Eight LDS women are heading to the Habitat III conference in Ecuador on Wednesday to represent Provo-based Big Ocean, which has been promoting faith, family, maternal feminism and motherhood in United Nations settings and home cottage meetings since 2014.
Habitat III is the United Nations conference on housing and sustainable urban development and will be held Oct. 17–20 in Quito, Ecuador. It is one of the largest world conferences ever held and will largely dictate the next 20 years of international soft law related to family, cities, urban development and sustainability.
“Big Ocean is attending to better understand the global discussion and inform themselves of current trends, as well as to share their message that women of faith who embrace family and motherhood are the most critical change agents in the world and can greatly impact communities, cities, and the world for good,” says Provo’s Carolina Allen, founder of Big Ocean.
The eight women are also partnering with Days For Girls and Choice Humanitarian organizations serve among the people of Ecuador.
The official delegation includes Ann Takasaki, Spanish Fork, Utah; Erika Decaster, Tucson, Arizona; Dana Robb, South Jordan, Utah; Kim Landeen, South Jordan, Utah; Vilma Sagebin, Independence, Missouri; Amanda Wilkinson, Lindon, Utah; Jillaire McMillan, Sunnyvale, California; and Marisa Johnson, Eagle Mountain, Utah.
Other Big Ocean members who have attended UN meetings in the past are supporting the delegation from home with social media, prayers, and logistical preparations that have been ongoing for months.
Habitat 2 was held 20 years ago in Istanbul, Turkey. The outcome documents related to that 1996 meeting mentation the family in more then 20 full-length paragraphs.
“Flash forward 20 years, and the family is mentioned only once, and it’s in a remote way when promoting ‘family-friendly parks and recreational spaces,’” Allen says. “The outcome of this upcoming event, Habitat III, will influence the world for the next 20 years, and we feel strongly that the family needs to be included in the world’s plans for success in the years ahead.”
“The outcome of this event will influence the world for the next 20 years, and we feel strongly that the family needs to be included in the world’s plans for success in the years ahead.” —Carolina Allen, Big Ocean founder
Partners who are attending and working closely with Big Ocean include Brigitte Morales and Fernando and Nancy Carrera from the Magno organization. In addition, those participating in Big Ocean’s presentation in Ecuador include Dr. George Handley, associate dean of Humanities at BYU, who is lending expertise to “help establish common ground between the important efforts of sustainability and the need to strengthen the family and ennoble women.” Big Ocean is also partnering with Raquel Tuston, who is the Ecuador Director of CHOICE Humanitarian. Utah County-based Launfal Foundation provided 100 school bags, 100 handmade dolls and wooden toys for humanitarian efforts in Quito this week.
The Big Ocean delegation — along with other local pro-family groups such as Sustainable Families and the Howard Center — will encourage U.N. delegates and dignitaries to create laws and verbiage that strengthens the family. Big Ocean and other organizations worked to secure speaking opportunities at the conference. Official speaking and event requests were denied by the organizers of Habitat III to all family-focused organizations from the pro-family network.
“The Habitat III organizers denied Big Ocean and many other pro-family groups an opportunity to speak at the meeting. Therefore, the pro-family groups from Utah had to secure their own venue for their presentation,” Allen says. “But we won’t be deterred. This is what our movement is all about — speaking up and leading out in positive, articulate and happy ways. People of faith, mothers, fathers and their families have so much to offer the world. Our influence for good is truly generational and sustainable. It cannot be erased.”
Big Ocean is also planning to attend the U.N.’s Commission on the Status of Women in New York City in 2017, where they will host pro-family events and meet with delegates, ambassadors, pro-family groups and others to learn more and to share the message that family capital is one of the keys to the world’s economic and social concerns.
If you are interested in following their Ecuador journey, follow Big Ocean Women on Twitter and Instagram. The group also encourages the hashtag #familycapital when sharing social media photos of families as they serve, grow, learn and play together.