THE JOURNALISTS and WRITERS FOUNDATION Co-organized 6 Parallel Events with 8 Civil Society Organizations
On the occasion of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) 63rd Session, the Journalists and Writers Foundation has co-organized 6 Parallel Events in partnership with 8 civil society organizations. The topics varied from women in peace and security, CSO contributions to the integration of refugee women, the role of education, women as survivors of conflict, women faith leaders and many more. As a part of its mandate to promote the sustainable development and human rights, JWF creates platforms during the CSW weeks to share the best-practices of CSOs on the women and girls’ empowerment, initiate further partnerships, and raise awareness on the current agenda of the UN Women.
This year, the JWF CSW63 delegation had attendees from New York, New Jersey, Washington DC, Atlanta, California, Texas, India and Greece. On the CSW Annual Reception, the organizers and panelists gathered together to share their best practices and discussed their priorities on the women empowerment agenda.
The events started on March 13, Wednesday with the “Role of Education in Challenging Cultural Barriers for Women`s Empowerment” panel discussion where the panelists discussed the most widespread cultural challenges girls and women face all around the world. The panel was organized in partnership with the Set Them Free Atlanta Youth Group. Professor Monserrat Washburn was the moderator of this session. The panel started with the remarks of Monica Bajraktarevic, the Dean of Students at the Pioneer Academy. Ms. Bajraktarevic discussed the impact of cultural obstacles on women`s empowerment. By sharing her various professional experiences, she talked about how access to good quality education empowers young girls and change their lives. Sueda Polat, Freshman at the Emory University, discussed the justice system in Turkey and by providing some statistics, she overviewed several case studies of sexual assaults from Turkey. Lastly, Sibel Olcal, Sophomore at the Forsyth Central High School, and Gulsima Duranel, Freshman at the Fulton Science Academy School, talked about how child marriages hinder girls` empowerment.
JWF`s Parallel Event on the “Women`s Meaningful Participation in Peace & Security” took place on March 14, Thursday. The experts discussed the major trends and global challenges of women`s participation in peace and security, which are all identified by the recent report of the UN Women Expert Group Meeting. The first speaker, Cecile van Manen, Associate Political Affairs Officer at the UN Department of Political Affairs, talked about the persistent gender inequality in the peace and security arena. Following Ms. Van Manen`s remarks, Jamille Bigio, the Senior Fellow for Women and Foreign Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations, highlighted women`s inclusion in formal and informal peace processes. Ms. Bigio has also presented several figures and data from the Women`s Contributions to Security Project. Verlaine-Diane Soobroydoo, the Advior on Women, Peace and Security at the African Union Observer Mission, discussed the shrinking political space for women leadership. Ms. Soobroydoo has also introduced the African Women Leaders Network initiative to the audience. Lastly, Dr. Swadesh Rana, the Former Chief of Conventional Arms Branch from the UN Department of Disarmament Affairs, had an interactive session with the audience talking about the gender parity in the peace and security arena, and discussed how, in our modern day, the peace is re-defined.
March 15, Friday set off with the Set Them Free panel discussion on the “Civil Society Contributions to the Integration of Refugee Women”. Esra Aydin, the Communications Director of the JWF and NY Representative of the Set Them Free, gave an overview of the Turkish refugee women in Turkey and talked about Set Them Free`s best practice of “Sisters Without Borders: ESL & German Online Language Classes”. Following Ms. Aydin, Yalda Afif, the Employment Specialist of HIAS New York discussed the CSO contributions to the socio-economic empowerment of refugee women. Youstina Youssef, the Gardner Public Service Fellow of the International Refugee Assistant Project discussed the legal perspective of the refugee women`s journey and how legal assistance can create major differences in refugee women`s empowerment. Lastly, Attorney Ann Graham contributed to the law perspective with her years of experience and shared several CSO best practices that she contributed in Texas.Ann Graham, Youstina Youssef, Esra Aydin, Yalda Afif
Following this discussion, the “Women as Survivors of Conflict” panel took place in partnership with the Advocates of Silenced Turkey. Moderator Heidi Hoover from the Beth Shalom v`Emeth Reform Temple, set the platform to discuss the challenges that refugee women face in their resettlements. The author Patricia Holt from Atlanta, shared several important figures and facts on the experiences of refugee women. Following her remarks, The Atlanta Leader of Interplay, Christine Nichols Gautreaux, talked about the best practices to support survivors of conflict. She also engaged with the audience and invited everyone to practice several skills that will enable women to handle challenges in a more convenient way. Zeynep Begum Girdap, a Sophomore Student at the Denmark High School, presented a specific evaluation on the persecuted women in Turkey. Ms. Girdap talked about the social difficulties that surviving women in Turkey face in terms of finding new jobs and empowering themselves. The last speaker of this session, Bahriye Agu, a Junior Student in Milton High School, mentioned about the problems that Turkish Refugee women face while escaping the witch-hunt in Turkey.
The next discussion, “Empowering Women of Faith Leadership in Society” was organized in partnership with the North Islamic Community Center on March 15, Friday. The faith leaders from different religious backgrounds have discussed the role of women leaders in creating peaceful and cohesive societies for all. Dr. Seyma Aslan, the President of the NEICC welcomed the audience and introduced the first ever elected woman Mayor of Montgomery, Dr. Sadaf Jaffer, who shared her distinguished experience setting the platform for further discussion. Ms. Uzma Naheed, the Founder Director of the Iqra Education Foundation, a well-known woman empowerment advocated in India, shared her remarks on the role of women in maintaining peace in society. Dr. Atiya Aftab, an Adjunct Professor at the Rutgers University and the Co-founder of the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom, talked about her own experiences of being a leader and role of women faith leaders. Annette Rotter, a Clinical Psychologist and a Board Member at the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom, presented SOSS` best practices of empowering women faith leadership in communities. Lastly, Carole Wilkins, Chaplain Fellow at the Veteran Administration New York Harbor Healthcare System talked about her own expertise on how the empowerment of women faith leaders changes the communities.
The last event of the CSW63, “The Role of Informal Education in Women`s Empowerment”, was organized in partnership with Pacifica Institute, and UNA USA Silicon Valley. Youth community leaders talked about self-defense education in minority communities, online language support for refugees, conversation partnerships, and mental health support training for women.