Central delegates participate in United Nations Commission


May 2013

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Four women from the Central Territory were part of a 16-member delegation representing The Salvation Army at the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at the United Nations in New York. Dr. Linda Burkle, Betty Zylstra, Elyse Dobney and Major Julie Aren joined with women from the other three U.S. territories and International Social Justice Commission (ISJC) personnel including Major Victoria Edmonds, senior representative to the United Nations, to participate in the non-governmental agency (NGO) meetings of the CSW. These coincided with and supported meetings of official government delegates developing strategic objectives and policies for consideration by the United Nations to affect change for women worldwide.

More than 6,000 women from around the world took part in this year's commission which had a priority theme of eliminating and preventing all forms of violence against women and girls.  In preparation, The Salvation Army, through the ISJC, submitted a statement on this subject to the U.N. Economic and Social Council.

"At the CSW we were given insight into the amazing, influential role that The Salvation Army plays at the United Nations. It was encouraging to learn about the global stand groups are taking against human trafficking," said Elyse Dobney, volunteer manager for STOP-IT, an initiative against human trafficking in Chicago.

One of the 400 parallel events held during CSW was hosted by The Salvation Army in the ISJC building on "Violence and the Church: A Salvation Army Perspective." Dr. Linda Burkle, Western divisional director of social services, was part of a four-woman panel which presented on how The Salvation Army responds to violence and what mechanisms are in place to address this growing issue.

"This was truly a dream come true for me after studying the U.N. in my doctoral work years ago," said Linda who is a social worker, licensed mental health practitioner and holds a doctorate degree in international relations. She has done extensive mission and humanitarian work in more than 20 countries and was appointed last year by Nebraska Governor Dave Heinemann to a task force to investigate and study human trafficking.

"My experience was listening, learning and sharing with delegates from all over the world, enlarging my network and the Army's network through collaborative efforts with others in recognizing and responding to this worldwide concern," said Major Julie Aren, Chicago Northside Adult Rehabilitation Center administrator, who's been an advocate and initiator of programs for women within the ARC ministry.

Since 1947 The Salvation Army has participated at the United Nations as a non-governmental organization (NGO), influencing global policy initiatives through resolutions and collaboration. Under General Shaw Clifton (Rtd.), The Salvation Army established the International Social Justice Commission, with representatives in New York, Vienna and Geneva. It was created to be The Salvation Army's strategic voice to advocate for human dignity and social justice for the world's poor and oppressed.

"I believe that it is absolutely critical that The Salvation Army is seated at the table for these kinds of discussions," said Betty Zylstra, social services director in Kent County, Mich. "Whether in Kent County or halfway around the globe, it is important for The Salvation Army to listen, to learn and build stronger understandings from an international perspective and then to engage."

 


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