Orientation for the 57th Commission on the Status of Women - Sunday
Michelle Bachelet, director of UN Women (center front) poses with the young women and teens at the orientation session, including Rachel De La Haya (first to the right of Bachelet), a Notre Dame of Maryland University student with the SSND delegation.
Delegates told to be the change agents, to use their voices on behalf of girls
In an orientation session on Sunday to prepare delegates to be effective advocates at the UN Commission on the Status of Women, Michelle Bachelet, director of UN Women said that it is a very encouraging time for women’s rights and equality, but she added that it also is a frustrating time.
Bachelet, the former president of Chile, addressed more than 250 teens, young adults and adult chaperones, including 17 students, sisters and adults with the delegation from the School Sisters of Notre Dame.
The orientation, sponsored by the Working Group on Girls, provided delegates the opportunity to learn the history, background and purpose of the United Nations and to understand better the scope of the violence directed at women and girls. In addition to Bachelet, Michael Kaufman, founder of the White Ribbon Campaign addressed the group.
Bachelet noted the advances in gender equality demonstrated by the number of countries where women can vote and by the number of women presidents. But she also decried the violence against women that continues to demand attention, including the 14-year-old student in Pakistan who was shot on her school bus for speaking out for the education of girls and the rape and murder of a woman in India who was attacked while riding a bus.
The violence against women and girls is unacceptable, Bachelet said. It is unacceptable that 60 million girls worldwide are child brides, married before age 18, and it is unacceptable that one out of three women in the world will be a victim of sexual violence in her lifetime.
“People like us are a force for change,” Bachelet said. “You ask questions. You don’t accept the status quo that violence and inequality are a part of life.
“Now is the time to dig deeper and look at how we will overcome discrimination and violence against women and girls.”
In his presentation, Kaufman explained how the White Ribbon Campaign is the world’s largest movement of men and boys to end violence against women. The White Ribbon Campaign is a pledge not to commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women; is a call on governments to adopt and enforce laws on all forms of violence against women; and is a catalyst for soul searching and discussion.
“Women have stood alone too long,” Kaufman said. “Women have been speaking out against violence for decades. We have women have had to stand alone too long working to end violence against women. More and more men are now stepping forward and saying ‘you should not do it alone.’"