Friday morning’s Plenary session’s emphasis was on our Grail social world. Five women who have worked extensively on committees of the United Nations non governmental agency shared aspects of this challenging work Mary Gindhart presented an overview of the Grail’s presence at the U.N. shortly after its own creation in 1945. There is a picture of Joan Overboss and Lydwine van Kersbergen talking with Daj Hammarskjöld, long time Secretary General of the U.N. Mary mentioned many Grail women and the work they did to promote the health and well being of women and children, to prevent trafficking of women, to foster peace initiatives and contribute to documents to be implemented in member countries.
Simonetta Romano shared a short video The U.N. It’s Your World (www.un.org) which made the effects of the deliberations among committees very real. The 192 nations are concerned for the 30 million world refugees, the ¼ million child soldiers, the one billion people who live on about one dollar a day, the effects of climate change and much more.
Sharon Joslyn Outlined the eight Millennium Development Goals for 2015 and invited the participants to talk about the ways that Grail groups or individuals are engaged in one or more of the goals: to eradicate extreme hunger and poverty; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality and empower women; reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; ensure environmental sustainability; and develop a global partnership for development.
Lucy Jones showed how these goals are ever present in our religious traditions. The prophet tells us to “do justice and walk kindly on the earth”; we are to care for the least of us, feed the hungry etc. Work with the U.N. requires study, perseverance and a long view. The rewards can be exciting. They are like those of a surfer who exhilerates in her ride. She is successful not because she paddles hard or finds a wave. It is because she tunes into the pull of gravity that provides the ups and downs that are so thrilling.
Simonetta and Mary Kay Louchart introduced us to women who have participated recently in the Grail program for young women that prepare them to speak at a session during the meetings on the status of women. Through a slide show and stories about the program we were enthusiastic and grateful for this work that has gone on for twenty years. A few former participants were in our midst. We were invited to imitate the Michigan Grail as they plan to send teenage girls to the meeting February 28- March 5, 2012.