About the UN Program Maureen Burns-Bowie Director
WOMEN'S CAUCUS FOR ART HAS BEEN AN NGO (NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATION) OF THE UNITED NATIONS SINCE 1975
In the past, WCA's primary engagement with the UN was attending conferences. Under the leadership of Nancy Cusick and Cynthia Navaretta, members of WCA participated in United Nations International Women's Conferences, including the " 1980 "World Conference of the United Nations Decade for Women" in Copenhagen, (under the leadership of Susan Schwalb and local representation by Annelise Jarvis Hansen of KIK International) and in the 1985 "World Conference to Review and Appraise the Achievements of the UN Decade for Women" in Nairobi. In 1995 the "Fourth World Conference on Women" in Beijing was held. Nancy coordinated art events with the National Museum of Women in the Arts and Women's Caucus for Art, presenting "Global Focus.: Women in Art and Culture", (which travelled to other international museums and universities after the UN conference.) Under the presidency of Helen Klebesadel, and chairmanship of Jo Hockenhull, 100 WCA members participated in this historic event. Significant exihibitions were also launched by Muriel Magenta ("World's Women Online") and Carole Richard Kaufmann ("Beijing and Beyond".) Both the National Museum of Women in the Arts and Rutgers University house extensive archives of these events. After a hiatus, WCA has begun again to be more involved with UN activities, to engage with other NGO's, and to create art presentations and exhibitions that promote women's issues and support UN platforms. Priscilla Otani, past president , and Sherri Cornett, former chair of the International Caucus, re-invigorated WCA's role in the UN, by participating in international conferences and events, and developing new avenues for participation of WCA members. With Helen Poole Newman, Priscilla attended the 2008 DPI/NGO UNESCO Conference in Paris, and in cooperation with KIK and Ribbons International, exhibited at the NGO conference in Bonn Germany with Sherri Cornett (see Artwaves International Blog).
Because of my background, having co-founded an international women's art organization, and having exhibited and curated for UN programs, I have now become Director of the newly created International Caucus UN Program. It is an honor, and I look forward to working with our new group. This is an excellent time for WCA to strengthen and expand its relationship with the UN. The United Nations has articulated a renewed and energized focus on NGO's and civil society, women's issues, human rights, environmental concerns, and artists. They feel that artists can best communicate to the world at large the important issues of the day. Working with the United Nations is an impressive and inspiring experience. Most of the positive and progressive changes in the world begin with ideas developed and given substance at the UN.
The three main areas of focus that I have chosen include: Human Rights, Environment, and Culture of Peace.
It is important and meaningful that WCA is affiliated with the UN. As you cross the plaza into Headquarters, you have left the United States, and are in International Territory. The laws of the land are different. You are suddenly a global citizen. And to be surrounded by thousands of people who are all working to better the world is truly a life changing event.
THE MAIN FUNCTIONS OF THE UN ARE: to foster and maintain world peace and security , uphold international law, promote economic and social development, protect human rights, promote environmental stewardship, provide humanitarian assistance in natural disasters, conflict, and war.
TWO MAIN BRANCHES OF THE UNITED NATIONS:
1. OFFICIAL MEMBER STATES which send delegates to the UN and who make major decisions of international import, try to diplomatically and peacefully reach accords, and craft international treaties and agreements as an international governmental body.
General Assembly 193 member states Multilateral discussion of international issues Establishment of international law
Security Council 15 members Maintains international peace and security by imposing sanctions or force if necessary
ECOSOC Economic and Social Council Research and analysis Develop global norms for sustainable development
International Court of Justice Uphold international law
Secretariat Support system of Secretary General
2. NGO's (Non-Governmental Organizations) which are humanitarian grassroots activist organizations, with membership that is involved in any activities that support UN platforms. NGO's are independent from government, and serve as a crucial information and activities links between the formal UN structure and civil society.
Women's Caucus for Art involvement with the UN is as an NGO. We occasionally visit the governmental/diplomatic wing of the United Nations to observe debates and hear official speeches. But the main focus of our engagement is with other non-governmental, non-profit and academic groups who commit time and resources for humanitarian activities. There currently are 1500 NGO's which range in size from small, local, community based volunteer organizations to large national and international networks which function in a very public arena. They are all primarily hard working altruists who dedicate themselves to the betterment of the world. For example, they work to defend all human rights, they fight to stop sex trafficing, to allow young girls access to educational opportunities and protect them from early marriage and FGM, to bring clean drinking water to millions, to fight climate change, build for sustainable development, to attack misogony , to send medical workers to the front lines of battle zones, to find aid for refugees, to denounce authoritarianism, fight hunger and poverty, protect civil and religious liberties, protect indigenous cultures,, build foundations for peace, protect art and heritage sites. Their visions are broad and comprehensive, their people are noble and inspiring.
WCA is Primarily Involved with Three Entities Within the UN:
Both of the above women's groups are focused on gender equity within the UN system and in the world at large. They generate research, legislation, sponsor international conferences, and carefully monitor women's rights globally. ____________________________________________________________________________________ HIGHLIGHTS OF WCA'S UN PROGRAM
Since the International Caucus (IC) established the WCA UN Program in 2013, we have presented three panels at the Commission on the Status of Women Conferences, observed several General Assembly High Level Forums on the Culture of Peace, and the annual General Assembly meetings for world leaders. We attended three NGO international conferences, participated in numerous weekly briefings and lectures for NGO's, established a collaboration with City University of New York (CUNY) under the directorship of Liz DiGiorgio, to mentor and award two college credits to students in the Youth Representative Program. We have attracted international artists who wish to collaborate with WCA and the IC. We have attended celebrations of black women artists and performers, and participated in Holocaust commemoration ceremonies. We also created a video, "Women Artists Consider Our World" showcasing the artwork of 30 WCA artists to illustrate the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN.
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