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With the opening of the 58th UN Commission on the Status of Women only a few days away, Ecumenical Women is sharing stories written by US National Council of Churches/Church Women United delegates to last year’s CSW. Today’s piece comes from Lindsey Queener. Be sure to check our website frequently as we begin posting videos, pictures and written reflections from EW’s CSW Orientation tomorrow.
Getting the opportunity to be a part of this year’s NCC/CWU delegation to the UNCSW was a huge honor and privilege. The experience was incredibly rich, informative, and filled with valuable participation and networking. The commitment to inter-generational engagement was evident and respected. I felt that my voice was heard and taken seriously, making the experience even more valuable for me and helpful in discerning further pursuing my vocation. Because of this opportunity, I was able to be a part some incredibly rich international, inter-generational, multi-lingual worship services, meet some amazing people in the delegation and outside, participate in official UN events, and have a completely unforgettable experience. I couldn’t be more grateful and appreciative. I hope I will get to participate in the UNCSW for years to come!
With the opening of the 58th UN Commission on the Status of Women only a few days away, Ecumenical Women is sharing stories written by US National Council of Churches/Church Women United delegates to last year’s CSW. Today’s piece comes from Jennifer Bailey. Be sure to check our website frequently as we post additional inspiring stories and prepare for EW’s CSW Orientation this Saturday.
Arms linked they came from countries across the globe-woman, mujer, sistah. On airplanes and buses, cars and trains, they traveled with the harsh reality of violence against women nipping at their heels yet they boldly marched forward. Their footsteps guided them to the 57th United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. 6,000 strong their mission was clear: Eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls and demand that it be done now. It is in this midst of this historical moment that the CWC/NCC delegation gathered. Women diverse in background, but not in their passion for God and commitment to ensuring that all people, regardless of gender flourish. Over a few short days, we built a sisterhood with each other and women from around the globe. We realized that we are not alone in the fight for gender justice. Because of the generosity of Church Women United and the National Council of Churches each of the young women who attended the conference can say that we were present at the moment the world changed for the better.
With the opening of the 58th UN Commission on the Status of Women only a few days away, Ecumenical Women is sharing stories written by US National Council of Churches/ Church Women United delegates to last year’s CSW. Today’s piece comes from a young adult educator named Heather Dean. Be sure to check our website frequently as we post additional inspiring stories and prepare for EW’s CSW Orientation this Saturday.
Thank you so much for your support of the Church Women United/National Council of Churches Delegation to the 57th Commission on the Status of Women. It was a life-changing experience that I continue to take with me and share with those in my community. My eyes have been opened to all of the ways violence manifests itself against women throughout our world, from domestic violence in the home, to how women and children are impacted disproportionately in conflict regions. Violence to me now also includes the structural inequalities which violently impact women such as the difficulties women face when striving for an education. Though I learned many alarming facts about the state of women’s rights and safety in the world, I also was empowered by hearing the stories of how so many are working against violence. The solutions are as diverse as the problems, but over and over again education rose to the top as an essential tool to combat violence. Coming in, I may have conceived of education as a teacher at the head of a classroom in front of young students. However, my experience at CSW has taught me that often education can come in the form of conversations with friends bringing stories out of the shadows, or even compelling soap operas that spark conversations about violence in the community.
After discussing the story of the woman who anointed Jesus with fellow young delegates in a contextualized bible study, I will remember to not stay silent, especially about the violence I witness, and I would urge you to do the same. Rather than coming out of the CSW experience disheartened about the violence that occurs in the war on women in each country of the world, I feel empowered by the stories and energy shared by my fellow participants. Worshiping with women from all corners of the globe formed a symbolic sisterhood for me that I have taken home, along with many new friends as well. I am so thankful to have been able to meet the members of my delegation as well as our mentors, without whom the experience would have had much less laughter and many more tears. I will be eternally grateful for this experience and hope to be able to travel back in future years.
CSW58′s priority theme will be “Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for women and girls,” and with that priority theme in mind, Ecumenical Women will focus over the next few months on educating our online community about the MDGs and current conversations around what will follow their completion in a post-2015 development agenda.
