Tuesday, February 28, 2012

NGO/CSW Forum Began
CSW 56- Sunday NYC
(Ou sont les femmes Africaines francophones?)
As a first time participant I was forever marked by the
representation of women of the entire globe. My strongest reflection of the day
was the idea of being a voice for the voiceless. In the opening keynote,
Michelle Bachelet, UN Women Executive Director (former president of Chili),
invited all of us to give our support. She reminded us that the issues are
addressed in local advisory groups, regionally, countrywide and globally. The
civil society addresses issues that are then shadowed in the UN.
Through our program at Lehigh, Dr. Alex Wiseman, has often
encouraged us to not only look at what is present but also, and maybe more
importantly, what is absent. After working myself in French Speaking West
Africa for more than 20 years, I found myself looking for the French- speaking
African participants. With strong delegations from the English-speaking African
countries I began to wonder why the countries like Burkina Faso, Mali, Cote d’Ivoire,
Guinea, Niger, Benin, Togo and Senegal were not more visible.
With translation available in French, I believe all would
have felt welcomed.
The issues addressed: illiteracy, violence against women and
children, sustainable agriculture, assess to landowning by women and so many
other human rights are all concerns shared by the sisters of the French-speaking
African community. They deserve a place at our table.
Their voice also needs to be heard.

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