The PPSEAWA USA Annual Meeting was held on May 12, 2017, at the United Nations Church Center in New York. We held an election and welcomed new national board members for the term 2017-2019.
It has been a busy year! We sent eight delegates to the 26th PPSEAWA International Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from August 25-29, 2016. The theme was “Respect the Environment for a Sustainable and Peaceful Future”. The PPSEAWA USA Exhibition Booth focused on “Sustainable Living - Make Cleaner, Greener Choices”. We featured our environmental programs in Chicago, New York, and Toledo, which raised awareness of UN goals such as SDG 6 clean water and SDG 12 sustainable consumption. We handed out PPSEAWA USA brochures which highlighted our activities from 2013-2016, and held a daily raffle for reusable shopping bags and lunch boxes (donated by recycling agencies in Chicago and New York). We offered two eco-friendly crafts at the booth as way of engaging people from other countries: 1) simple ways to eliminate plastic shopping bags by turning a scarf into a bag and packaging items with fabric, and 2) weaving friendship bracelets from cord, which was popular with young women. Furthermore, I had the honor of serving on a panel. I presented my paper entitled “Building Sustainable Communities: Women and Children are Vital Partners”, which looked at green community practices regarding storm management, habitat conservation, school gardens, and food recovery in my hometown. I was privileged to share the stage with Dr. Martapina Anggai, who spoke on Papua Province, Indonesia; Dr. Genie Trapp, who spoke on Honolulu, Hawaii; and Beryl Vincent, who spoke on Wellington, New Zealand. Council members took part in a lake-cleaning activity at the PPSEAWA International Peace Garden in Kuala Lumpur.
Generous donations to the PPSEAWA USA Education Fund enabled a $1000 scholarship award for a high school student at Josephinum Academy of the Sacred Heart in Chicago, to cover her unmet tuition needs for the academic year 2016-17. We also sent a contribution to PPSEAWA Fiji in May 2016 for disaster relief projects following Tropical Cyclone Winston.
Thirteen PPSEAWA USA members attended the 61st Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW61) at the UN Headquarters in New York from March 13-24, 2017. PPSEAWA co-sponsored a variety of well-attended panels on anti-trafficking measures, economic opportunities and challenges for domestic violence survivors, migrants, and refugees, and on new topics such as women’s mental health and non-communicable diseases. PPSEAWA USA co-hosted a cocktail reception for CSW participants with PPSEAWA International and the New York Chapter on March 13, 2017.
Our Annual Review for the United Nations was successful and we were approved for four UN grounds passes. Our UN Representatives kept us updated and printed their detailed reports in the national newsletters. PPSEAWA USA is deeply involved with UN initiatives regarding education, health, and gender-based violence. Our focus has been on Sustainable Development Goal 5 Gender Equality, as well as Goal 3 Health, Goal 4 Education, and Goal 12 Sustainable consumption (especially eco-friendly individual practices). Local chapter host programs that raise awareness of these UN initiatives. For example, the Chicago Chapter held a program on Mental Health and Happiness in United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda in the spring. The UN’s position is that economic wealth is not the prime indicator of a country’s success, and happiness should be the measure of social progress and central to public policies. Members watched “Happy,” a 2011 feature documentary film that explores human happiness through interviews with people from all walks of life in 14 different countries, weaving in the newest findings of positive psychology.
The two Youth Representatives attended CSW61. They reported that issues for girls and young women include access to education and technology, need for leadership skills and training, and barriers to literacy and education. The Toledo Chapter contributed to the Africa Library Project initiated by these Youth Reps. The young women collected 1000 gently used children’s books for readers from kindergarten through fifth grade to start a library at an elementary school in Kenya - to an African community that has lots of eager readers but very few books.