Joining Big Ocean Women has opened my eyes to the good that women can do, simply by using the gifts that we already have. A few weeks ago, I spoke with Carolina Allen about the upcoming Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) and the role that Big Ocean will play.
There are four goals that all Big Ocean delegates have in mind as they attend CSW, a large gathering of leaders and influencers at the United Nations headquarters in New York City. First, it is an opportunity to gather as Big Ocean leaders. Second, they use this as an opportunity to learn and teach about the philosophies of Big Ocean Women. Third, the delegates work to be informed about global women’s issues. Finally, they prepare presentations to inform people about the work that Big Ocean does.
As they are attending presentations and meeting with other delegates, the leaders of Big Ocean are listening to language, policies and trends. They will then bring this information home and work to reframe it in a positive way and share it with the cottages. From there, the cottages will work to do something positive to create local change. To further illustrate this, Carolina explained how Big Ocean approached the issue of comprehensive sexuality education. They reframed this as, “how can we have the confidence to have difficult conversations with the people that we love?” This helped me to understand that Big Ocean is aware of the issues that people today are facing, and they are helping us to navigate a sometimes confusing and frightening landscape by empowering women to look at issues through the lens of faith, family and motherhood.
At CSW, Big Ocean delegates will spread the word that there is a philosophical home for like-minded individuals. They will share and invite others to join and they will remind those they meet that there is always something that we have in common.
The priority theme for 2018 as put forth by CSW is “challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls.” I asked Carolina what role Big Ocean will play in helping to promote that theme. She told me that rural women and indigenous women have a lot at stake. They need a voice of empowerment and that’s what Big Ocean works to provide through our mission of faith, family and motherhood.
Carolina reminded me that we are training activists, but a different kind of activist than the traditional model of protests and angry demands. We should think of ourselves as water that is putting out fires, providing life, and projecting a calming and soothing presence. We are creating changes in an organic and natural way. Much like water gently shapes the landscape, we can also create lasting and dramatic change by using our natural gifts.
Carolina also took time to enlarge my vision of what I can do as a new member of Big Ocean. I find that women tend to get overwhelmed by the large number of things that CAN be done, but how do we know what we SHOULD be doing? I asked Carolina what her thoughts were. She said that to have a powerful impact I need to first act within myself by connecting with a Higher Power and asking for guidance. As I do this, my influence can expand outward to my family. It’s important to remember that the things that I do in my family will have the most lasting impact and where I should focus my best efforts. After that, I can begin to look out to my community and see where my unique talents can be best used.
Carolina said that “as a new member you are valuable and needed. Your experiences have brought you here and your contribution matters.” She said that this is true for every member of Big Ocean; we’re all needed and the things that we do and say are needed for this day and time. She also reminded me that another way that Big Ocean is different from other organizations is that the change that we create happens very organically in the pockets of our lives. As we were speaking, she was folding socks. As I’m writing this, I’m also keeping an eye on the yogurt I’m making. We’re multi-faceted women with many different gifts and responsibilities. By coming together, we can create powerful change, but we must be patient with the process and our efforts.
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Written by Kristen Miles