Master of Divinity Student Chosen to Attend the 56th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women
Upon learning she had been selected to attend the Young Women’s Leadership Experience at the 56th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) Tasha Sargent, Master of Divinity student at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, shouted with excitement. Tasha was one of nine women chosen by the National Council of Churches (NCC) to attend this year’s session on “the empowerment of rural women and their role in poverty and hunger eradication, development and current challenges.”
Held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, the Young Women’s Leadership Experience is sponsored by the National Council of Churches and Church Women United and serves as an introduction to the United Nations and the Commission on the Status of Women. Tasha’s experience introduced her to women’s issues addressed by the United Nations, as she participated in CSW sessions, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) events, and ecumenical worship services.
When asked about her experience Tasha said, “I was struck by the profound power and prophetic witness found in different faith traditions. Seeing Christian denominations, other religions, and secular organizations come together to stand up for the rights of women across the world was amazing. Their united voice really does influence the work and goals of the United Nations.”
“During the sessions and events, the stories were often difficult to hear,” noted Tasha. “Women from Africa, South America, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East shared their stories about the lack of education for rural girls past primary school, the struggles against pesticide use in farming, and the constant fight for land ownership. The unfortunate reality is that many of these rural women and girls are also often forced into early and arranged marriages. I will never forget the teenage girl from Pakistan who demanded passionately for the UN to use its power and influence to stop these early and forced marriages. These stories, and more, still resonate deeply in my heart, soul, and mind as I return to my urban life in Evanston and Chicago. Their stories remind me to be grateful for the rights and privileges I have as a woman who lives in the United States but they also remind me that there are still many in our rural and urban areas of the United States who lack access to education, adequate food and nutrition, and who still face harassment, discrimination, and bias because of their gender.”
Tasha is currently engaged in advocacy work as a seminary intern at the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women (GCSRW) for The United Methodist Church in Chicago, Illinois. Through this internship experience and the knowledge gained at the 56th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, Tasha hopes to continue advocacy work both for the Church and society at large. For Tasha it is evident that, “Human rights, and in this instance the rights of women and girls, is a concern for all people and organizations.”