Monday, March 31, 2008

United Nation and One million signature

Campaign” One million signature” in United Nation:
By: Soraya Fallah
Women rights activist and researcher

The following report is briefly about my experience in UN during the commission on Status of Women in New York.

I have so many experiences regarding campaign for one million signature, change for equality in Iran. Experiences about the people I gathered signatures from. I got so many different reactions while I was appealing for freedom of Kurdish campaign activist, Ronak, Hana,and … but my experience in United Nation was totally different. In my pervious experiences I was facing people who didn’t know and did not heard of the campaign. Some did not even believe in equality; Man is man, Woman is woman, they said.
This time I had the least problem with individuals, they were all activists and scholars from different part of the world. Even in a few cases they had signed the petition on-line. And in one case I met a member of the campaign against stoning. but this time was different.

The 52nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women has been held at the United Nations headquarters in New York from the 25th of February to March 7th 2008. The big day for NGOs was on Feb. 24.
The session was attended by the representatives of Member States of the United Nations and representatives of United Nations entities and of ECOSOC, accredited non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from all regions of the world. This year Priority theme was financing for gender equality and empowerment of women with the expert group Meeting on "Financing for gender equality and the empowerment of women”
This year representative of 67countries, 7 regional groups and more than 5600 individuals from NGOs represent at the commission.
This time I had the least problem with individuals, they were all activists and scholars from different part of the world. Even in a few cases they had signed the petition on-line. And in one case I met a member of the campaign against stoning. but this time was different.

During the sessions I have had a chance to talk to the representatives of Member States, United Nations and non-governmental organizations; most of the time with Panelists that had significant experience in capacity-building for gender mainstreaming.
I planed to find the Kurdish and Iranian groups that I might not be aware of their participation. I took 150 copies of the petition (for first day) and information about the campaign in case somebody wanted to know more about it.
Sunday, the day before the commission, was the big day for all NGOs. Hundreds of women got together, and after an orientation and some important talk we got in 10 groups to decide about our requests to UN and to the States.
In my group I got a chance to talk to all attendees in the hall and in the result I could participate in one out of the ten committees for suggestions and resolutions. I distributed my copies to aware every one of the Kurdish Women’s issues and campaign and I received so many good responses.
Luckily on the 25th I met 2 other Iranian women rights activists out of UN in the Charge Center, the place that some of the parallel events of NGOs were holding their sessions. Each of us had our own way to promote and find an opportunity to talk about the campaign. The ideas were all great. We came out with an outcome that we should attend and ask for solidarity and signing the petition we have in each event and session. Sometimes it was hard to catch people to sign. They needed an explanation and more time, but the lines to get the entrance card was the best. They were waiting anyways.
Some of them were accepting to take the petition for work and school to introduce it to others and send the sheets back. My friend, Kay from Utah
Day after I could speak with Dr.Vivian B. Pender, the chair of NGO committee on the Status of Women, and I insisted to give me an opportunity to talk about the campaign for one million signature and Kurdish women issues. After a few times of meeting with her and her colleagues she introduced me to one out of six Caucuses that deal with West Asia which Iran and Kurdistan should be included. She said this is the official procedure.
On Wednesday I attended the West Asia (included Middle East) Caucus. Representatives from Egypt, Syria, Turkey, Jordan, and some other countries were there. I asked to talk:
I would like to catch every body’s attention to 3 issues that you never mentioned in your resolution. I need time and I hope you all paying attention. This is a caucus for the West Asia including Middle East, which Kurdish women and Iranian women should be included in. I talk on their behalf, because my sisters from Iran could not attend the commission, non of the NGOs from Iran, could get a permission to attend, and based on my knowledge no representative from the State. .
First of all, Iranian women’s situation due to oppression is getting worse on a daily basis. For years they are trying to claim their basic rights, not to be counted as half a man. I am here to represent an Iranian women campaign for One million signatures, a campaign for change for equality which I believe that the is a historic movement, and it is most effective, democratic women movement in the Middle East. I need you to indicate it in your resolution. I provide you all with a package about the campaign, March 8th and ask for your solidarity and signing this petition on behalf of your NGO and as an individual.
Second, 20million Kurdish women in the Middle East are subjected to multiple discrimination and has been forgotten for any project and are not privileged of any financial progress. They are not only discriminated due to being a women, but being discriminated for being Kurd. I ask you to indicate these two issues and their need in the resolution
The interpreter had translated it from English to Arabic and the chair of the caucus indicated in the resolution. With a vote of 100% of the representatives, it has been approved for the resolution! Everybody signed the campaign’s petition.
During the sessions, meeting, and gatherings I found some of the participants who were interested in helping to gather signature and talk about the campaign. They took the sinning sheets and the info of the website. My friend KAY SWAN from Utah has been volunteer to help and talk about it with others when she goes back to her home city.
On Thursday morning in a big gathering, called the Breathing session, I had a chance to talk as a Kurdish caucus representative, I mentioned one million signature and urgency of change and the need of being recognized
I visited my campaign colleague a few more times to discus about the process, the signatures and some pictures for the campaign website. We made everyday 100 copies and packages and I delivered the inside UN with the different methods of distribution and talk about it.
On Friday 29th, Amnesty International had a special chair for the campaign with lots of information. This year the commission was different than ever…

Soraya Fallah is a Human and women Rights activist. She works with several humanitarian organizations.
She is Chair of Kurdish Women Rights Committee in North America. She is actively promotes “The Campaign one million signature and being in contact with campaign’s activists inside Iran and Kurdistan.
She studied International Relations and law as major and psychology as minor.
She published a few books in different political and legal matters and many other articles in women and Kurdish issues book on Women right and roll of United Nation. She serves International pen, Kurdish sector, northern America as a chairwoman.
She was a researcher in “The Institute for political and International studies “(IPIS)in Tehran and worked as a legal adviser and active member of Amnesty International, Red Cross and Underground Danish organization for refugee in Denmark. She chaired a few conferences and in 2007 she chaired an International Conference on Kurdish women for peace and Equality held in Kurdish of Iraq.
Soraya is a board member of Society for human rights in Iran and Kurdish/American Committee for Democracy in Iran.