23 Feb Day 2: Mothers at the UN
Dear Friend of the Family:
The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) begins today in New York and United Families International has four representatives attending: Jean Bentley, Anne Stewart, Margy Barker and Marcia Barlow.
To give you a flavor of what these women might encounter, we share a short experience from Linda Ash who is a member of UFI’s executive board. Linda and her husband Cecil Ash spent 3 years in NY attending United Nations commissions and building relationships with country delegates. Their work and experience continues to be a great boon to our UN efforts today. Here’s Linda’s report:
When a major conference is held at the United Nations, men and women from all over the world come to New York City to support a particular cause or share their grievances. Many of them plan what are called “side events,” and these side events are calendared and well publicized in the hope that conference participants will attend them.
In 2007 when I was attending the conference, Commission on the Status of Women, I walked into one such side event.
Five attractive, articulate, well-dressed women, all from Sweden, had traveled to New York City to ask that their roles as “mothers” and their desire to be “stay-at-home mothers” be acknowledged as meaningful and respectable, even crucial to society.
Their particular grievance was that unless Swedish women are working outside of their homes, they are scorned as non-contributors to society, even as parasites living off of those who are willing to work for the betterment of the country and its economy.
One woman shared with us the statistics showcasing Sweden’s growth and its successful economy. She added, however, that the statistics that are not so openly publicized are the ones relating to child suicide and the rampant depression among women who are told that they can and should “do it all.” In other words, women are told that to be a successful member of society, they must be able to keep their households and families functioning smoothly and efficiently, all the while pursuing a career. She said that government call centers have been provided for depressed children who are at home, but added that the statistics relating to the call centers do not show a reduction in the suicide rates.
As these five young women expressed their frustrations and their desires to be considered contributing members of society while staying home to raise their children, my heart ached for them and the children growing up in such a culture.
Those who attended the UN side event were as frustrated with the situation as the five women living it in their home country. The debate was spirited, and the conversation very supportive of their plight.
At one point, I spoke up saying, “We can have it all…and we can do it all. After all, we are women. However, there is a time and a season to all things. There is a season for us to pursue an education and to develop our talents and skills. There is a season to have children and to love and support and teach and guide them until they can travel through life on their own. There is also a time and a season for a career and self-indulgence, but these seasons of our lives do not run concurrently. Usually, these seasons require spacing and follow in sequential order. Utilizing this concept is the only way we can have it all. Focusing on the demands that are most important to us at the particular season of our lives brings joy and satisfaction to everyone involved. It is when we try to do things out of season that our efforts are frustrated and we experience failure.”
These words are not my words; neither are they original. I cannot take credit for them. They are found in Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3. But, they brought the entire room to their feet in applause. The truth always rings true to those who have ears to hear.
As I compare my experiences as a mother to the desires of my Swedish friends, I find myself very supportive of their perspective. In a recent article by Julie B. Beck, she referred to a mother’s role as a “Lioness at the gate of the home…. She guards that gate, and the things that matter to her are the things that matter to her family.” I have thought about that analogy many times. As I have reflected upon the years when my five active children were still at home, I can see that her comparison is extremely insightful. My thoughts have turned to the countless times with each of my children when, if I had not been available or vigilant or willing to “snarl and claw,” my children could have been “carried away” by the influences that exist to destroy their productive lives. Anyone having had teenage children will know exactly to what I am referring. Teenagers growing up in our society need a lioness standing guard, not a pussy cat, or worse yet, a distracted pussy cat. Children desperately needed mothers in the home to provide direction, encouragement and protection as they develop personal maturity and defenses against a very permissive and dangerous world.
UFI sincerely thanks our CSW representatives for the sacrifice of time and money to attend the commission this year. We know it is our continued vigilance at these commissions that offers the support and persuasion to help secure a safe future for families. We also thank you for your continued financial support for these great causes!