A busy few days …

So two days since my last sex and the summit note. It has been a mix of frustration, and real interest, and the chance to meet old friends, and new people, some of whom were experiencing NY and the UN for the first time.

The Women Deliver brunch yesterday – some interesting statements, not least that the opulent, elegant Waldorf hotel where we met was apparently once the site of a huge fistula hospital, which makes you think

Unlike the Roundtable today, the speakers kept within their 4-5 minutes, and managed to keep us motivated, and the table conversations were an interesting model.

I was particularly interested by the international youth coalition’s comment that the MDGs are not engaging young people. Graca Machel was great – and very clear about the need for governments to be responsible, and that action must take place at the local level.

The ‘stand up’ event at the Lincoln Centre to draw attention to global poverty, HIV, was a good effort at raising public awareness on a range of issues, by a number of NGOs, and I had the unexpected chance to talk with Sylvia Borren, a Dutch New Zealander who is the Co Chair of the Global Coalition Against Poverty, which seems to be very successful on a very limited budget. And conversations with Sylvia always leave me thinking about what can be done differently to build a movement, and to impact on poverty.

From there to a Women Deliver advisory board meeting, with one of the few talkative yellow cab drivers I’ve met. He was from Bangladesh, and knew the MA. At the meeting we discussed the evaluations, lessons learned, wide ranging media coverage, definitions of feminism and possible plans for the next WD in 2013 – Kuala Lumpur? Bangkok? Ethiopia, South Africa

Wherever, Jill is certainly to be congratulated on what she and a very small team have done-truly extraordinary!

And then to the NGO meeting to prepare for the Summit-a large number from different NGOs, from the South. And many for the first time. It was good to see a number from IPPF MAs and 2 regional offices. The young members of the NY group that have tracked the byzantine processes of the UN over the last few months showed great leadership and organisation. For us it was a good opportunity to hear what others wanted to see included in our 3 Minute statement today, and what their concerns are –  about the week, the Outcome Document, and the Secretary Generals Global Strategy.

And so to today, time spent on finalising the 3 minute marathon as we struggled to get everything in, and then reduce it by 500 per cent! Never was so much time spent by so many on so little – as you will see!

The sunny streets of NY were a little different from usual this morning, with a protest against the Hilton for having Iran’s head of state to stay, barriers closing off the streets round the UN, the NYPD out in full force and snipers on the roof.

The Round Table was interesting – a number of states have clearly made some significant achievements in health and education, others were clear that they still had a long way to go – and some described achievements in minute detail, and, I suspect with some optimism! Some specifically addressed MDG 5B, which was encouraging to hear.

As a result of the session running late, the 4 civil society reps were asked at the end of the 3 hour session to reduce our 3 minutes to 1 – a further challenge which we struggled with, partly because of the points we wanted to make, even to a diminished audience, and partly – at least in my case – because of a stubborn sense of wanting civil society to be given the chance for a meaningful contribution! I do think we need to work with some of our contacts in the administration to try to get better processes and space for civil society in the run up to 2015, otherwise they risk losing credibility and civil society becoming increasingly resentful. Certainly there are some within the UN who would like to get beyond 24 roundtable participants and 24 Passes for others, but I imagine some Member States may be less enthusiastic.

I followed this with the launch of the Global Leaders Council for reproductive Health-chaired by Mary Robinson, the Leaders include Fred Sai, Helen Clark, Annie Lennox, and a number of others who have had distinguished careers. It’s come out of the September 2008 meeting here, hosted by Packard and Gates, and it will be well worth seeing if there are ways we can work together, or exchange views.

On the way back from dinner, walking past the high piled rubbish bags, I met a man striding down 45th St singing opera –  a wonderful voice – and so confident and relaxed – as if it was a completely normal thing to do! And I guess that’s the essence of New York! And yes when I arrived back – my missing bag had finally arrived!

And now some sleep before tomorrow’s 7.30 HIV breakfast!

Gill

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