Through a series of connections and synchronicities, I found myself standing in line yesterday to get my delegate badge at the United Nations, for the 54th Commission on the Status of Women session that runs the first two weeks in March. The U.N. CSW convenes every year, drawing women from all over the world together for conversations on a wide variety of global topics affecting women and girls.
As I stood in line with many of other women awaiting our delegate badges, I spoke with women from Botswana, India, and Guatemala, from New Hampshire and Queens. In a circle/workshop yesterday afternoon on Women and Conscious Leadership, women from North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa came together to sit in circle, share stories, honor each other's voices and experiences.
We heard from Donna Hadjipopov about her adventures, courage, and challenges in creating a socially conscious enterprise to bring Bulgarian pottery and textiles to the U.S. market, and watched the first public premier of a new documentary, The Heart to Lead: Women as Allies for the Greater Good, from Imagine the Good films.
All of us were deeply touched when a pediatrician from Lebanon spoke of how painful it was to her that 'the Islam of the people' has been misrepresented due to the actions of a few, and how her experience thus far at the CSW made her realize that Western women have been misrepresented by the media and religious-political leaders as well. "We all have so much in common," she said. "We all want the same things for ourselves, our families, and our communities."
A young woman from South Africa thanked the older generation of women for leading the way, and providing her with the inspiration and strength she needed as she did her work to bring about greater equality and consciousness in her country.
Another woman from Pakistan spoke of her work creating schools for girls in the tribal villages, and how vital it was for her to gain strength and inspiration from other women.
A woman from a grant-giving organization shared that, when you give money to women, they create enterprises that enrich the community - bakeries, schools, healthcare facilities, spiritual-development activities, craft-export enterprises, and so on.
Throughout the two weeks of CSW events this month, women are talking about the effects on women and communities of global climate change, trafficking in women and girls, conscious leadership, spiritual leadership, economics, and many other topics. Women are gathering, creating new connections, talking about the issues, expanding awareness, sharing approaches, ideas, and progress, and gaining renewed inspiration and strength.
And this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg of the work women are doing around the world, of the ways women are gathering.
In a pre-CSW circle-gathering last Friday, sponsored by Ways Women Lead, Anglican Women's Empowerment, and Millionth Circle, Jean Shinoda Bolen spoke about the power of gathering in circle, of women gathering with women, to foster and bring into the world a new, more balanced consciousness.
So far at the CSW, this is exactly what's happening. We're all threads in a new tapestry that's weaving itself; gatherings like the CSW help us to see the tapestry, when so often we feel like isolated threads. More updates coming soon!
* Photo: Taken in a Turkish bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey