As I child, I adored "choose your own adventure' books. Perhaps that's why I am so comfortable at large conferences like the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW), where one chooses for oneself the path one will take.
Just one week ago the Anglican Communion Office delegation (24 women) met for orientation; Saturday we joined with Ecumenical Women (about 200 women) for a broader orientation; Sunday the orienting continued to expand with the NGO-CSW session (thousands of people!). Each adventure built upon the last, and we were invited to be as engaged as we were able!
From Monday's opening session, the choices for our own adventures became practically infinite. We can observe most of the formal CSW proceedings on the economic empowerment of women in the changing world of work, or attend side events (activities outside the formal programme, usually panels addressing specific issues), or parallel events (off-campus events, such as workshops or advocacy opportunities, coordinated by NGOs to compliment and enhance the experience). These diverse events address gender justice, through any number of foci: human trafficking, indigenous rights, gender-based violence, humanitarian crises, local initiatives, &c.
We have the opportunity to begin our days with worship at the Church Centre; The Episcopal Church offers a noon-time Eucharist and hospitality space. As our minds are filled with the practicalities of the sessions we attend, our spirits are nourished by the care of our sisters (and brothers!) in the church. To frame our time here in Christian love and worship is a gift; to discern where our faith leads us on this adventure is a blessing.
We choose our own UNCSW adventure based on our choices: the people with whom we connect, the events we attend, the way we spend our time and energy. The CSW is half over, yet the choices remain.
We will soon choose how we will share the stories of our time together here, we will choose to discern how God is calling us to continue this work, we will choose to remain committed to the work of gender justice and equal human rights for all.
Fully living our faith is an adventure and an on-going journey; this CSW is merely one part. I thank God for the privilege to integrate this event into the story of my journey towards justice, for the love of God and in service to Christ.
The Revd Laura Marie Piotrowicz is Rector of St. John's, Port Dalhousie,Canada and a member of UNCSW delegation