Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Experiencing "Gender & Disarmament" Panel @ the UN

On September 23, 2006, the International WILPF UN Office co-sponsored a panel on "Gender & Disarmament" with the Global Network to End War. Below is feedback from Anastasia Shown, the Project Coordinator Intern at the WILPF US office.
This was my first visit to the United Nations. I was very excited just to see the building and witness the daily activities. I traveled from Philadelphia with Jody Dodd, Leadership and Membership Coordinator, Kate Zaidan, Program Coordinator and Jessica , Development intern. The WILPF UN office made us great badges and welcomed us when we arrived. Anita Pulier, WILPF US Representative to the UN, met up with us for lunch. I was overwhelmed with the food choices and ended up being so full; I needed coffee to stay awake the rest of the afternoon. Anita caught us up on what the voting would be about that day, disarmament issues, nuclear weapons threats, biological weapons use, etc. We attended the panel on Gender and Disarmament, hosted by WILPF UN and Global Network to End War. I was amazed at the clarity and organized structure of the meeting. All the presentations were presented in a timely manner and all questions were answered thoughtfully, yet to the point. The meeting didn’t go on too long and no one strayed from the topic. This must be how the United Nations functions?! I point this out only because it impressed me. I have been to countless meetings in the workplace environment and at the university where the talks stray from the main goal and everyone ends up losing focus. While the gender and weapons discussion is not new to me, I was able to gain information regarding new concerns in the discussion. We spent the rest of the afternoon watching the voting. I was amazed at how defiant the United States was about their votes, often voting NO when 98% voted YES. I wondered how that guy (the U.S. rep) hangs out with the others in the cafeteria. Do they talk to him? While the others voted the promise not to threaten use of their nuclear weapons, is it awkward that he represents a country that blatantly refused to make that promise? At lunch are they able to put it all behind them and chat about their kids or their annoying commute? I was there only one day and I felt like I had to talk about it to everyone I encountered. I called my Dad on the way home and told him about the votes, I talked about it in my classes at school and I vented to my friends. I was impressed with the organized structure of the United Nations, but at the end of the day I had a hard time reframing my attitude from the“But these are real human lives!” to the, “This is business as usual.”


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