Traveling Nancy

Traveling around the world as far as I can go.

Tehran 4/24

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The pool and hot tub in the Espinas hotel had limited hours for woman but I managed to find time to use it early in the morning before breakfast.  It would have been closed by the time we got back from our day.


Then I went to Sally’s and Diane’s room because they had a better view of the mountains around Tehran. I was a little late because the clouds had already begun to cover them.


We drove across Tehran this morning to go to the Sa’adabad Complex.  It was a long drive and I took photos from the bus.

We were in a wealthy part of town  I think Nadereh said the apartments are about 1200 sq meters.

The Sa’adabad Complex includes 18 buildings, 10 of them are opened for public. 4 of the buildings are at the disposal of presidency organization, 3 buildings host administration of the complex. Because of the size of the area we rode in a open tourist vehicle across the area.  First we visited Green Palace (Shahvand Palace) which was built during the last years of Qajar era and rebuilt by Shah Reza. He used it as a residence for his guests and a place for receptions. I took many photos.  The landscape of the area was quite lovely.


When we left the Green Palace, almost all of us decided to walk through the grounds rather than being in the vehicle.

Of course I had to photograph this beautiful cat.

We met up with another group of students.  Of course I talked with them and took photos.

We had a good laugh when we noticed this group of students taking photos of us.

We also toured the White Palace which was built in the early 1930s by Reza Pahlavi and served as a summer residence.  Now the palace displays furniture, decorations, paintings, and carpets in the same state as they were during the reign of Shah Reza.

I laughed when I caught a photo of Bill’s shadow because I know he didn’t want photos of himself posted on the web.  But he said this one would be okay.

These Anglo Indian carved hardwood pieces of furniture were so beautiful.

This is an Anglo-Indian elephant statue in carved hardwood and inlaid bone.

The flowers on the property were beautiful.

Then I met more girls who talked with us and took photographs.

As we were walking back to the bus we heard music playing in the distance.  I used my zoo lens to get a photo of the instruments.

When we stopped for lunch, we walked by this hamburger place.  I thought the sign was funny.

We had Tah dig for lunch and I think that was the name of the restaurant.

Then we visited the Tehran Market. Markets are one of my favorite places to be. We were allowed to wander on our own for about 30 minutes. Wandering in markets is my happy place and  I took many, many photos.

Jane helped me search for a place to buy more pistachio nuts and I purchased 2kg.

Some people were roasting corn.

These people were enjoying theirs.

There was a view of the mountains on the outside of the market.

We couldn’t figure out why that had died these baby chicks.

These were the largest stalks of celery I have ever seen.

Some people were selling local honey.

On the way back to the hotel we saw this painting on a building.


The traffic was intense.

We made it back in time for a 5 course meal cooking lesson.

Some of us helped to prepare the ingredients.  Sally was cutting cucumbers.

This is the chef.

Sally and Ellen were doing more chopping.

The eggplant was cooking on the stove.

Nadereh interpreted as the chef was cooking but promised to translate all of the recipes and send them to us.

We made stuffed peppers.

Jan was rolling grape leaves.

I was crushing lemons in a drink.

This was the chicken for the kebabs.

Jane helped put the chicken on the skewers.



The food was delicious.

Although we have been  home for over a month and I have communicated with Nadereh several times through Whatsapp, we have not received any recipes.

An interesting thing happened at dinner tonight.  I realized that we may be getting back to the hotel later than I thought and I had contacted the Iranian Servas people who were planning to meet me at the hotel.  I asked a woman from our group who had a sim card so I could try to Whatsapp them.  I was not able to to that, but, by accident, I saw a message on her phone from Sami that said she could go out in Isfahan.  That really threw me.  Did those women who went walking actually have permission to go out for a walk?  How annoying.  There was nothing I could do about it now, so I just kept my mouth shut.

I did ask Naderah to contact them and ask them to come at 9:30 instead of 9;00.  She did not remember that we said it would be this night.  Anyway, after we got back to the hotel, I came downstairs to wait for them.  Nadereh was waiting in the lobby.  She said that she hoped my meeting was going to be short.  I found that annoying.  Anyway, I was walking around the lobby when I received a Whatsapp message from Hossein. He was asking where I was and I told him that I was in the lobby of the hotel.  Then he called me using Whatsapp.  We discovered that Road Scholar had given me the phone number for the other Espinas Hotel which was completely on the other side of Tehran.  I was so disappointed.  But Hossein said that he and another Servas member where going to drive all the way to see me.  I went back to Nadereh and told her about the mistake and that they were not going to be able to come.  I just wanted her to go home.  And she did.  I am sure that she probably suspected what I was doing, but there was nothing she could do.

