Thursday, April 17, 2014

Learning, Sharing and Building Friendships - Experience of a New UN Rep at CSW

Angelina (far right) and fellow Soroptimists
 at the CSW advocacy training.
Angelina Akhvlediani joined the team of Soroptimist International UN Representatives in New York in November 2013. A psychotherapist by profession, she sits on the NGO Committee on Mental Health.  In March, she attended the 58th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women. CSW is SI's biggest advocacy event of the year, and over 50 Soroptimists gathered in New York to lobby, share the lessons of our project work around the world and learn. In this week's SoroptiVoice blog, Angelina writes about her first day at CSW and meeting her fellow Soroptimists from around the world. 

In November I became UN Rep designate. During my lucky two years since I got to know [retiring UN Rep] Yoko Olson, she was always telling me about the importance of the Commission on the Status of Women. I read as much as I could about CSW, its past and current issues and outcomes. Lois Beilin as my mentor extensively started to prepare me for the upcoming CSW58. 

So, on March 9th I left home at 7am with the plan that I would be back by midnight. As a young mother (or more accurate - as a mother of young kids) I was fine, because my husband promised to be "mother and father" all day long.

Waiting in the line at the entrance I started to make new friendships. The first person I spoke with appeared to be a Soroptimist (Hello Vivian)!!! And of course, the first familiar face I saw was [UN Rep and NGO CSW NY Committee Member] Bette Levy!  In the ballroom I had pleasant meeting with President Ann Garvie and International Programme Director Hilary Ratcliffe. The opening session was very interesting. As always, it was exciting to listen to Ambassador Garcia (my favorite ambassador from my limited UN experience).

UN Reps and other Soroptimists at the
CSW delegation reception.
In the afternoon I joined the Soroptimist International advocacy training for delegates. I loved it! It was informative, interesting, and fun. Reilly Dempsey asked us to make small groups, so my sweet group was "Babae" (as Gigie baptized it). Babae truly captured Soroptimist's geographical covering: it included territory from Romania (I miss you, Elena!) to Michigan, from UK to Philippines. It was so great to see and work with Soroptimists from so many places, to share ideas and to learn more!
The third part of the day was the SI reception. [Retiring UN Rep] Lois Beilin organized everything for a good party. She assigned me to be a "financial watchdog"- I was collecting the money for the party. Mostly, all the Soroptimists knew each other and were more than happy to get together again. For me it was a great chance to meet them. And I am so pleased to work with all of them in the future.  

Reposted from SoroptiVoiceBLOG

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