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“Prayer” by Julia Esquivel

You illuminate our darkness
And fill our sadness
With hope.

Because you are stronger than I,
I have let myself be a captive,
And your love burns in my heart.

The thirst for your truth
Has made me a pilgrim
From city to city
Until the day your Word
Is fulfilled,
And we are reborn
In your image and likeness

Captivate me, Lord
Till the last of my days,
Wring out my heart
With your hands,
Of a wise old Indian,
So that I will not forget
Your Justice
Nor cease proclaiming
The urgent need
For humankind
To live in harmony.

Read more of our Ecumenical Women Worship resources.

At the opening session of the United Nations High-Level Event on the Millennium Development Goals in New York last Thursday, the founder of India’s Self-Employed Women’s Association told the assembled heads of state that

Poverty is powerlessness. Poverty cannot be removed unless the poor have power to make decisions that affect their lives… Let us remind ourselves that in committing to the Millennium Development Goals, we are in fact pledging to become partners with the poor.

Ela Bhatt is a member of the Elders, an “independent group who offer their skills and experience to support peaceful resolution to conflicts, to articulate new approaches to global issues that cause human suffering, and to share wisdom by helping to connect voices all over the world.”

Read more about Ela Bhatt at the United Nations.

I spent the last week in Papua New Guinea – not something I ever expected to do! With over 800 languages, communication in PNG is fascinating. There is no internet and even phones are hard to come by, a few cell phones are here and there. Most people I met promised to write me – as in a letter. We will see how that goes.

I went to PNG as an invited guest to a Lutheran women’s conference. Colonized by Germans, more than one-fifth of the country is Lutheran. One of the key features of the conference was a bible study called “Jesus Liberates women in PNG from male dominated cultures”.

Growing up, Pastor Michael, a seminary professor, watched his mother suffer in a polygamous marriage. His father, a “bigman” would force ably take the pigs she raised so that he could enjoy a high status in the community, beating her if necessary. When menstruating, women were (and still are in some places) secluded, and some believe that even the food they touch is contaminated so they are no allowed to cook meals. After the age of 13, Michael was discouraged from spending time with his mother. Because of a tradition called the “Bride price” -similar to a dowry- women cannot divorce their husbands because their family is expected to pay the money back. By paying for their wives, it encourages a culture where many men consider their wives a possession. Even though she was often beaten by her husband, his sister was unable to divorce him because of the culture and eventually committed suicide.

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UNIFEM released yesterday its biannual global report, Progress of the World’s Women 2008/2009, “Who Answers To Women: Gender and Accountability”.

From the press release:

The new report is being published at the halfway point to the 2015 deadline for achieving the MDG’s and six days before the Secretary-General of the UN will convene a High Level Meeting to examine the world’s progress towards meeting the MDG’s.

“Progress” presents new data providing clear evidence that women’s empowerment and gender equality are drivers for reducing poverty, building food security, reducing maternal mortality, strengthening justice, and enhancing the effectiveness of aid.

Download the report, or learn what it says by checking out the interactive feature on their website.  Either way, you’ll be gaining valuable material.

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  • New UN data shows need for urgent action to end female genital mutilation, child marriage
    New data released today by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) shows the need for urgent action to end female genital mutilation and child marriage – two practices that affect millions of girls across the globe.
    UN News Centre
  • Woman Alone: The fight for survival by Syria's refugee women
    There are nearly 150,000 Syrian refugee women who are single-handedly providing for their families. Read their extraordinary stories of loss and resilience.
    UNHCR

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