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    Opening Ceremony, CSW61

    By Susan Alexander, AWC Bern

    I had the privilege of attending the opening of the Commission on the Status of Women in the United Nations General Assembly Hall. The Chairman of the CSW, H.E. Mr. Antonio de Aguiar Patriota of Brazil, welcomed the members of the Commission and the NGOs in observance.

    I work for the Universal Postal Union, a specialized agency in the UN, and am familiar with the UN system. I have attended five international plenary conferences and numerous UPU council sessions in my 20 years employed there. But the CSW61 opening session was a completely different experience. Not just because I was attending as a delegate for FAWCO; and not because it was my first visit to the UN In New York.

    I am proud to be a part of the UPU, but I have had equal access to postal services all my life; I have also encountered gender discrimination all my life. The sense I got in the CSW61 session was that the people serving as delegates to CSW passionately strive for gender equality, for me and for all other women and girls in our world. It was truly overwhelming, and heartening.

    The UN Secretary General reiterated his continuing support for gender equality; the Executive Director of UN Women called for action by Commission member countries, not just deliberations, in order to move gender equality forward.

    The theme of CSW61 is "Women's Economic Empowerment in the Changing World of Work" and I don't have to explain to anyone reading this how insidious discrimination is in the workplace. It's in the individual salary agreements conducted with men versus with women; it's in the differing treatment of new fathers versus new mothers; it's in the very nature of the positions given to men versus those given to women.

    Sitting in the great, historic UN General Assembly hall, I felt excited to hear the upcoming events on Empowerment of women, and hopeful that the dedicated individuals around me were ready to make it a reality.

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