At about 11:00, Hossein and Mersa (another Servas member) arrived.  We had a lovely time together.  Servas is such a wonderful organization.  How important it is to have an organization that promotes intercultural exchange and I am go glad I am a member.  It was wonderful to have the opportunity to meet with them.

And there is more.  Zahra, who is another Servas member could not come because her mother was not feeling well.  She is a remarkable woman who had just recently attended the 63th Commission on the Status of Women in NY as a Servas Representative.  She sent some photos to me.

More importantly, she sent me her report from the conference.  I am including it (without names) in this post because I hope that many people see it.

Servas International at the 63th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW63)

The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. The CSW is a functional commission of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), one of the main organizations within the United Nations. Every year, representatives of Member States1, UN entities, and ECOSOC-accredited non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from all regions of the world attend the session at United Nations Headquarters in New York to evaluate progress on gender equality, identify challenges, set global standards and formulate concrete policies to promote gender equality and advancement of women worldwide. The CSW is instrumental in promoting women’s rights, documenting the reality of women’s lives throughout the world, and shaping global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women.

1 The Commission consists of 45 member states who are elected for a period of four years by ECOSOC on the basis of equitable geographical distribution.

UN-Women is the United Nations organization dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. A global champion for women and girls, UN-Women was established to accelerate progress on realizing their rights and meeting their needs worldwide. UN-Women supports United Nations Member States as they set global standards for achieving gender equality, and works with governments and civil society to design laws, policies, program and services needed to implement these standards. It stands behind women’s enjoyment of their human rights in all aspects of life, focusing on five priority areas: increasing women’s leadership and participation; ending violence against women; engaging women in all aspects of peace and security processes; enhancing women’s economic empowerment; and making gender equality central to national development planning and budgeting. UN-Women prepares the evidence-base, policy analysis and recommendations that underpin the Commission’s deliberations on the themes selected for each session, as well as for negotiated outcomes.

UN-Women also coordinates and promotes the United Nations system’s work in advancing gender equality.

Servas International (SI) is one of more than 5000 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) accredited with consultative status by UN ECOSOC. Servas International has had consultative status at the UN since 1973. The consultative status makes it possible for Servas International to be active at the premises of the United Nations in New York City in USA, Geneva in Switzerland and Vienna in Austria. As Servas members, we connect with the UN as part of a peace-building process to provide a world free of violence, poverty and inequality. Our mission is build world peace, goodwill and mutual understanding by providing opportunities for personal interactions among people irrespective of their ages, cultures, backgrounds, and nationalities.

The Servas International representatives at the United Nations attend sessions, help Servas members wanting to visit UN venues, share information about United Nations principles and activities, co-sign joint NGO statements, and at times are able to deliver written or oral declarations on behalf of Servas. They are also able to organize side events on different issues.

The sixty-third session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW63) took place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 11 to 22 March 2019 with the primary themes of social protection systems, access to public services, and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.

Official Meetings

Access to General Assembly and conference rooms were limited during CSW63, due to a very high number of NGO representatives who registered, placing a high demand on the finite space at the United Nations Headquarters. There were approximately 200 seats in the plenary room for the 4000-5000 NGOs that were expected. Some meetings were also held in closed rooms. The number of representatives who could attend open official meetings was contingent on the availability of space. Therefore, all official UN meetings were also available on the UN Web TV Channel at

Generally, the Commission on the Status of Women held all meetings during a two-week session covering the topic, “Good practices in the provision of social protection, public services and sustainable infrastructure” under the primary theme of “Social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls”. Participants exchanged experiences, challenges and good practices in relation to access to social protection systems, public services and sustainable infrastructure for women and girls. These key topics, central to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, emphasized existing national legislative and policy frameworks and existing measures that have delivered concrete results for women and girls.

