Sunday, 14 June 2009

Late, late, late

And lame. No excuses - more than a week has passed and this is exactly what I didn't want to happen. To lose track of the journey. To have the steps on the path day by day disappear.

However, part of my frustration I must lay at the door of the Tube strike. No fewer than EIGHT meetings or events that had to be cancelled or moved as a result of it. It played havoc with my week and for the first time, me, a transport spod, has little sympathy with the RMT and their actions. Grrrrrr.

Other excuses: stolen bike, workmen in the flat, intermittent internet connection. You get the picture. Back to the subject matter in hand...

An interesting meander through the rules and guidelines for setting up an All Party Parliamentary Group. 20 member minimum; 10 from sitting party, minimum of 6 from opposition, 4 can be Crossbenchers or others. A quick check in with the Parli Officer, who says that there is nothing similar to an FGM group being established and that one would be welcomed and we're free to go. All that needs to happen is we must identify a chair, treasurer, secretary - as well as being transparent and clear about costs and funding. So, hopefully we can get something up and running relatively quickly..... she says.

The film - hmmm. A different matter. The film of Desert Flower is definitely going ahead in Germany. It will premiere on 17th September. But distribution in the UK is - well, all I can say is that the company who is promoting the rights were cagey at best. In a very polite way. They have taken my email address and will contact me if they know anything. A dead end I sense. I need another avenue.

On Friday, an interesting chat about lobbying for a women's agency for the UN. Time is tight for a decision to be made. It seems sticking points are around whether it actually gets into this session for the UN (which ends on 14 September) or into the next session (beginning on 15 September - don't these guys take a holiday?). Quite what happens if it slips to the next session is an interesting question. I suppose we lose a year.

In spite of my reservations about setting something up in the image and under the aegis of the UN (my favourite quote about which, from Stephen Lewis: "a combination of sophistry and misogyny") I think this agency could have a lot going for it. Not least a focal point for everything that needs to happen around the women's agenda. Not least for FGM. Imagine having a place where you can go to lobby, make the case, get concerted action, get funding... A UN women's agency wouldn't be able to pass the buck. More on this later..... particularly if we do gear up a campaign.

Other conversations of note, with my friend Maggie Brenneke (grrrr - cancelled meeting) from SustainAbility - as we talk of social entrepreneurship and other matters.

With Caitlin, who is setting up a symposium on systemic thinking. We ponder about change and how it happens, as we sit on the balcony in the late day sunshine. She mentions how smoking has changed - and it wasn't how we thought - it was through the premise that no one should have to breathe smoke passively at work. She gets at the FGM problem in a different way - invites me to think about it differently - what else would have to happen in order for FGM to be eradicated? I wonder about better intimacy and sexual relations for men. Would this stop them insisting on marrying mutilated women? Would that lead to a massive shift in what was being done to little girls? Too clumsy. Any thoughts?

But it makes me realise that direct intervention is a blunt instrument and that understanding the cultural context for each country, each region, damn.... even each village - is crucial.

More, more, more thinking to be done.

The thoughts flowed freely at an Addis reunion around my table this Sunday lunchtime. We all spoke of what we missed and the things that we had come back to that we didn't expect. It was lovely to see some of the gang again, against the mayhem of the builders, the dryness of the cous-cous, the tang of Alex's home-made gooseberry and redcurrant crumble. And our first toast was to the indomitable Jeremy, in all his glory, survivor of a random stabbing in Shola market, Addis, a mere 28 days ago. How slender.... (both life and Jeremy)

And whilst not about FGM in any way, shape or form, I simply had to mention my Saturday afternoon, where I inadvertently joined in with the World Naked Bike Ride. You'd think that would be hard to do, but it was surprisingly easy! Let's say this - I did it for the sense of freedom that was mine to hold, in mind, body and soul, as I freewheeled down Park Lane.

How much freedom we have is almost non-sensical to me, having seen those who have it not.

Gather ye rosebuds....

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