Line stories: experiencing UN bureaucracy in real time

Monday,
day 1, was day one of the Commission of the Status of Women meeting
that is taking place in New York. I remember reading a blog post from
my colleague Katerina Fialova, written a couple of years ago, talking
about women from all over the world queuing in the UN headquarters
building, and how it would be interesting to do a gender analysis of
the line. I didn't imagine that I would have the opportunity to do so
while lining up for eight hours the first days of the conference.
Yes, you read well: eight hours.



I tried to
be optimist and take advantage of this opportunity to talk to the
women that were near me in the line. There was a lot of solidarity,
all of us were ready to keep one another's places for grabbing coffee
or a sandwich or going to the bathroom. I met a couple of women from
the US, who were ministers from the Scientific Church, and they told
me about their religion and their experiences as priests (apparently
they don't have to fight for a place as women, since it's quite
open). As I was talking to them another woman from the US approached
us. She was a catholic priest and invited us to sign a petition to
urge Catholic Church priests to ordain women.



In my line
there were some people from Latin America. I started talking to a
woman from Puerto Rico, member of a network of African descendents.
When I told her that I was from APC she said that their email address
was from one of our members, Institute for Global Communications.
Then I told her about the work that we're doing with gender and ICT,
and she told me about these media awards that they did in Puerto Rico
some years ago, “The golden pig awards”. They were given to
sexist media and they got a lot of attention. Some young women from
her organisation (Feministas en Marcha), she told me, wanted to do
this again, and new media and ICTs could be incorporated.



I
also talked to a woman from Hounduras that was doing voluntary work
for a local organisation called COFEMUN (
www.cofemun.org).
She was a journalist and told me about training they did on health
and reproductive health issues and how they dealt with violence in
the context last year's coup. I also talked to someone from India,
working for ActionAid. She told me the work that they were doing with
HIV-AIDS issues in Africa, from a policy perspective (how development
programmes are not taking into account women needs , especially the
way they are experiencing VAW, when designing aid programmes). I
also talked to them about the work we're doing (how we're training
women in FTXs, how we're tackling VAW online, how we're looking at
sexuality issues and ICTs) and they showed lots of interest and said:
“I don't know why we're not doing this”.



While all
of us, hundreds of women, were lining I followed what was going on on
the main panel by Twitter. It turns out that of five main speakers,
four of them were men. “We can review the status of women at the UN
right here, right now”, wrote my colleague Lalaine Viado.



At 5
o'clock some of my co-liners were about to cry. I had quite a bad
experience with some women from Brazil. They were obsessed with their
place in the line and women moving in and out of it. One told me:
“That's what we women are doing so bad...we are our own worst
enemy”. Another one of them touched my black wool sweater and told
me: “some cultures are just not respectful”. I didn't get it 'til
she told me that she was talking about black people. I just was too tired to say anything. I turned my back and stopped talking to them.

Even if
I was exhausted after this whole day of just queuing, it was a good
opportunity to see where we are standing (we have a lot of work to do
with respect to positioning ICTs in this conference) and to learn a
lot about the heterogeneous human beings that are clustered as NGOs.

Responses to this post

"...Throughout the day, wherever and whenever one met women queuing, exhausted, harassed, and often livid with frustration – women who had spent vast sums of money from scarce resources just to get here – the anger, nay hot fury, was evident..." <br />Disillusionment, Anger and Protest: http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/margaret-owen/disillusionment-anger-an...
Posted on 03/08/2010 - 14:00 | Reply

Añadir nuevo comentario