10 Apr We’re All Human
United Families International was privileged to have university students accompany us to the Commission on the Status of Women. Elizabeth Warner shares what she learned while at the United Nations.
While at the Commission on the Status of Women, I met so many amazing and passionate people. Some were passionate about human rights, some about the environment, and some about LGBT rights or sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). While our passions may have been different, sometimes even contradictory, we all had passion. It was that passion that connected us, made us human even.
My passion is protecting the family. Social science shows that a stable home with a mother and a father can do worlds of good, for individuals and for society as a whole; I went to the UN to share that message with others. But while I went to support and share my passion, I came away learning a whole lot more.
If we are to effectively advocate for the family, we have to learn to listen to others, to understand their passions, and to see them as human. A lot of times, I realized that they were fighting for the same thing we were. They just didn’t always understand how damaging their particular methodology would really be.
I attended an event discussing the total decriminalization of the sex industry, meaning that buyers and sellers of sex would get no legal penalties. The people advocating for this wanted women to be safer and to be able to choose for themselves.
As I thought about their arguments and listened to a woman who had worked in the sex trade, she said that it was her choice to be a prostitute. But then she went on to say that she felt economic pressure, and that prostitution was the only way she could care for her children and get tuition money to go to college.
Is it really a woman’s choice if she is in such a desperate place economically? It certainly wasn’t the choice of women I heard on a previous panel who had been trafficked and pimped, who found themselves stuck in a life of prostitution and abuse.
When I asked this woman a question, it became clear that we were fighting for the same thing – just in different ways. If we really want to empower women, we need to look at the root of the problem. We need to help meet their needs – be it socially, emotionally, or economically. Making prostitution legal for all isn’t the choice women need. Women need the choice to be able to have a real job instead of putting themselves through sexual abuse for money. Women need to have their emotional needs met so they don’t feel the need to seek for unhealthy attention. As we meet these real needs women have, only then will we truly empower women to choose.
Listening to these people and their passions helped me realize that we’re more alike than we are different. This woman wanted, just as much as I did, for women to be empowered and safe. In taking time to understand her views, I was able to offer her more to think about. I was able to provide perhaps another perspective on this problem she so desperately wanted to solve.
We all have a story, and we’re all human. We can’t solve these massive problems on our own. If we take the time to really understand each other, maybe we’ll find that we have more allies than we thought.