Small group discussionsSmall group discussions

On March 17, SGI organized a parallel event on women’s leadership during the 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW59) held at the UN Headquarters in New York from March 9–20. CSW59 marked the 20th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing in 1995 where the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BPfA) was adopted.

The theme of the parallel event was “Living Women’s Leadership, Living Global Citizenship– Strengthening the Beijing Platform for Action.” The event was held at the Church Center for the United Nations and some 75 people attended.

Cosponsors of the event were the Bahá'í International Community, the Salvation Army, Soroptimist International, the Global Movement for the Culture of Peace, and the United Religions Initiative. Cofacilitators were Ivy Gabbert of the SGI UN Liaison Office and Mari Haraldsson, UN representative for the World YWCA.

Ambassador ChowdhuryAmbassador Chowdhury giving the keynote speech

In his keynote speech, Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury, former UN Under-Secretary-General and High Representative, stressed that to achieve gender equality it is necessary to dismantle patriarchy. He called for more women in decision-making positions, starting at the UN, and for a woman to be chosen as the next UN secretary-general. He stated that the world has a lot to learn from the leadership of African women who have faced the heaviest odds and are storehouses of energy, creativity and initiative.

Other speakers included Lopa Banerjee, chief of UN Women’s Civil Society Section; Jean Krasno, lecturer in the Department of Political Science at the City College of New York; and Selamawit Adugna Bekele from Ethiopia, global youth ambassador for A World at School.

The presentations were followed by small discussion groups where participants discussed women’s leadership and the culture of peace.

On March 9, as part of the SGI-USA Culture of Peace Distinguished Speaker Series, Ambassador Chowdhury gave a talk on “Equality of Women’s Participation: Essential Foundation for the Culture of Peace in Today’s World,” at the SGI-USA New York Culture Center.

[Adapted from a report from the SGI UN Liaison Office in New York; photos courtesy of the SGI UN Liaison Office in New York]

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