IMG_4721Dearest Red Thread Nationers,

This year the UNCSW57 was a wild ride and I was so glad to be there and a part of making history. And so delighted to be able to share the work of the 42 women artists who are the Color of Woman graduate Teachers as a part of the evidence that healing is possible through creative acts. In the ‘grand scheme’ I often question, what is it that can really make a contribution? And yes, I am here to say that I know that the arts are healing for all beings post-trauma. Whether that trauma is abuse at the level of war, or trauma at the level of living an unexpressed life, when we are able to find our voices, healing happens. This is just how it works, and we all know that telling our stories is a huge part of the healing journey – especially if we have been silenced.

At the end of this year’s CSW57 there was victory through the outcomes, but there were days and days of conflict and uncertainty that needed our immediate attention and the signatures of our global family. I was so amazed, as were many of those present, that there were some who wanted to challenge the already established international agreements on women’s human rights. Sigh. Really? Isn’t there other work to do that involves water, shelter, safety, and love that is more essential to the work at hand than: condemns the document’s wording on sexual freedoms and the rights of children born out of wedlock.

We are sharing with with you here in the quotes below because you wanted to know what happened, so here is some of the story.602192_10151459420783788_918257251_n Thank you so much to Assistant Editor and Artist Kate Langlois for gathering this information together to share with our readers. We need to be informed in order to act from love. We aren’t truly acting from love if we aren’t paying attention to what is happening to our precious families.

Many are working towards bringing good and transformation. I had the pleasure of being in the room during one such conversation and as I sat behind the Nation placard like the other big kids and I asked myself, since I represent the Red Thread Nation, A Tribe of Creative Beings – What issue would I raise? What is it that I would say if Madame Speaker called on me?

Stay tuned in the coming posts to learn about the powerful and daring actions the Red Thread Nation is weaving together. Since my return, my own red threads, and my mission for being here on this earth have taken on new meaning. The sense of being a part of the larger picture of what is happening in the world is present in each moment. Indeed my soulfire was activated. There is a renewed sense of what we are capable of, combined with how far we have to go to get to what is really possible. A topic of great interest that I was recently discussing with Lys Anzia, Founder of WNN, Women’s News Network – is how we can learn to  manage to hold the suffering, the truths, and still find the joy and possibility amidst the paradox. This is our work now. So. Let’s get to it, shall we?
On this Friday evening at the end of March, we have just completed enrollment for the Color of Woman 2013 Teacher Training, and I suspect many of us will be at the United Nations next year, with red threads connecting us around the world.
Thank you again to Lys Anzia of WNN and Lois Herman of WUNRN for giving me the opportunity to journey to the United Nations with you – and the share the healing work of women through creativity and poetry.

Many blessings to each of you right where you are. Holding the Red Thread of Connection with you,
Shiloh Sophia

If you missed the Soul-Fire slideshow in the first posts about my journey to the United Nations, you can find it HERE

Moving Forward with a Call to Action
Red Thread Nation shares about the outcomes of CSW57- United Nations Commission on the Status of Women 57th session.

Basic CMYK

Michelle Bachelet:  “UN Women stands ready to support countries to turn agreement into action”
The historic 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women produced an agreement that paves the way for action to prevent and end violence against women and girls. As Ms. Bachelet said in her closing statement, “This agreement is one step more for realizing the rights and dignity of girls and women. But we cannot stop here…We need to do so much more. Words now need to be matched with deeds, with action. Now is the time for implementation and accountability. We must continue moving forward, with courage, conviction and commitment.”

