At the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW), there is much discussion about the issues impacting women around the world. Depending on where you are from, the issues vary in their level of impact and importance.
For example, access to affordable childcare might rank high on the list for the American mom, but for mothers in Sweden, the economics of the socialist government depend on new mothers quickly re-entering the workforce, so the social mechanisms to deliver care are solidly in place.
Sounds great, right? Well, not exactly. During my time at the UNCSW, I have engaged in discussion with moms from Sweden who are deliberate and are conflicted about this very issue. My Swedish mom friends are very aware of the studies which show that the ages of zero – to – three are critical for young children and many Swedish mothers are choosing to stay at home with their kids for these first three crucial years of development. These same social protections that afford women access to quality childcare also frown upon mothers who drop out of the national economy to stay at home with their children.
Access to an education is an issue for many women in under developed countries and is often met with unequal treatment under the law. In America, you could successfully argue that those rights are engrained in the American constitution and innate for all American women. While you can argue about the quality of a public education, it would be difficult to say that American women and girls are forbidden to go to school in the United States. There is one issue however, that is discussed at length during the CSW which seems to be a topic without borders or boundaries – and that is Human Trafficking. Panels are conducted annually at the CSW on who is impacted by this scourge, how to help the survivors, how to negate the traffickers. This year, with the theme of the CSW being about Gender Equality and Social Protection Mechanisms – trafficking was not at the forefront, but it was there, in discussions and being talked about and what panels were addressing the issue were standing room only.
I am still haunted by a conversation we had with a Central American woman prior to a panel on women in the media. I am not sure she was there for the information or if she was there hoping to speak to members of the media about the horrible kidnappings taking place in Central and South America and along the northern border of Mexico. She handed us a card and spoke of how women with children, both boys and girls, are afraid to leave the house for fear their children will be taken from their arms and used as pawns at the US border by the smugglers, traffickers and cartels. She told of how women live with this fear and that so many children have been kidnapped for these purposes…and that this is really happening.
I remain haunted by her emotional plea and passionate voice. So, if you find yourself complaining about the children who have been separated from their families at our southern border…you might want to take another look.