22 Mar 2018

Butterfly Wings - UNCSW62 blog 13

            New York had a snow day - a state of emergency was called due to snow (NYC does not have the history or resources of coping with the forecasted 15" of snow). As a result of this, a number of activities shifted. Some shifted location, others have been shifted to future days. Fortunately, our delegation as not impacted by the nearly 4,000 flights cancelled by the weather (and who knows how many delays!)
            The first shift was simply location: The Anglican Communion delegates gathered to present country reports: each of us, prior to coming to CSW, had prepared a document identifying data of our home country - a one-page brief with some basic introductory and statistical information, key concerns, government response, and the Anglican provincial response.
            The second shift was on agenda. As events were being cancelled, my afternoon plans moved. This ended up being a good thing for me, as it afforded the opportunity to catch up on some paperwork. There was a team starting to draft our delegation statement to the Anglican Consultative Council, there was another collaboration writing the overview or executive summary of the Anglican presence here at UNCSW62.
            Part of the fun of working in these teams was the light-hearted commentary about word choices. The documents are important parts of the recorded history of these two weeks, and so they need to be representative and carefully written. English is not the first language of everyone who is here, so we need to ensure that the intention is carefully articulated. Words matter.
            One of the conversations about words had little to do with the issues of CSW; we deviated briefly from the differences and intricacies between gender equality vs. gender equity; of human trafficking vs. modern slavery; or rural woman and girls vs. women and girls who live in rural areas.
            Instead, we talked about the snow. At that point, there were large flakes dancing through the sky. One non-Anglophone thought that snow flakes of various sizes should have different names: she suggested that those large flakes be "butterfly wings" or something equally delicate and delightful.
            What a beautiful reminder that beauty is everywhere: the snowflakes were the cause of the day's delays and changes, but they were beautiful. They were to be appreciated, admired, and enjoyed. So the words we use to describe them should reflect that.

            As such, reflecting on how meaningful and empowering and divine the time at CSW has been, we are considering now what words we will use to share the experience once we return home. There are challenges, to be sure; there will be struggles as we continue to strive for gender justice. But we can describe the unity and collaboration as a beautiful thing; with positivity and encouragement and sacred intentions.  Imagine if everything we saw, as an act of justice, was as beautiful as butterfly wings - and it will be.

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