Energizing the San Diego Branch

By Anne Hoiberg, WILPF member, San Diego

How exciting it was to participate in a successful panel presentation, a parallel event at the United Nations’ CSW61, March 17. Not only did the three refugee panelists tell their harrowing stories related to war or persecution, but they also discussed their organization’s programs that help other refugees. The fourth panelist, a member of the Mesa Grande Band of Mission Indians in San Diego County, described programs implemented to empower indigenous women. This panel, co-sponsored by WILPF and the Women’s Museum of California, addressed the three themes of CSW61, all related to  economic and social empowerment.

Panel moderator, Anne Hoiberg, was invited to share the high points of the panel presentation during a subsequent CSW61 panel on refugee challenges. One such achievement was the establishment of La Maestra, a nonprofit organization that provides the medical, dental, social, economic, and legal services for refugees, immigrants, and low-income families. Two other organizations work within the refugee community to end violence against women and to provide job training for women refugees. As a result, San Diego was viewed as a progressive community that cares about its refugee and indigenous women—and endeavors to end war and stop war’s consequences.

Upon returning to San Diego from CSW61, the panelists were invited to re-enact their presentations to a “standing-room-only” audience of 70 people at the Women’s Museum of San Diego. During this “United Nations Talk-back,” Susan Hagos, a Bill Gates Scholar and health advocacy coordinator, remarked that being able to participate in CSW61, thanks to a minigrant from WILPF, was “a life-changing experience.” Upon completing her MSPH in April, she will pursue her goal of becoming a Global Leader! Others on the panel and in the audience were eager to participate in upcoming WILPF events: Solidarity Day (April 22), WILPF meeting (March 28, and every fourth Tuesday of the month), and WILPF Congress (July 27-30).

Members and friends met for WILPF’s monthly luncheon meeting at the Women’s Museum of California on March 28. It was decided to promote WILPF membership at the monthly “Open House,” when all museums and art galleries in Liberty Station are open and free to the public. WILPF members will staff a table to explain our work and encourage membership. Also at the luncheon, Anne Hoiberg described the highlights of CSW61, including a no-host WILPF dinner at Patsy’s Pizzeria, during which four San Diego Branch members enjoyed meeting WILPF members from across the world.

In showcasing the stories and work of refugee and indigenous women, these events emphasize the importance of WILPF’s work in ending war, supporting nonproliferation, and demilitarizing society as well as promoting CEDAW; the Beijing Platform for Action; the Women, Peace and Security Agenda; and the MDGs and SDGs. Our work is “cut out for us.” The San Diego Branch will now get to work! Please join us!


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