The priority theme of CSW63 was negotiated by all Member States. Additionally, they identified gaps and challenges in the implementation of previous commitments and made action-oriented recommendations for all States, relevant intergovernmental bodies, mechanisms and entities of the United Nations system and other relevant stakeholders.

Side Events

During the session many side events were organized to draw attention to critical aspects of the work on gender equality. NGO representatives registered for CSW63 had the opportunity to enhance their CSW experience by visiting side events.

NGO representatives’ UN grounds pass was sufficient to gain access to the General Assembly Building and the Conference Building, where official CSW meetings and side events took place. NGOs with valid UN grounds passes did not have to indicate prior interest in attending side events, unless specified by event sponsors.

The active participation of NGOs is a critical element in the work of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). NGOs have been influential in shaping the current global policy framework on women’s empowerment and gender equality.

The program of side events, or activities organized outside the formal program of the session of the Commission, provided an excellent opportunity for NGOs to discuss themes of the Commission and other critical gender equality issues.

Side events included a ministerial segment and other high-level interactive dialogues, a general discussion, as well as interactive and expert panel discussions. Stakeholders organized many side events to draw attention to critical aspects of the work on gender equality. Side events were also a key opportunity for policy makers, advocates, researchers and activists to network and strategize, mobilize and plan new initiatives and actions to further the cause of gender equality and women’s empowerment.

During the conference, more than 40 side events were held almost daily. These events took place in UN rooms at specific times according to the calendar. Many of these meetings were held simultaneously, requiring participants to choose one.

Experiences and Impressions:

“I believe that these circles of women around us, weave invisible nets of love that carry us when we’re weak and sing with us when we’re strong”

During CSW63, we grieved and sometimes even shed tears while seeing and hearing the suffering of women around the world, but we also rejoiced in and celebrated their joys and achievements. Look to see the conference from our perspective:

In close collaboration with the SI Peace Secretary, we did outreach and networking with other NGOs, further building a peace network. By strengthening these connections, we hope to partner in future peace projects. Our presence at the UN also served to promote Servas as a peace building organization. We shared business cards, email addresses, and pamphlets with those interested in partnering or discussing Servas membership further. As Servas representatives, we learned how

UN-Women works to improve gender equality and empower women. In turn, we shared with the UN our perspectives on gender equality and the empowerment women, human rights and social justice issues.

Each one of us selected specific topics of interest and attended the official sessions and minimally four side events daily.

An overview of the some of the side events that I attended:

Inclusive quality education and lifelong learning – key for gender equality and empowerment of women.

By UNESCO and Permanent Missions of Argentina, the Czech Republic, Japan, Kenya and Norway

The event explored how to advance the global commitment on gender equality and women’s empowerment with a specific focus on the transformative potential of inclusive quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for women and girls. In particular, by sharing good practices in ensuring targeted policy measures to expand access and ensure the quality of education for women and girls. Moreover, highlighting the importance of investments needed to ensure that all girls are equipped to prepare for a better future.

 Justice for Women

World Bank, International Development Law Organization (IDLO), UN Women and the Task Force on Justice

Justice for women is a critical dimension of social protection, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women. As a public good, justice is a means of protecting women and girls from violations of their rights. The adoption of a global commitment to promote peaceful, just and inclusive societies and access to justice for all and a standalone commitment to gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls are unprecedented. There is enormous opportunity to make a difference in the lives of women and girls through the global momentum afforded by these pledges.

 Social inclusion for women being independent

By Japan, the National Women’s Committee for the UN NGOs, the International Women’s Year Liaison Group, and Japan Women’s Watch (JAWW)

Social inclusion is the key word. Inclusion of different groups, especially women to establish sustainable peace and security. The typical economy gives women 3/4 rights of men! In many economies women are paid less. Women are expected to work and then do household work as well work outside and inside the home. Women should have the decision to do so and not because society expects women to do so. A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf, published in 1929, emphasizes how important it is for women to be economically independent, and this was in 1929. If it was deemed important 90 years ago, why are women still not economically independent? “What are the obstacles for women to break through this situation?”

Film Screening: Women, Peace and Power – the stories of women peacemakers from Northern Ireland, Afghanistan and Liberia.

