Modeling Inclusiveness

At the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women. From left: Notre Dame Prep teacher Gail Caltride and students Maddie Tewey and Elena Benassi; Notre Dame High School students Maggie Meystrik and Joey Wagner and Admissions Director Katie Mallette; and Sisters Eileen Reilly and Kathy Schmittgens.

March 18, 2017

Diplomacy in action

Maggie Meystrik. a Notre Dame High School student with the SSND delegation, had a front row seat, so-to-speak, to diplomacy in action and the importance of diversity when discussing women’s issues.

During a session on the Gender Gap in Entertainment, one of the women in the audience stood up, introduced herself as a Lakota and asked why no Native Americans were represented on the panel or included in the discussion.

“Where are the Indians here?” asked Joanne Spotted Bear, a Native American activist. “Where are the Indians in your movies? Where are the Native Americans?

“I don’t want to fight with anyone. All I want is clean water. I came from Standing Rock.”

She had posed similar questions during a different CSW session a day earlier. But on this day, the moderator, invited her to share her concerns and then opened the conversation to include her.

“What can we do to support you and support clean water and Standing Rock?” asked Moderator Chase Masterson. The conversation immediately shifted, and the panelists and audience expanded their focus for the session as they acknowledged that they need to do better to seek out diverse voices so that no one is missing from important discussions.

From left: Academy of the Holy Angels students Arianne Rowe and Jaya Sharma and teacher Jennifer Cucchisi.

Sensitive to including all voices

Maggie said that she came away from that experience convinced of the importance of finding ways to be inclusive and make sure all people are represented when talking about any issues that might affect them.

“It was really an eye-opening thing,” Maggie said. “Although it wasn’t the original focus of the panel, the panel members were wonderful about turning it into something that could benefit everyone in the room.”

A moral obligation to contribute

After attending a different session on Adding Girls to the Global Agenda, Jaya Sharma, a student from the Academy of the Holy Angels, said that she came away with a new understanding of what gender equality means and how important it is to bring men and boys to the conversation.

“Now I feel like I have a moral obligation to contribute something to this cause,” Jaya said. “As a young woman, I feel like I have a responsibility to help other women and to encourage women my own age to dedicate some time to the goal of women’s empowerment.”

While at a session on Incorporating Girls into the Global Cause, Kattie Mallette, admissions director at Notre Dame High School, said that she was impressed to see so many girls and young women representing their countries and taking a stand on issues, especially because her role is to help girls “become confident, compassionate, Christians leaders” in this world.