10 Minutes with Marta Benavides
Interviewed by Alvaina Daniels, Ecumenical Women Intern-Communications
EW: So, what organization (s) do you work with?
MB: I work with various organizations in the U.S. and globally. In my country, we have a movement called the 21st century movement, which works for a culture of peace, durable peace, sustainable peace, and conditions that will allow people to have peace in their country. In the US, I have participated with groups that are ecumenical and related to the National Council of Churches. Also, I’m with movements in the U.S., such as the Year Campaign, which is a campaign of the women’s movement that supports the new unit of UN Women. And I have been a part of other government processes at the UN such as financing for development, Global Coalition against Poverty and Hunger, rural endeavors and refugee endeavors. I am an older adult, but I do a lot of work with younger people. And the purpose is to support young people who have possibility to create a different world. Right now because situations are very difficult for the young people to carry out programs and create a world that they need, in terms of their needs. Because there are no jobs, education is getting expensive; there is high cost of living. It is really important that young people really start understanding the world that they’re inheriting and deciding how they are going to transform it for their needs and for future generations. And I think that they should be a lot of people from my generation, the older generation to accompany them.
EW: What issues brought you to CSW this year?
MB: In reality, it is because all those issues are creating injustice in the world and there is never going to be peace. Many of these issues: the impoverishment of people, the degradation of the environment, all the crises, the energy crisis, financial economic crisis, climate change, all that is at the base of people not having quality of life. They are very much the source of war in the world. To me, the UN is an instrument to prevent war and to work for peace. And so different processes are about that.
EW: Can you tell me about your experience this past week?
MB: Its always good when I come to the UN because I am already involved in various processes. And I have been working with them right before I came here, but this one in particular was very important because I was able to do some accompaniment to the Ecumenical Women and especially to the work of World Student Christian Federation (WSCF). I think that WSCF is a very important instrument for young people to be able to work on the world that they want. But young people have to be prepared for that.
EW: How do you feel about the creation of UN Women?
MB: We have been pushing very hard to do it. But we realized and that…if we don’t do the work, it can be hijacked. It could go in a direction that we don’t need. It has to do with how strong our movement is and how clear it is, and how much we are able to press even our own governments and other organizations to make sure that the purpose of the unit is fulfilled. And the purpose of the unit is to correct the imbalances that have been created in terms of women’s participation and their rights in the world. And it seems that we are more, the majority of the world. If we don’t work on this, the world is going to be facing all these inequities and all the other inequities have grown mostly from that inequity [imbalances in terms of women’s rights].
EW: What is something you would like to say to the younger generation?
MB: They better seek what is going on in and be clear about the world they are inheriting and the state of the planet that they have to live in. If they don’t wake up and continue to be lost in all kinds of gadgets; they will know who took them for a ride, but they will have a very bad ride. And I think if they don’t get together, they won’t have the moral authority nor the ways to demand of all the other generations to make the qualitative difference and that has to happen now. They have to learn to read the signs of the times and work to create the conditions for something different. If young people don’t participate in working the crisis, things are going to get work and they are not going to get better. With all the crises …the world will never be the same. It will never, never, never be the same. They have to know that and they have to know what world they want. Because otherwise they will just have to submit to the world that is being created for them. That will create more inequalities in the world.
EW: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us.