Working to Save the Family at the United Nations
By Gary and Joy Lundberg

Once again we found ourselves on assignment from the BYU World Family Policy Center doing our best to support The Family: A Proclamation to the World at the United Nations.  We spent two weeks in New York City to attend the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), held March 1 -12.  We soon learned that the CSW had kept its reputation for offering up a document that was fraught with problematic language that would hurt the family worldwide.  The theme this year was “The role of men and boys in achieving gender equality.” While there was merit in portions of the document, there were a number of trouble spots that kept the pro-family delegates constantly on their toes.   When the reading started the debate began, with delegates carefully considering the effects of every word. 

Ambassador Ellen Sauerbrey, who stands strong on family values, led the United States delegation with the assistance of private sector delegates Doro Bush (President Bush’s sister), Liz Cheney (V.P. Cheney’s daughter) and Ann Corkery. The European Union (EU) and Canadian delegates fought vigorously for their liberal stance, which, in most cases, cried out against the family and parents fulfilling their God-given responsibilities. 

The Trouble Spots

Ambassador Sauerbrey held her ground and the Muslim delegates supported her, as did Argentina and the Vatican delegates, on some pro-family issues.  Much to our delight, the US was determined to include the words “mothers and fathers” instead of simply “women and men” in appropriate places.  The EU and Canada don’t want these titles used because they speak loudly of role responsibilities and natural marriage. We worked at convincing other delegates of the importance of these honored titles, which indeed do elicit responsibility to the family.

The US and Sudan, along with other Muslim countries, worked hard to delete the words “reproductive rights,” which mostly refers to abortion on demand by any woman or girl without any parental intervention, and “sexual rights and services,” which means not only abortion, but the right to free distribution of condoms as the means of birth control and protection against sexually transmitted diseases, specifically HIV/AIDS. Ambassador Sauerbrey worked at having the word  “services” replaced with “programs.”  Programs allow for abstinence education, which is so desperately needed to stop the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

Another troublesome word was “stereotype.”  The opposition considers motherhood to be a negative stereotype, so our coalition worked at convincing delegates to get the word “stereotype” deleted in the most troublesome spots.  In an effort to achieve “gender equality” there seemed to be a push to de-masculinize men, with little recognition of the divinely appointed differences between men and women.

It Took a Miracle

We are thrilled to report that we achieved a good measure of success in each of these areas of concern-our prayers were answered!  It was nothing short of a miracle.  At times it seemed the hand of heaven touched the hearts of a few die-hards and they gave in to the US stand.  For example, one evening a few of us from the coalition stayed late and clustered near the door of a closed debate by certain selected delegates from the two opposing positions, including Ambassador Ellen Sauerbrey.  At that point there was nothing more we could do but pray, and that we did.  The EU delegates had been unmovable on the floor.  As the closed debate went on, a member of our coalition lamented, “There is no way Ambassador Sauerbrey can win this one.”  Almost in one voice our LDS coalition members said, “Yes, she can.  We must have faith.” Sharon Slater said, “Let’s move closer to the door and let our light penetrate the room.”  Many more silent prayers were offered.  Sooner than expected, our ambassador exited with a broad triumphant smile-it was a victory!  We extended praise and gratitude to her for doing a magnificent job in protecting the family in this document.  The next day the changes were agreed upon and the gavel banged to announce a consensus. That evening many prayers of thanks were offered to the One ultimately responsible for any success we had.

Side Event on Male/ Female Differences

During the week we presented a CSW side event as representatives of the World Family Policy Center in partnership with the Worldwide Organization for Women.  Our subject was Men and Women: Equal with Differences.  It drew a larger crowd than anticipated.  People started coming, and coming, and coming- NGOs from many different countries.  We were pleased to learn that  Doro Bush was in the audience.  (Incidentally, Doro, her preferred name, is short for Dorothy.)

We went forth and the more we got into our presentation the more the audience warmed up.  We had prepared hard and prayed equally hard, and we felt the Lord filling in where we lacked.  One radical feminist challenged us during the presentation with her own ideas. We thanked her for her comments, treated her with respect and went on unaffected by her remarks.  Her countenance fell a bit as if to say, “Ah. C’mon. I was hoping for a fight.” To our surprise and her credit, she stayed and listened. 