UN Photo Credit UN WomenCatianne Tijerina

Photo Credit-UN Women Catianne Tijerina

WUNRN-Women’s UN Report Network-‘The document adopted by the Commission condemns in the strongest terms the pervasive violence against women and girls, and calls for increased attention and accelerated action for prevention and response…. The best way to end violence against women is to stop it from happening in the first place….By adopting this document, governments have made clear that discrimination and violence against women and girls has no place in the 21st century. They have reaffirmed their commitment and responsibility to undertake concrete action to end violence against women and girls and promote and protect women’s human rights and fundamental freedoms….The agreement is one step more for realizing the rights and dignity of women and girls. But we cannot stop here. We need to do so much more. Words now need to be matched with deeds, with action. Now is the time for implementation and accountability. We must continue moving forward with courage, conviction and commitment….There is no turning back. We will keep moving forward to the day when women and girls can live free of fear, violence and discrimination. The 21st century is the century of inclusion and women’s full and equal rights and participation.’
‘The conclusions in the final outcome document say that violence against women has a short- and long-term effect on sexual and reproductive health and that governments should provide survivors and victims with access to related services….Up to seven out of every 10 women will suffer violence in their lifetimes, according to U.N. figures. And about 603 million women live in countries where domestic violence is not a crime…. It’s strong on such issues as providing emergency contraception to survivors of sexual assault. The document also condemns gender-related killings, or femicide, and violence against women and girls in conflict and post-conflict settings ….It agrees to protect female human rights defenders and says no custom, tradition or religious custom should stop governments from working to eliminate violence against women….Amy Lieberman is the U.N. correspondent for Women’s eNews.
The Guardian UK-One of the most significant was new text on protection for female human rights defenders – women working and campaigning for women’s rights who face violence both because of their work and because of their gender. Unsurprisingly, given the records of rights abuses in many of the countries present, there was push-back on this and its inclusion caused genuine celebration among the activists present, many of whom face backlash and hostility every day.
Most notable was new language recommending that emergency contraception is provided for women who have been raped, an absolutely vital and humane basic service….Another striking victory was a call for the development of comprehensive sex education. Often portrayed by opponents as teaching kids to have sex, it is important that countries were able to see past the misinformation and recognise that this is about ensuring young people have the information they need to make informed decisions and protect their health.
If we’ve learned anything from the process it’s that in UN negotiations, semantics matter; language against “child, early and forced” marriage rather than just “child” marriage was an important gain, recognizing that in some contexts girls are no longer considered children after their first period, and extending the document to cover tens of thousands of adolescent girls married every year.
Perhaps the biggest victory came right at the end. Recognizing that negotiations were unlikely to finish on time, the CSW chair, Marjon V Kamara, proposed a new draft based on the negotiations to that point – a take it or leave it option. One of her changes was the deletion of a hotly debated paragraph reaffirming the sovereign right of each country to implement CSW recommendations “consistent with national laws and development priorities, with full respect for the various religious and ethical values and cultural backgrounds of its people”. This paragraph sent a dangerous signal that women’s rights are optional and provided a get-out clause for unsupportive governments. It was a huge relief to many to see it removed. –Rowan Harvey is women’s rights advocacy adviser for ActionAid UK.-

One Woman

A sigh of relief, but the fight continues

Civil society organizations and U.N. member states were largely relieved that a document of “Agreed Conclusions” came through this year, after last year’s CSW session failed to produce one.
“It was a very difficult process because of the broad range of political interests and agendas that member states represent,” said Mavic Cabrera-Balleza, international coordinator for the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP). This year, “we (successfully) lobbied for language on the link between violence against women and peace and security, women human rights defenders, sexual and reproductive health, small arms and light weapons,” she told IPS. “(But) the final document was not as strong as we want it to be,“ she said. Cabrera-Balleza noted that member states failed to “reaffirm” – and only “recalls” – Security Council resolutions 1325, 1820, 1888, 1889, and 1960 on women, peace and security. “However, in negotiations with member states, you cannot play an ‘all or nothing’ game,” she explained.
Radhika Balakrishnan, executive director of the Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL) at Rutgers University, told IPS, “There were quite a few things we gained in this new document… which we might have lost if negotiations continued. One of the successes was that (member states) weren’t able to invoke (traditional values and morals),” she said, noting that some governments had been trying to use “traditional values” – as well as “state sovereignty” – as a trump card against women’s human rights. “But many issues that women’s groups have been fighting for, (such as) sexual orientation (and) gender identity, were lost in the document,” she noted.
Daniela Rosche, a policy and advocacy adviser in gender justice for Oxfam, told IPS that CSW57 established new norms, but did not address how to implement them. “If you really want to do something to fight the surge of violence and take concrete steps to solve it, you need to also develop an ‘international action plan’, basically to operationalize the standards that are there,” she said. “We couldn’t convince governments to commit to this,” she added. “What would ensure accountability is (if they) set concrete targets,” she said, citing the annual Millennium Development Goals reports as an example.
On Mar.15, the spokesperson for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement welcoming the conclusions of CSW57: “No matter where she lives, no matter what her culture, no matter what her society, every woman and girl is entitled to live free of fear. She has the universal human right to be free from all forms of violence so as to fulfill her full potential and dreams for the future.”
Click HERE to view the full unedited, Agreed Conclusions Document for The elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls.

Soul Fire

Painting by Shiloh Sophia McCloud

Celebrating these decisive outcomes around the world, we eagerly look forward to seeing these agreements coming into form. Alongside the imminent call to action we might also ask these questions:

What is our own role in helping to build the bridge of support in future sessions?
What piece of the red thread are you holding?
What would you say, if the Speaker of the House called on you?

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.” ~ Rumi