29 Feb UN General Assembly We Can’t Ignore the UN!
February 29, 2012
UN General Assembly We Can’t Ignore the UN!
It was at the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) that we first met Layla Alkhafaii. After Layla finished college in Iraq she was targeted by the Ba’ath party and told she had to join. She refused this invitation and was put in prison, along with many of her friends. She suffered in prison for 10 years and had to endure beatings, torture, and even watched some of her friends die. She was finally able to escape after 10 years and fled to Canada where she lived in exile for 14 years. When Saddam Hussein’s regime was toppled, she chose to return to Iraq to help rebuild her country. There she sat on the Iraqi parliament and worked to improve government transparency, and the conditions in her country for women and children.
After the meeting we approached her to thank her for sharing her vision, her ideals and her dedication to important issues for women and families. She was incredibly gracious and humble and we had a wonderful discussion about UFI, what we stand for and how we can work together to help her accomplish her goals. Layla is a remarkable example of someone willing to sacrifice everything to make the world a better place.
I share this story with you in the hopes of increasing your understanding of the important work that UFI sacrifices regularly for to be at the United Nations. I am often asked why we spend so many of our resources at the UN where it seems its sole intent is to destroy the family. We are there to offer hope and help to individuals and countries like Layla who want desperately to protect the family and the lifestyle family engenders.
Besides being there to strengthen NGO’s and individuals, UFI is a critical player in protecting language in international documents that bind countries to treaties that threaten or protect the families in those countries. Our strategists provide delegates and other NGO’s with necessary tools to identify and defer to language previously defined to protect the family. By building relationships with delegates, through one-on-one meetings and by showing support during negotiations, we have an amazing influence on outcome documents that countries around the world are held subject to.
I will never forget one particular night I spent “lobbying” at the Commission on the Status of Women.
Negotiations had been intense. The EU and their cohorts had insisted all week on language that would require countries to use government funds to provide abortion on demand–funds that were desperately needed to improve the lives of so many women and children in the developing world. A few valiant countries including Egypt, Pakistan, and some African nations had held strong – refusing to give into such destructive demands. We had spent the last night of the commission in the lobby, close to where the delegates would come in and out for brief moments of break as they endured the dificult and marathon-like deliberations. We researched alternative language and shared it with them. We thanked them, and encouraged them to stand strong against the tremendous pressure to cave into the anti-life agenda.
Finally at 5 am, the doors opened wide and all the delegates begin to file out. We knew the deliberations were over. I held my breath, watching for our valiant few to see if I could discern the outcome. Finally our delegate from Egypt came thru the door and headed our way. He nodded a successful but tired smile and we knew we had won. I asked him what gave him the courage to stand up to those countries who held so much power and affluence. He said, “I knew you would be waiting for me here and I couldn’t face you in defeat.” Our being there researching and encouraging had helped create a document that would protect lives around the world.
This week marks the beginning of another two week Commission on the Status of Women. Our UFI team left Tuesday and their stay will include contributing to a side event similar to the one where we met Layla. This year we will address the topic of “Best Practices for Alleviating Poverty of Rural Women and their Families” as UFI reaches out to put good public policy into humanitarian practice. We will also be meeting individually with delegates and strategizing to protect women and children with language in documents that will strengthen rather than weaken families around the world.
The ongoing activities and issues at the United Nations cannot be ignored if we are to preserve and protect the future for our families.
Like Layla Alkhafaii each of us must take an active role in making a positive difference in our country and our world. Your role will be unique for you as you assess your resources and commitments, but we can all do something! As we each decide what our role will be, we will see great results and we will make our world a better place for ourselves and our families.
I invite you to join me in spreading this important message: Families can and must be protected if we are to continue to have the blessings of a free and prosperous society.
President, United Families International