Torrington resident visits Women Equality Conference in NYC

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TORRINGTON – Carolyn McBurney has been a familiar face in the city of Torrington for five years. Originally from Texas and having grown up there, her path eventually took her to Arizona, where she lived with her husband, Bruce for over 30 years. While Bruce currently fills the position of pastor at First Wyoming United Presbyterian Church, McBurney works part time at the bread doctor. 

Before she retired, she worked primarily for television, marketing, and promoting for 20 years. Many of the various associations that McBurney worked for were, in fact, Fox affiliated. Johnny Depp, Ed O’Neil and Tracy Ullman were among some of the people she had the privilege to meet, before becoming a “retired preachers wife” as she puts it.

However in recent times, McBurney applied to, and was accepted, to be a delegate to the  Commission on Status of Women (CSW). When asked how she became involved with the organization, McBurney explained that although this was her first conference with the CSW, her previous experience was primarily with presbyterian women. “I am co moderator here in town at our church,” McBurney said. “I’m the moderator of the presbytery of Wyoming.” She applied to be a delegate with the CWS earlier this year.

For those of us that have never heard of the organization, the CSW is in fact a commission of the United Nations’ Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Each year, representatives and delegates of the CSW have a chance to meet before the UN, to evaluate progress on gender equality, and women’s rights. McBurney had the very unique opportunity to be a part of that meeting, held in New York City, just recently this last March. 

The theme this year, was women and their access to technology, with the UN checking in on how women are doing worldwide with access to that technology. 7000 women were in attendance, with close to an additional 11,000 participating via technology and online. The conference lasted form March 2-17th

McBurney’s role as a delegate with the CSW, comes with various tasks and responsibilities. The prime factor that comes with the cause of the CSW, and delegates as a whole, is to predominantly help inspire, as well as assist others. They must come well equipped, to campaign and spread awareness for gender equality, as well as the empowerment of women at the international level. 

McBurney’s job requires her to use her experience from the commission at the local, state, and national level. She recently explained to the Telegram what she encountered at the conference held in NYC. 

“There were so many people, listening to earphones for interpretation, there were Taiwanese, Japanese, Arabic, everyone was there.” McBurney explained. Women of Ukraine, Congo, Myanmar and Afghanistan were also in attendance. 

“ We were able to have an audience with the ninth secretary general of the UN on the floor, Antonio Guterres,” she continued. “Thousands of women everywhere. So many of these women were literally risking their lives to be there, begging [Guterres] to do something.”

McBurney was adamant that so many of the women in attendance, that she had the privilege to meet and talk to, were indeed living under current governments that would inflict severe and in some cases final consequences, just for women to insist on having their voices heard. 

“Lots of civil unrest, and governments targeting, particularly women, who have very little social status and very few rights,” McBurney said. “Just in general, the governments of these countries will suppress any kind of disagreement.”

When asked what fascinated her the most about her experience, she replied, “There were women who came at the last second because of sitting on the process of visas. One of the best things about it was these women from all over the world were wearing their native garbs. One of the women I met first was from Myanmar, near Thailand. She was selling earrings that her and her mother made. We talked about where we were from, women of all kinds of faith, how they are treated and we were being asked to advocate for them.” 

McBurney continued on why she believes that even in this day and age, with so much progress accomplished in certain parts of the world, and with so much awareness and access regarding gender equality, why women yet are still not treated as equals as men, in certain parts of the world. McBurney responded, she still believes it has to do with religion.

“The most horrific thing to me is that most of these things are done in the name of religion. Men have claimed power in most religions. As a result of this, religion has been used for power in the church, particularly towards women and ethnic groups. We need [religious leaders] to give freedom and support, if any of this is going to change. As women, we need to show that women in leadership is not a threat. Whether that’s in government, schools, workplace and church, we need to tell the positive stories.”

McBurney believes firmly that because of the continuous inequality brought on by women, men can also feel the effects in a negative way. She feels that men, still to this day, are required to take on way too much. Whether it be in the workplace, at home, or society in general, the gender inequality puts an emotional, mental and physical strain on men, creating an extremely unhealthy overall quality of life.

“Masculinity is a cultural norm, and our expectations of a man in this country are not what it is in another. Our expectations vary. If we can work on the expectations that are put in men, so that they’re given a break, so to speak, so that they feel they don’t have to carry the burden weighted on them by society. We can fix this. It’s unfair what has been done to men, because of the inequality we have bestowed on women. Neither is fair.”

McBurney has also been to Africa in recent years. “After seeing progress made Africa and other small, tired world countries, these are the results we get when we talk,” McBurney explained. “Even Cuba has made tremendous progress with equality for women, government, employment and healthcare. [They] have made progress that may be ahead of the U.S, yet we don’t hear about it.”

McBurney is open and hopeful for people to contact her for further information, and is open for presentations. Her work with CSW remains a primary goal, to make people more and more aware and, of course, to make change a reality, here and around the word. 

For more information, she can be contacted at carolynmcburney.blogspot.com