By Ireland and Peace is Loud

As part of the impact campaign for the series, Peace is Loud has created the accompanying short film, Women, Peace & Power. The film follows the stories of female activists, politicians, and ordinary citizens in Afghanistan, Liberia, and Northern Ireland as they try to influence peace talks against all odds. This 25-minute film can be used as a training tool for diplomats, policymakers, peacebuilders, and students of international affairs, to spark a discussion on the nexus of gender and security.

 Breaking Stereotypes: Muslim Women as Agents of Change

By Pakistan, Turkey, Iran and Indonesia

The side-event provided an opportunity for Member States, UN entities and civil society to discuss the efforts of Muslim women who have challenged the traditional stereotypes about them. Making their mark innumerous fields on a daily basis and around the world, Muslim women are not only proving that women should have an equal role in Muslim society, but they are also holding up ‘half the sky’. Women have always played a vital role in human development, a role that has largely been unsung and under acknowledged. In very few cultures, until relatively recently, have women been recognized to have an equal role with men, and equal rights to participate in all social spheres. Social structures and misinterpretation of religious edicts have had a constraining effect but women have still sought to overcome the challenges.

Muslim women have proven themselves to be resourceful, creative, and dedicated. Today, they are actively participating in all fields of life and making their mark on societies. They are breaking the glass ceiling in education, culture, medicine, business and as managers by holding key positions. These extraordinary women have achieved some of the highest positions.

 Mentoring and Inspiring to be Future Leaders

By International Federation for Peace and Sustainable Development (IFPSD)

For established or emerging women executives, taking charge of women leadership development becomes vital for continuous personal and professional growth. The Women Leaders Program leverages the ground-breaking research at the Center for Leadership, and draws from best practices and the depth of experience of veteran women leaders, to create a program designed to advance the leadership capacity of professional women.

Sally Kader the co-founder and president of the International Federation for Peace & Sustainable Development moderated the event with a panel of successful women in business that shared their experience and knowledge for success.

Gender, Economic Policy and Women’s Human Rights: Tackling Discrimination to Strengthen Social Protection, Increase Access to Services and Transform Systems

By Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

The United Nations Working Group on discrimination against women in law and in practice (WGDAW) has noted that discriminatory legislation in a number of States continues to obstruct women’s enjoyment of equal rights and access to economic opportunity and resources. The roles and responsibilities assigned to women and men on the basis of stereotypes relegate women to a subordinate status and limit their economic opportunities.

The main objective of the panel was to generate a discussion about the importance of tackling discrimination against women in order to strengthen social protection and access to health and education services, which will require closer examination of the crucial links between gender, macroeconomic policy and women’s human rights, and consideration of the critical role of international human rights mechanisms and UN agencies, in facilitating transformation with support from civil society.

What cultural change is needed to consign sexual harassment to the dustbin of history?

By UN Women

In line with 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, UN Women supports efforts to prevent and respond to violence, including addressing sexual harassment. As an institution born from the demand of women’s and feminist movements, it supports and adds to their efforts to achieve gender equality, end discrimination and violence. It is time to project into the future and reflect on the world we want to build together. Large scale transformation is essential if sexual harassment is truly to be eliminated: hence the focus on cultural change Ensuring the safety of women and girls in private and public spaces is a foundational aspect of gender equality and is at the core of UN Women’s mandate and work. It is obvious that poverty, unemployment, lack of socioeconomic opportunities, lack of social protection, pervasive gender inequality and violence, discrimination, marginalization and persistent demand are among the underlying causes that make women and girls vulnerable to human trafficking.

 Why Slavery? Film Screening (Mail in Hell by Søren Klovborg)

By The Why

Can an employment system hide a reality of torture and humiliation? Maid in Hell gives a glimpse into the common-place reality of harassment, abuse, rape and 18-hour work days which migrant domestic.

What drives the gender gap in science, technology and innovation and how do we close it?

By UNESCO, Permanent Mission of Finland and GenderInSITE

Science and gender equality are both vital for the achievement of the Sustainable Developments Goals(SDGs). UNESCO is playing a key role in taking up these issues and in promoting women and girls in and for science through initiatives. This side event provided a comprehensive set of innovative approaches, tested good practices and policy guidance around supporting the inclusion of gender equality, attracting more women to science and showing the pathways to success.

Women’s empowerment and the link to sustainable development

The sixty-third session of the Commission addressed as its priority theme ‘Social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls’. In addition, it evaluated progress in the implementation of the agreed conclusions from the sixtieth session (2016) on ‘Women’s empowerment and the link to sustainable development.

