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The Humiliation of Regulation

Jane Gabriel
28 February 2008

The inappropriately named ‘Western Asia and Middle East' caucus met again today and attracted double the number of people from yesterday. Karama ran again, shut the door promptly and chaired the meeting. Each day they encourage someone in their group who is feeling nervous to speak up or chair a meeting - one way of empowering themselves as they navigate what has to be calculated chaos here at the UN CSW. The idea that this Commission is about ‘empowering women' is wearing thin. At the caucus everyone was given a chance to speak and additions were made to the statement including some about the specific situations of Kurdish and Saharan women refugees. The report was then submitted, all twenty two copies, font size 12, double spaced and in English. When Karama speak about the statement on Friday they will do so in Arabic and have been told that in this case they will also have to submit it in Arabic as well. They call it the "humiliation of the regulation."

Their anger is mounting at not having an Arab caucus, not being able to speak Arabic and communicate with women, who, like them, are over-worked, under-funded and are here working round the clock to try to empower women. They are discussing making a formal complaint.

Tomorrow is the most important day for Karama. They will host a panel on ‘Dignity, Financing, Refugees' in the main DHL Auditorium. Between sessions here the choice is to sit in the hallways or what's called the Vienna café - the equivalent to sitting in a giant ashtray - while planning the next move. Today they moved from one to the other and back while they worked out their key message in three points, who will say what, in what order and what to do in a variety of scenarios.

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