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How a Former Young Women General Leader Continues to Serve in Her New Role at the United Nations

Sister Carol F. McConkie and her husband, Elder Oscar W. McConkie III, are pictured inside the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. They have served as government affairs missionaries for the Church since April 2019. Photo courtesy of Carol McConkie, courtesy of Church News.All rights reserved.

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By Sydney Walker, Church News

As a member of the Young Women General Presidency, Sister Carol F. McConkie taught women and girls worldwide of their divine heritage, worth and potential and the importance of standing together in the cause of Christ.

“May we choose to serve a righteous cause as valiant emissaries of our Lord Jesus Christ,” she declared during the October 2015 general women’s session.

In April 2019, Sister McConkie and her husband, Elder Oscar W. McConkie III, were called to serve as government affairs missionaries for the Church at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland — where Sister McConkie has continued to serve women and girls in her cause as an emissary of the Savior.

Sister McConkie was recently elected vice president of the NGO Committee on the Status of Women, Geneva. This nongovernmental organization committee, which has consultative status with the U.N. Economic and Social Council, promotes gender equality and the empowerment and defense of the rights of women and girls worldwide.

“It has been an absolute privilege to try to represent the Savior as I participate and interact with others,” Sister McConkie said.

“I have always known intellectually that we are beloved sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father, and that He loves us. But I really know that now.”

Sister Carol F. McConkie, middle left, and her husband, Elder Oscar W. McConkie III, are pictured with Presiding Bishop Gérald Caussé and Sister Sharon Eubank of Latter-day Saint Charities, as Latter-day Saint Charities sponsored its first United Nations side event in Geneva, Switzerland, in September 2019. Photo courtesy of Carol McConkie, courtesy of Church News.All rights reserved.

NGO Committee on the Status of Women, Geneva

Since their call as government affairs missionaries at the United Nations, Elder and Sister McConkie have worked to build bridges with diplomats and nongovernmental organization committees. Though they returned to Salt Lake City in March 2020 due to COVID-19 precautions, they have continued to serve from home.

One of the committees Sister McConkie joined was the NGO Committee on the Status of Women, Geneva, which includes representatives from various organizations working together for the defense of women’s rights — “in other words, to be able to enjoy some of the privileges of food security, clean water, the opportunity to work and to make a living, to get an education,” Sister McConkie said. “So many women in the world simply do not have those privileges.”

Elder McConkie said Sister McConkie’s ability to convey her strong values with love and compassion soon caught the attention of others on the committee, and her name was added to the ballot for the next election.

“She’s able to connect with others as brothers and sisters, no matter what their persuasions or opinions are. And yet, she’s bold in her beliefs and she gives wise counsel,” he said.

In her new role as vice president, Sister McConkie will work closely with Carolyn Handschin, president of the committee and vice president of the Women’s Federation for World Peace International. The election as vice president is a three-year term.

“I just think that the Lord directed it,” Elder McConkie said of Sister McConkie’s new position. “And I think now, Latter-day Saint Charities will have a strong voice in a higher place.”

Sister McConkie described the opportunity to work with the committee as “humbling.”

“It’s really a wonderful opportunity to meet other women with different perspectives and different beliefs, amazingly different backgrounds, and find common ground and come together to work together,” she said.

One of the projects the committee is currently working on is preserving gender terminology — “making sure that terminology is in place so that when we’re discussing women’s rights, we are talking specifically about the needs of women and girls,” Sister McConkie explained.

“The language we use is important, especially when we’re petitioning for those things that we have need of. While we want to uphold the rights of every individual to receive their rights, we don’t want to minimize the fact or in any way dilute the need for women and girls.

“They’re the most vulnerable group, and so we want to be able to have the language to facilitate and to advocate for them.”

A Duty to Love and Serve

In the year they lived in Geneva, Elder and Sister McConkie met with nearly 100 ambassadors or their representatives. “The privilege that we had of getting to share with them the work of Latter-day Saint Charities in their countries was fabulous,” she said.

Elder Oscar W. McConkie III and Sister Carol F. McConkie stand with the ambassador of Iraq, Hussain M. Alkhateeb. Photo courtesy of Carol McConkie, courtesy of Church News.All rights reserved.

During one such meeting, they visited with the ambassador of Iran, His Excellency, Mr. Javad Amin-Mansour, who described the destitution of the Iranian people following natural disasters and severe flooding.

“When we walked out of that meeting, I had an overwhelming sense of the Spirit come distill upon me that said, ‘Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father love the Iranian people,’” Sister McConkie recalled.

“It’s true and I know it. And I know it because the Spirit taught me in a way that was very profound.”

Sister McConkie said that when Latter-day Saints truly understand divine worth — that all 7.6 billion people on Earth “are sons and daughters of Heavenly Parents who love them and who care about their eternal well-being just as much as ours” — “we have a duty to love and care for one another.”

That duty, she said, includes reaching out to alleviate suffering and provide opportunities for building lives of peace and prosperity, with loving family relationships at home — “where mothers can see their children grow and get an education … where children will not have to worry about being sent off to be married at an early age … or suffer violence in any way.”

Referencing President Russell M. Nelson’s address on “The Second Great Commandment,” Sister McConkie said: “That’s our message. As members of the Church, as disciples of Jesus Christ, this is what we do. We really do reach out and care for those that are struggling, temporally and spiritually.”

Sister Carol F. McConkie and Elder Oscar W. McConkie’s visit with the ambassador of Lesotho, Refiloe Litjobo, led to him and his family being baptized. Refiloe, left, his wife, Makananelo, and their daughter Kananelo were baptized March 8, 2020. Photo courtesy of Carol McConkie, courtesy of Church News.All rights reserved.

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