Sunday, December 20, 2020

Girls from the “Girls Global Summit,” encouraged by those who have attended the UN Commission on the Status of Women in NYC, Work Towards Virtual UNCSW Presentations for 2021

By Tatum Spriester 

Senior, International School of the Americas High School

The San Antonio Group has been further motivated as they have seen even more women leaders emerge in January 2021. 

In December 2020, ten boxes containing twelve women pop onto the screen. The virtual Zoom room of women of many different ages, cultures, and religions immediately begins buzzing with energy over the issue at hand: the prospect of the group attending the spring 2021 United Nations Commission on the Status of Women conference. Participants who now live study and teach in San Antonio have some from Azerbaijan, Mexico, Turkey, and the U.S, 

Planning is now underway by this group of local advocates for women’s rights, a kind of dream team of feminist activists and global scholars from around the city. This core group is putting together a proposal to virtually attend the United Nations (UN) conference, which happens annually in New York City but has been pushed into the virtual space by the ongoing pandemic. 

The conference also covers the goals of “women's full and effective participation and decision-making in public life, as well as the elimination of violence, achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.” Beyond just brainstorming topics to bring before the international meeting, the team has been discussing the importance of global friendship and knowledge-sharing through the pandemic. 

Dr. Sumeyra Tek of the Raindrop House has been organizing San Antonio delegations that have included women from the University of the Incarnate Word (Dr. Barbara Aranda-Naranjo,Dr. Jessica Kimmel, Sr. Martha Ann Kirk, Dr. Lopita Nath) and  Women’s Global Connection (Dr. Lisa Uribe), and other significant women to attend the United Nations conferences since 2017. The 2021 Conference will be her fourth time attending. Incarnate Word Sr. Martha Ann Kirk, an outspoken advocate for the rights of all people in the San Antonio community and beyond, has helped call together the planning group. Most all its members have had some sort of involvement with the Girls Global Summit that has happened annually in San Antonio. Hosted by Women’s Global Connection (WGC), a ministry of the Incarnate Word sisters, the youth summit was designed for youth by youth and attracted about 500 middle and high school students each year. Martha Ann and others are ensuring that the empowerment purpose of WGC continues.

Others in the planning group include leaders and students from the University of the Incarnate Word, as well as leaders and youth advocates in the Muslim Turkish-American Raindrop Foundation of San Antonio. For example, Yesenia Alcalá, a UIW graduate student, has continued this work via continued partnership with the Shipibo women of the Peruvian Amazon, whose website is linked here. The women produce fabric products, textiles and handicrafts and use the funds to uplift and support their community. 

Shipibo women living is Lima, Peru, who have been befriended by Sister Katty Huanuco, hosted a Women's Global Connection tour group of UIW students and others. 

Many of the women are a part of a global movement with members around the world called the Hizmet Movement and the Raindrop Foundation, a Muslim group focused on service,  humanitarianism, and social justice across the borders of faith. 

A San Antonio delegation presenting at the 2017 United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in 2016. 

The team has initial ideas to present on what makes a feminist youth summit successful based on WGC’s success with the Girls Global Summit and how to replicate this environment in other cities and settings. The ideals it upholds are centered on dialogue around wide themes of human rights, empowerment, gender equity, women’s health, the death penalty, and more. 

See some pictures of GGS in February, 2020, and read of women's leadership in the pandemic.

If you’re interested in being a part of this in some way or of learning through this process, please  fill out this form.

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