Written by Facia Harris and Monika Biswas

On the 9th of March 2010, members of Ecumenical Women started the day with a worship service at the United Nations Church Center that centered around reflections on the story of Deborah.

The church members together affirmed that:

  • We are women created in the image of God, fearfully and wonderfully made.
  • We affirm that all women are created in the image of God.
  • We claim our voices and dare to tell our stories while uplifting the stories of others.
  • We claim our agency in political discourse.
  • We claim our responsibility to challenge oppressive systems.
  • We claim our power, our beauty, and our hope.
  • We affirm that we are called by God to be leaders and prophets, witnesses to God’s love and justice in the world.

Jointly, the congregation was asked to anoint their neighbor by placing a circle of oil on their neighbor’s hand while saying:  “You are called by God.”  We, Monica and Facia, members of the World Student Christian Federation (WSCF), realized that the oil symbolically affirmed our mission and our advocacy roles within society. After that, everyone went to different missions and conferences that were taking place in the United Nations Church Center, the Salvation Army and United Nations.

Monica along with an eight-member delegation representing Ecumenical Women had a meeting at the Seychelles Embassy. The meeting was part of an ongoing advocacy effort focused on the three main interventions that had been developed by Ecumenical Women for CSW 54.  In one word, it can be said that the visit to the Seychelles’ embassy was simply a success because the ambassador was very hospitable and sincerely explained and listened to our questions and concerns about women in Seychelles.  Some of the topics covered were women’s empowerment, domestic violence and churches’ roles in assisting those that have been violated either by their husbands, families or society.

Aside from the mission visits, a capturing side event, “Violence against women in Nigeria,” was organized by the Nigerian Consortium.  The points that were highlighted and fully discussed were: rape, trafficking of women and children, girl-child gender violence and documentation of violence against women in Nigeria.  One of the speakers provided very vivid and horrifying cases with pictures, from across Nigeria, of women who suffered from violence. The discussion also highlighted that Nigeria has a high rate of trafficking in women and girls to Europe and the Middle East, in addition to internal trafficking. 

 

One of the traumatic experiences involved a Nigerian lady.  After giving birth to twins, she had to receive an injection by the doctor on her buttocks.  As soon as her husband found out another man had seen part of his wife’s body, he cut off her leg.  What an injustice and violence!!!!!!  Reflect upon this issue.  How would you have felt if you were in this woman’s position???

Another example was of a young female university student.  While taking part in a national service program, she and two-year-old toddler were reportedly raped and killed by eighteen-year-old boy.

These were some of the horrifying and emotional cases that were shared by the presenters during the conference.  From the telling of these particular stories rapidly emerged a women’s movement to advocate and create awareness on sexual and gender-based violence.

We have shared some of the challenging and real experiences that we had during the day, which deeply reflect our shared common interest regarding the Beijing Platform for Action, adopted in 1995 at the Fourth World Conference for Women in Beijing China, as an agenda for women’s empowerment.

Tomorrow we will start a new day, continuing in our work with renewed strength for social justice advocacy.

Now, we leave you, the reader, to reflect on the importance of partnership and collective effort in the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action.