Territorial Representatives Sent to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women

Major Susan Ellis and Lt. Colonel Heidi Bailey represented the Southern Territory at the 60th annual United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), held in New York City, March 14-24.

The CSW was established in 1946 and since then has been instrumental in promoting women’s rights and documenting the reality of their lives throughout the world.

At the annual conference, representatives from UN member states and NGOs gather to discuss progress and gaps in implementing the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which is a key global policy document on gender equality.

Ellis and Bailey spent one week attending meetings and sessions, learning from other nonprofits and hearing from women who experience inequality and ill treatment firsthand.

“It was important to hear their stories,” Major Ellis said. “It reminded me that God has called us to the whole world.”

With many events happening at the same time, attendees had to choose which areas to focus on. Major Ellis chose issues which directly affect Southern women, including human trafficking and immigration.

“The session that impacted me the most was the impact testimony,” she said, citing a meeting where survivors of human trafficking bravely shared their stories.

She also heard from organizations working to provide educational opportunities to Syrian refugees who often need to learn new languages to adapt to their new homes while also maintaining their cultural identity. ISIS’ use and manipulation of children was also discussed, as were methods of countering the messages that these groups send out to young people.

“I was reminded that globally, women and girls are still not valued as much as men,” she said. “It’s important to work on changing the mindset of men and boys and it starts in our own homes.”

Now that she has returned home, she intends to apply what she has learned to her work on social justice in the southeastern US where recruitment of boys and girls and mistreatment of women are still rampant.

“It reminded me how much the world needs God and how much the world needs The Salvation Army,” she said.