Joining Ideals Stirs Discussion at Panel Discussion
The Tzu Chi Foundation was invited to participate in the 62nd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW62) (link: http://www.unwomen.org/en/csw), held from 12th to 23rd March 25, 2018, at the United Nations’ headquarters in New York. As the only participating Buddhist organisation accredited by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Tzu Chi announced its initiatives and also participated in exchanges with delegates from various nations.
The Foundation was represented at the event by a 10-member delegate team, including the executive vice president of Tzu Chi USA, Debra Boudreaux, volunteer representatives from the Tzu Chi New York office, etc. The team hoped to seek consensus and common understanding with delegates from various nations on how to work together towards the United Nations’ goal of sustainable development.
With the theme, “Challenges and Opportunities in Achieving Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Rural Women and Girls”, the first part of the Session involved more than 4,000 delegates from over 150 countries taking part in various Side Events.
On 13th March, Tzu Chi held a panel discussion entitled, “The Role of Rural Women in Climate Change Resilience”. The meeting focused on “the challenges and opportunities presented in empowering rural women and girls to engage their communities in the fight against climate change, highlighting best practices and strategies at the intersections of climate change, food security, and gender equality”.
By sharing living examples of Tzu Chi’s humanitarian aid work in Africa, Asia, South America, etc., such as the building of schools and the providing of educational opportunities for needy children, the delegates tied their talks back to the main theme of the event.
In her talk, the executive vice president of Tzu Chi USA, Debra Boudreaux, emphasized that people from various walks of life not only must possess a common understanding and consensus, but more importantly, put their knowledge into practice.
Pertaining to the issue of environmental conservation, she said that Tzu Chi has continually maintained that the most effective way of reducing carbon footprint is to incorporate green practices into our daily living, so much so that even women in rural areas can adopt ways to curb carbon emissions.
Debra further shared how Tzu Chi volunteers led the locals in developing nations to serve others in need in their own communities and how the latter even responded to the volunteers’ call for vegetarianism and implemented recycling programmes locally. These were living examples of folks in rural communities who were empowered to improve their lives and living environments through localised efforts.
Through the use of many real life examples, Tzu Chi’s delegates linked their talks to the United Nation’s goal of sustainable development. The practical linkages between Tzu Chi’s philosophy and actions stirred up a flurry of discussion among the participants, including delegates from developing countries, representatives of organisations in developing nations, delegates from various faiths and climate change groups, etc.
Sustaining Long-Term Partnerships with Great Love
During the panel discussion, delegates from various nations also went onstage to share their thoughts and experiences as well as give their feedback on Tzu Chi’s work and initiatives.
A representative from the United Nations’ “Zero Hunger” goal highlighted in her talk that a “rural community” was not equivalent to “poverty”, and that although many women played the important role of being the family’s primary caregiver, their potential and capabilities were often overlooked or overshadowed. Another representative from the United Nations’ International Children’s Emergency Fund stressed that girls in rural communities, regardless of their economic status, must receive equal treatment and be given education and basic human rights.
At the end of the panel discussion, many delegates expressed their hopes for future partnership with Tzu Chi. The representatives from Tzu Chi also distributed little Chinese hanging ornaments bearing the word “love” in English and Chinese to the participants. This was symbolic of how the power of universal Great Love transcends all boundaries.
The Tzu Chi team also took part in the summit from 21st to 23rd March. They listened to reports from various delegates and participated in group meetings and discussions, with the hope that through reaching a common understanding and consensus, everyone could work together in Great Love, to better the world.
The statements made by Tzu Chi were included in the official report by the ECOSOC’s Commission on the Status of Women Committee. The Foundation has dedicated its past few decades to global initiatives, bearing witness to the United Nations’ goal of sustainable development. It hopes to further partner with various countries in the spirit of Great Love, striving towards the common goals of eradicating poverty, achieving equality between the sexes, and sustainable development.