as said by an old wise man in the tropics, we are in era of the battle of ideas, those are our tools.

Last week, participating in the CSW gave me another chance to hear, to share and to battle my own self righteousness listening to young generations. Expecting to come up with another world, one designed by us, one where we can have a loud voice. A voice that is multiplied by so many that can’t speak to these crowds; that are far away.  We speak to each other; sometimes or most times we speak to the already converted, but with that we rediscover our own, and discover the heart and souls of the younger– and most important we help them discover their great strength and capabilities. I shared much  of my time in NY discussing, talking, laughing and inventing a new world with a young Kazakh woman, Elina Doszhanova, whose last name I continually pronounced incorrectly,  and with Isis Alvarez from Colombia– both very bright and committed activists. It’s worth noting that CSW was the largest event ever held at UN Headquarters; maybe it is because we have rediscovered our strength in others.

I don’t know how much of our input linking women/structural violence/sustainable development will be reflected in the language of CSW let alone the development, implementation or monitoring of  any SDGs, with so many fences, scanners,  barriers, layers, and strong lobbying by the powerful in the picture at the UN. One thing is clear though, the discussions of all these women, young and old, in the bars, cafes and delis, between First and Third Avenues and between 39th and 51st streets – they are not a waste.


Strategizing and Sharing

EWA Delegates enjoying dinner together

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Women and girls around the world are demanding and creating systemic change and a sustainable future for all. We need collective power to attain a just future – we need you.