09 March 2007

Women of the Mountains, Day 1

So, I spent a rather interesting IWD. Listening to the ambassador from Turkmenistan singing the praises of Turkmenistan's peace and prosperity (since he really couldn't say much that is positive about women in Turkmenistan) to hearing to a women extol the virtues of Fascinating Womanhood makes for, well, an interesting day. (I'm still debating what exactly her point was- she couldn't really think that book is any good, could she?).

I have been enjoying the conference though. Sadly though a number of participants weren't able to come which leaves a rather Utah-centric discussion. And that's not what I was going for. I was hoping for an international conference (not academic, UVSC couldn't really pull that off).

It was interesting though to listen to the ambassadors speak about gender equality in their various countries (Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Mongolia, Albania, and Nepal). The Nepalese Ambassador to the UN gave the best presentation, but the Kyrgyz Ambassador, the only women of the group, gave the most interesting. She said that women in Kyrgyzstan, mostly because of tradition, aren't ready to be leaders yet in Kyrgyzstan. I don't agree with that; I think it's more likely that men aren't ready, but overall I enjoyed what she had to say.

The best paper I heard presented was Jini Roby's on orphans. She said her research in Africa has found that mothers who are dying of AIDS prefer their soon-to-be-orphaned children to go to orphanages rather than extended family. I was pretty surprised by that, but her research also found that those mothers' biggest worries for their children are food and education. Say what you will about orphanages, but they often do a reasonable job of providing food and education to children. I think a loving home environment might be as important to me as the food and education though, after spending time in the baby house.

Overall, a nice Women's Day. They even handed out flowers. I felt so special.

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