Turning Commitment into Action in a Global World
WG-USA 10th Annual General Meeting
October 13-15, 2017
Summary Submitted by: Louise McLeod, VP Marketing GWI, WG-USA Past President
The theme for the Annual General Meeting of Women Graduates-USA held in Milwaukee, WI the weekend of October 13-15 was: Beyond borders: turning commitment into action in a global society. The program and advocacy activities for WG-USA have been concerned with equal access to education for women and children in migrant, immigrant and refugee communities both globally and in the United States. Issues regarding refugees and immigrants was the common thread for the program throughout the weekend culminating in the adoption of two new resolutions for WG-USA public policy and action: human rights violations and the barriers to equal rights for education for refugees and; the monitoring of gender equality in accountability methods used by the US Department of State in the reporting of progress of the SDGs as priorities for WG-USA.
During the weekend, WG-USA members and guests learned about the plight of refugees fleeing Syria and their struggle to reach safe havens in parts of Northern Europe; engaged in a role playing activity that put group members in various roles in a refugee camp; and listened to speakers on many aspects of refugee issues in the United States that included: a repeat of the WG-USA refugee UNCSW panel presented in 2017 (including Hegg Hoffet recipient Martine Tchitchihe from the Cameroon now earning her PhD at the University of Pennsylvania); Social Policy and Refugees by speaker Karolina Lukasiewicz, a Polish post-doctoral student at NYU; how healthcare, legal aid for refugees and education for refugee children and other issues are being handled in the resettlement of people in the Milwaukee area; a panel of WG-USA post-graduate students (all immigrants) on bridging careers and strengthening commitments in a global society. Keynote speaker Cheryl Thomas ‘Set the Stage’ by opening a discussion on global violence against women and Saturday evening speaker Vednita Carter, founder and president of Breaking Free closed the weekend presentations with her presentation on the how trafficked women ‘break free’ of the bondage of prostitution.
The highlight of the weekend was the presentation of awards to 4 young refugee high school students for their entries in the WG-USA essay contest. Each young woman, dressed in national costume, read her essay, usually tearfully, of her personal story.
GWI President Geeta Desai made a moving speech at the beginning of the conference on the vision and perceptiveness of IFUW’s founding mothers and the work of this board. (Youtube: https://youtu.be/32S2kWeACug). This was WG-USA’s 10th anniversary and included a silent auction to raise funds for Hegg Hoffet, a birthday cake and a few words from each of the past presidents (Florine Swanson and Louise McLeod).