After many years of serving as your sole representative to UNICEF, I am passing the torch to Eleanor Schlesinger. who did such an excellent job of filling in for me during my lengthy surgery absence. (I shall spare you the details of the knee replacement and consequent cardiac issues!) However, I am not finished yet! Those of you who have heard me speak know that I have thoroughly enjoyed my UNICEF responsibility and I look forward to my new position as your Alternate Representative to UNICEF.
During 2007 and 2008, both before and after my health problems, I continued my activities with the Working Group on Girls (WGG), a group about which you have heard me speak so often. (For those who are new PPSEAWA members, the WGG — to which Eleanor and I belong — is a group of Non- Governmental Organizations (NGOs) that operate under the umbrella of the NGO Committee on UNICEF. The purpose of this group is to further the lives of young girls from all around the world, particularly those in the adolescent ages.) Several highlights of my WGG activities:
- The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). — held at the UN from 25 February – 7 March 2008 — focused on: “Financing for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.” WGG members participated enthusiastically in the preparation of materials and the discussion of these issues and I attended a number of presentations given during this two-week Conference.
- At the present time, I am a member of a newly-established WGG Subcommittee — a group chaired by our Catherine Moore — formed to air and publicize a 90-minute Public Broadcasting Service (PBS/NOW) video entitled: “Child Brides: Stolen Lives.” This video is a heart-wrenching account of the lives of several young girls who have been forced into marriage at a very early age – a story that must be given the widest possible publicity as a first step in attempting to deal with this worldwide tragic situation. Accordingly, WGG members have been asked to explore with our respective NGO ways of spreading the word about the video’s existence, content and immediate availability for showing. Unfortunately, our recent efforts to have the video shown at the PPSEAWA International Conference in Hawaii were not successful. In an effort to make the world aware of the early marriage situation and to advocate for change, the WGG Subcommittee is planning a major event that involves the showing of the film at the UN auditorium – open to the public – followed by a panel discussion of the problem. Tentatively, December is our target date for this event.
As I look back over my years as your UNICEF representative, the highlight of my efforts was my involvement in the UNICEF project to bring young girls from around the world to attend the 51st Annual Meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women held in New York from February- March 2007. (The theme of this Conference was: “The Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination and Violence Against Women.”) As most of you know, in response to UNICEF’s request, PPSEAWA, working with Thai Women Watch, sponsored a young girl from Thailand – Alisha — who came to New York to attend a week of these meetings. I am in contact with Alisha who is in medical school now and is continuing her efforts to “make a difference” in the lives of young girls who live in her country.
I have been honored to be your representative to UNICEF and have found that the Working Group on Girls’ efforts to improve the lives of young girls worldwide are challenging and rewarding. . I wish each of you the very best for the new PPSEAWA season and look forward to continuing to work with you in my new position as your Alternate Representative.