The promotion and protection of, and respect for, the human rights and fundamental freedoms of women, including the right to development, which are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated, should be mainstreamed into all policies and program aimed at the eradication of poverty. In 2015, UN leaders pledged to continue the work of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)2 with new goals for 2016-2030- called the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which address the factors necessary to eliminate war and achieve peace.

2 In 2000, UN leaders of 189 countries made a commitment to eight 15-year goals – called the Millennium Development Goals.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), otherwise known as the Global Goals, are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. These 17 Goals build while including new areas such as climate change, economic inequality, innovation, sustainable consumption, peace and justice, among other priorities. The goals are interconnected often the key to success on one will involve tackling issues more commonly associated with another.

The CSW63 reiterates that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development needs to be implemented in a comprehensive manner, reflecting its universal, integrated and indivisible nature, taking into account different national realities, capacities and levels of development and respecting each country’s policy space and leadership while remaining consistent with relevant international rules and commitments, including by developing cohesive sustainable development strategies to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. The Commission affirms that Governments have the primary responsibility for the follow-up to and review of the 2030 Agenda at the national, regional and global levels with regard to progress made.


UN Commission on the Status of Women delivered roadmap on ensuring women’s social protection, mobility, safety, and access to economic opportunities.

After two weeks of intense dialogue, the 63rd session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW63) concluded with a strong commitment by UN Member States to safe guard and improve women’s and girls’ access to social protection systems, public services and sustainable infrastructure, ensuring that their design and delivery is transformed to prevent discrimination.

The outcome of the two-week meeting, known as the Agreed Conclusions, adopted by Member States, puts forth concrete measures to bolster the voice, agency and leadership of women and girls as beneficiaries and users of social protection systems, public services and sustainable infrastructure.

Key recommendations from the Agreed Conclusions include the following:

Invest in social protection, public services and sustainable infrastructure to support the productivity of women’s work, including in the informal economy;

Ensure that progress in women’s access to social protection, public services and sustainable infrastructure is not undermined by budget cuts and austerity measures, and levels of protection previously achieved are not reversed;

Build on multilateral commitments to gender equality, including the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the ILO Social Protection Floors Recommendation, 2012 (No. 202), to strengthen access to social protection, public services and infrastructure for all women and girls;

Recognize, reduce and redistribute unpaid care and domestic work by ensuring access to social protection for unpaid caregivers of all ages, including coverage for health care and pensions;

Scale up investment in quality public care services that are affordable and gender-responsive;

Identify and remove barriers to women’s and girls’ access to public services, such as physical distance, lack of information and decision-making power, stigma and discrimination;

Guarantee the availability of safe and affordable drinking water and sanitation, including for menstrual hygiene, in homes, schools, refugee camps and other public places;

Ensure that transport policies and planning are sustainable, accessible, affordable, safe and gender-responsive, taking into account the different needs of women and men, and adapted to be used by persons with disabilities and older persons;

Promote the full and equal participation and leadership of women and women’s organizations in policy dialogues and decision-making relating to social protection systems, public services and sustainable infrastructure;

Strongly condemn the impunity and lack of accountability rooted in historical and structural inequality that accompanies pervasive violence against women.

For more information:




Author: Nancy Panitch

Traveling has been a passion of Nancy Panitch's life and she loves seeing how people in other cultures live. Her travels have taken her to many places within the United States, Asia, Europe, South America, and Africa. Being around people inspires her and she has much gratitude for the kindred Souls that are joining together with her in body, mind, and heart. She moved from Chicago to Portland, Oregon in 1982. It was one of the best decisions of her life. While in Portland she stays very, VERY busy. She volunteers (Inter-Religious Action Network, Human Rights Council, & ushering for various theaters); attends a Unitarian Universalist church; goes hiking with groups (Cascade Prime Timers & Trails Club of Oregon) and also with individual friends. Book groups, movie group, and bridge groups occupy her time as well. Her quiet activities include yoga, knitting, Sudoku, and reading. She enjoys all of these activities, but making time to see her wonderful 4 grandchildren takes priority over it all. She is happy to share this blog and hopes to encourage others to travel.

One thought on “Tehran 4/24

  1. Lovely. Buen Camino


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