Greeting from Southern California, I cannot believe we are entering July and uncovering the veil of a new normal after fifteen months. It was a period of many challenges including but not limited to the concerns for the health of family and friends, those who lost their jobs during the hard-hit months of 2020-21, unpredictability, and an overload of virtual meetings in “Zoom land.” It was an intense physical and emotional period of our lives. Now, we seek to re-energize ourselves as we push forward, leaving the last fifteen months in the rearview mirror!
As the new president of WIN, elected in January 2021, I would like to share my thoughts, hopes, inspiration, and a bit of my history with WIN. First and foremost, I am honored and excited to work with the current board of WIN. The harmony, commitment, and synergy of the board makes me believe that together we will make change possible, connect women and girls across cultures and assure that all women and girl’s voices are heard in public forums for full participation in their governments, societies, and economies.
My history with WIN commenced when I attended the Beijing Women Conference, much awaited for a decade as I missed the third International Women Conference in Nairobi due to illness of a loved one. On our long flight from San Francisco to Shanghai, China, along with more than seventy other women and girls from the Bay Area of California, I met Marilyn Fowler, the founder of WIN. After the Beijing Women Conference, Marylin and I stayed in touch. As an active member of WIN, located in southern California, I was an advocate for “Bringing Beijing Home.” Through this initiative, I shared the lessons learned and my experiences not only at various campuses of California State University but also with ESL classes in downtown LA. Along with community activism, I taught in the Women Studies Programs of CSU, two of my beloved courses, “Global Women’s Movement” and “Women in Cross-Cultural Perspectives.” With my students, in these courses, we examined, reflected upon, and unpacked UN Women’s Conferences, “The Beijing Platform for Action,” and “Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies.”
As Chair and President of the Commission on the Status of Women at California State University Long Beach, and WIN board member, I presented at the majority of the CSW NGO forums since 1995 along with other regional conferences including the first (1998) post-Beijing Latin America conference in Cuba. Being an active part of WIN during conversations about : 1)establishing “Circles”, the “ Cities for CEDAW ” national campaign; 2) hosting Uganda delegation, being part of the WIN grassroots delegation to Afghanistan; 3) working closing with Afghan Women Network to select a delegation from Afghanistan women to visit California; and 4) having an all-day event, hosting the delegation from Afghanistan by (RIP) President Gordon of California State University Fullerton. These are but a few of many other memories weaved into my life during the last 26 years, which makes WIN an important part of my life and identity.
As a women’s human rights advocate, CEDAW, The Bill of Rights of Women and Girls was important to me even before my path crossed WIN. I learned about CEDAW in 1984 as a result of an introduction to (RIP) Billi Heller, the founding member and chair of the national committee on the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. So, clearly, when the Cities for CEDAW campaign was coined by the collaboration of the SF Commission on the Status of Women and WIN in 2013 at one of the informal gatherings of CSW, it was dear and near to my heart.
So here we are, in June of 2021, I am honored to serve an organization that I have been serving in different capacities in the last 26 years, I am committed to do what is needed to unmask the talents, commitments to gender equality, justice, and the creativity of the global network of WIN to make a meaningful, positive, impactful difference for women and girls.
Now is the time that with collaboration and coalition-building we join efforts to ratify CEDAW locally and at the national level and ensure that the rights and dignity of every woman and girl are honored and protected. As the past chair of Global Circles of WIN, the goal of reinvigorating the circles of WIN and forming new circles is still at the heart of WIN.
My goal with the post-pandemic of WIN is to continue to offer quality and diverse programming that helps the interest and needs of our members and WIN community. The quarterly newsletter will keep the community of WIN informed of the latest events and updates about our community organizing and CEDAW efforts at local, national, and global levels. As a mediator, I also value collaboration and coalition building amongst civil society entities that are striving to accomplish gender equality and justice, locally and globally.