We presented academic studies and surveys that had been done to prove the vital need of a married father and mother in the home, and how important it is for a family to have both in order to achieve the proper balance and well being of children.  We showed the stats and explained how the differences between men and women are a strength to the family and to all society.  We felt the Spirit in the room and could see it in the eyes of the people.  Recognizing the challenges that some women face, we told about our dear friend whose husband left her with six children and how she has not let that embitter her against men.  We shared how she teaches her sons and daughters to live lives of honor and to value both men and women.  We said to this mostly female audience, “Do you realize the power you have as a woman to help the future generation understand, value and respect both men and women?  And how vital their separate roles are in building successful, happy families and societies throughout the world?”  They were with us!  We shared personal experiences of our own loving parents and grandparents, and how important the values they lived and taught were in preparing us to marry and rear a family of our own. 

Introduction of the Song Save the Family

We finished our presentation by singing the new song we had written called Save the Family.  Janice Kapp Perry put music to our words and Greg Hanson orchestrated a sound track for it.  We had long understood the power of music and used it as our final rallying call to protect the family, which power was evidenced by the way people rushed up and thanked us.  One woman said, “Never in the five years of attending the Commission on the Status of Women have I ever heard a talk that supported marriage and the family.  I can never thank you enough.  This is what I’ve been wishing for!”  Many expressed that same gratitude.  Another woman said, “If I get nothing else from coming to New York for UN meetings, being here at this meeting will have been worth the whole trip.” A woman from Australia said, “I have four children and what you said is exactly how I feel.  Nobody is saying it any more.  Thank you more than I can express.”

Over and over people were thanking us for speaking out for marriage and the family.  We were well aware of some radical feminists in the audience-a few of them left early.  But some, who had a look of defiance at the beginning changed by the end to a different, softer look.  There was a look of gratitude in the eyes of so many.  Some Muslim women came up and thanked us with almost gushing words of gratitude.  Several people took our picture with them. It was not us they were honoring, it was truth.  The woman who challenged our views earlier in the presentation said afterward, “Though I don’t agree with everything, I understand your views now.  I, too, want a loving family.”  A Muslim woman thanked us and said, “This is what Islam teaches.  I will send you a book on Islam.”  Doro Bush expressed her gratitude, saying, “This is what I believe about the family.  Thank you for saying it clearly and under these challenging circumstances.” Many requested copies of the song to use in their countries and NGO meetings. It was heartwarming to experience this “softer side” of the UN meetings.

Dr. Lynn Callister’s Side Event

At another World Family Policy Center/David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies side event Professor Lynn Callister of BYU School of Nursing presented on the subject Global Maternal Mortality: Contributing Factors and Strategies.  Professor Callister did a magnificent job, piquing the interest of many to help solve the problem of mothers dying during or as a result of child birth.  Many developing nations face this problem in greater numbers than we ever imagined.  She gave alarming statistics and some simple solutions.  Education is the key factor-just knowing a few simple procedures and practices that can stop hemorrhaging and infection can make all the difference.  She brought out the fact that it doesn’t take a lot of money, just a little know-how.  This side event was arranged at the request of Ambassador Sauerbrey.  She could not attend, but Doro Bush came to represent the US delegation.  The information was well received.

We cannot express enough thanks to other members of the pro-family coalition who played their parts well, showing courage, brilliance and faith.  To name a few, we thank our LDS friends Sharon Slater and Marcia Barlow of United Families International, Rana Lehr Lehnardt, joining us as a BYU World Family Policy Center representative, Delpha and Steven Baird of Worldwide Organization for Women; our Catholic friends Jeanne Head of National Right to Life, Peter Smith from Scotland with the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, Arlene Champoux of World Union of Catholic Women Organization, Madge Faye and Thora Regan of Catholic Women’s League Australia, Inc.; Kamilia Helmy and Normeen Mohamad from Egypt with the International Islamic Committee for Woman & Child; and others.  They were all a great support and caused much good to happen at CSW. 

How to Get Copies of Save the Family

Just a side note about the song Save the Family.  We hope this song will be played on radio/TV stations and sung at civic and religious events all across the world, inspiring parents and leaders to rise up and protect the family.  We will be giving hundreds of copies of the CD to government leaders and citizens from many nations as a gift from the World Family Policy Center at the World Congress of Families III in Mexico City March 29-31. 

The sheet music can be downloaded and printed off FREE at our Web site at https://garyjoylundberg.com/products/savefamily.shtml.  The CD of the song Save the Family in English, Arabic, French and Spanish-beautifully orchestrated and sung by professional singers, all on the same CD-is available on this same site for a nominal fee to cover reproduction and shipping costs. This is a non-profit project.