Monday morning’s session focused on Gender, Feminism, and the UN and the afternoon looked at Understanding Challenges of Gender and Feminism and the UN. Both were led by Sujata Mortimer.

Today’s sessions offered to me a variety of lenses by which to consider gender and sex. Some of it was very new to me and some of it I had heard before but I realized I had not incorporated into my language or ways of thinking. We learned it is limiting to think of gender as binary. We can think of gender in different ways, either by adding categories to the list or by naming gender as continuum. We also learned that one of the effects of colonialism was to have an impact on how cultures view gender. This awareness will help me listen globally.

Monday morning during one of the breaks I also received an email from The Episcopal Church Representative to the United Nations calling for Episcopal Women to apply to be chosen as Episcopal delegates to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. “The provincial delegate and the church-wide delegates will be able to attend the official UNCSW proceedings at the United Nations and will represent the Episcopal Church/Anglican Communion in their advocacy at the UN, including joint advocacy with the group Ecumenical Women.”

The email noted that the “sixty-second session of the Commission on the Status of Women will take place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 12 to 23 March 2018. Representatives of Member States, UN entities, and ECOSOC-accredited non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from all regions of the world are welcome to attend the session.”

We also learned the theme of this year’s meeting. The theme is Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls. As I reflected on the topic, I was curious about what lens would they adopt. Would they hold onto a 1970’s model of Development or would they embrace 1990’s Gender and Development model? I would imagine the later but I chuckled to myself that I was even thinking that way.

I find myself more curious about the UN meeting after Monday’s session. THe CSW is exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. How will / could this conversation in March impact Connecticut? Monday evening I looked up the rural communities in my diocese. I learned that “The Connecticut Office of Rural Health (CT-ORH) definition of rural, adopted by the CT-ORH Advisory Board November 2014, uses the 2010 U.S. Census Data. All towns with a population census of 10,000 or less and a population density of 500 or less people per square mile are designated as rural (” Using this definition, the total number of rural Connecticut towns is 68. These towns are Sherman, Redding, Easton, Burlington, East Granby, Hartland, Marlborough,Chester, Deep River, Durham, East Haddam, Haddam, Killingworth, Middlefield, Portland, Westbrook, Bethany, Middlebury, Woodbridge, Bozrah, Franklin, Lebanon, Lisbon, Lyme, North Stonington, Old Lyme, Preston, Salem, Sprague, Voluntown, Andover, Bolton, Columbia, Hebron, Union, Willington. And, all the towns in Litchfield County are considered rural except the following towns: New Milford, Torrington, Watertown, Thomaston, Plymouth, & Winchester. All of the towns in Windham County are considered rural except Killingly, Plainfield & Windham.

68 is a significant number of towns in Connecticut and this list includes towns that are very diverse socio-economically. I’m curious how the UN Commissions session could impact our local conversations as well as connecting us to very important conversations globally. Today’s conversation connected me to all of these conversations in a new way.

My eyes have been opened as have my ears. There is much I still need to learn and I have a new frame by which to think about things. I’m excited about learning more and continuing this conversation.