Inside #CSW63: Open Door
On the opening day of CSW63, I was given the only ticket our delegation received to attend a Ministerial Roundtable about “Good Practices for Social Protections from Around the World.” My first experience at the UN, it felt a bit like winning Willy Wonka’s golden ticket! While I was willing to find my way to Conference Room 1 alone, I was really relieved Lynnaia Main, Episcopal Church Representative to the United Nations, came along to show me the way.
We arrived at the door to find the guard shuffling people out of the room. Apparently, they give more tickets than the maximum capacity of the room. I wasn’t getting in. If I looked disappointed, Lynnaia looked absolutely crushed to have gotten my hopes up. But I found out quickly Lynnaia doesn’t take “no” for an answer very easily! She gently reminded the guard that he had seen her regularly at the UN and that people often leave their spots after the first few minutes. She asked politely if he’d allow me to wait for that to happen so I could take one of their seats. He agreed.
Lynnaia left, and I began my awkward wait, trying not to make eye contact when someone new approached trying to get in. I bowed my head and closed my eyes to center myself and calm down, and as I did so, I said to God, “Lord, bless this meeting and all the people attending it. Send the Holy Spirit to be with the speakers. Help them to serve your people.”
It was about that point when the guard cracked the door open, glanced at me with a knowing look, and I realized that with the door ajar, I could hear the speakers. I leaned a little closer to the door and added to my prayer, “And Lord, I’d really like to be in that room if you could open the door for me!”
A few minutes later, a small group of African women in gorgeous traditional dress came out, smiled at me and the guard, and said goodbye. The guard peeked in the room, looked back at me, and waved me in! As I stepped through the door, he said, “Go down till you see an empty seat, and just make your way in.” I didn’t realize what he meant until I got there.
At the bottom of the gallery section, I could see four empty seats! I ducked in, slid into a seat, and tried not to call attention to myself. I got my notebook out, put the headphone on my ear, and immediately heard a soothing voice simultaneously translating the speaker into English. I settled back into the leather chair and picked up my pen.
Lord, thank you for opening doors for us to bring your Church into this secular space. Speak through us to both the Church and the world. Help us encourage all we come in contact with to be bold in their work to eliminate the impediments preventing women and girls from realizing fully their empowerment. Amen.
Dana Jean, Diocese of Dallas (Province VII) After 25+ years of being – at best – a lukewarm Catholic, Dana heard God’s call after the earthquake in Haiti as she and her Haitian husband tried desperately to locate family. It transformed their faith, leading them to The Episcopal Church. She went from feeling she didn’t fit in the church to knowing building God’s Kingdom is the only work she will ever do. After teaching in Mexico and the U.S., and building libraries in Haiti and Jamaica, she is now Outreach Director at St. Andrew’s in McKinney, Texas, leading their church in serving and advocating for the marginalized. She and her husband moved to Texas in 2011 with three now adult children.