As April 5th marked the 1,000-day milestone until the 2015 target date to achieve the MDGs, faith leaders from around the world (including some representing EW member organizations), released the following statement urging Heads of Government to fulfill existing commitments to spend 0.7% of national income on aid (related to MDG 8), among other actions. For news coverage and a full list of signatories, click here.
Today marks the start of the 1000 day countdown to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the 2015 deadline. It is an appropriate moment to pause and to reflect on progress to date. Development is working. But challenges remain. The number of people living in extreme poverty has been halved ahead of time and 14,000 fewer children die each day than in 1990. Yet 1 in 8 people still go to bed hungry every night and over 2 million die of malnutrition each year. Even as conversations accelerate as to what ought to replace the MDGs, we should not slacken our efforts towards realising existing goals. Meeting the remaining targets, while challenging, is possible – but only if governments do not waiver from the moral and political commitments made over a decade ago.
Thirteen years on from the start of the Millennium the values and principles that drive these goals are as imperative as ever. The financial crisis may be a reason but is not an excuse for hesitation or deferral. The MDGs remind us that in addition to providing for the well being of our own societies, we have a collective responsibility to uphold human dignity and the common good at the global level. Each individual has a value that can never be lost and must never be ignored.
With a focus on tax, trade and transparency, the UK Presidency of the G8 this year has the potential to advance the MDG agenda in ways that strike at the underlying causes of poverty, in particular by ensuring the wealth created by developing countries is not lost through unfair tax practices, a lack of transparency or a failure to secure the benefits of trade for developing countries.
As religious leaders from across the G8 we recommend that our Heads of Government take the following actions when they meet in June. First, fulfill existing commitments to spend 0.7% of national income on aid. Secondly, launch a G8 Convention on Tax Transparency committing signatory countries to prevent individuals and companies from hiding wealth so that it’s untraceable. Thirdly, press for greater financial transparency from governments of developing countries so that the citizens of these countries can hold their governments to account for the money they spend. Reaching a purposeful consensus on these areas won’t be easy. But, if the political will and moral leadership is forthcoming, this year’s G8 could help to create an environment that encourages the conditions for inclusive, equitable and sustainable economic growth – conditions that are desperately needed if we are to realise the MDGs and even greater things beyond.
With this year’s Commission on the Status of Women over and its Agreed Conclusions (in English) now finalized, Ecumenical Women is beginning to prepare for next year’s commission, CSW58. Although it is only in its initial planning stages, we do know that CSW58′s priority theme will be “Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for women and girls.” With that priority theme in mind, Ecumenical Women will focus over the next few months on educating our online community about the MDGs and current conversations around what will follow their completion in a post-2015 development agenda.
While there is a lot out there on the MDGs and the post-2015 development agenda, the following resources should provide you with a basic entry point for learning more about the topic. Be sure to check back here on our site frequently for videos, graphics, reports and other resources that discuss the MDGs and the post-2015 development agenda in more detail, particularly how they relate to women and girls.
An introductory video on the MDGs and how they were formed:
As April 5th, 2013 marked the 1,000-day milestone until the 2015 target date to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, the UN has launched the #MDGmomentum campaign. For more info, click on the following infographic (and then share it with others on social media):
And finally, here are a few additional links to great resources on the MDGs and the post-2015 development agenda. Some of these will be explored further in future posts:
- A Gateway to the UN System’s Work on the MDGs
- Millennium Campaign
- UN Women’s #MDGmomentum Page
- ONE’s MDG Page
- MY World (a basic global survey on your priorities for the post-2015 development agenda)
- The World We Want 2015 (a platform for more in-depth discussion on the post-2015 development agenda)
Want to learn more about how Faith-Based Organizations interact with the United Nations? On Monday, 29 April, 2013 at 6:00p EDT, please tune in to “Our Sacred Journey, ” hosted by Audrey E. Kitagawa for her interview with Dr. Azza Karam, Senior Cultural Advisor to the United Nations Population Fund. Dr. Karam (see right) has worked with many Ecumenical Women member organizations in the past, and is always an extremely insightful and compelling speaker. For a link to the online broadcast, click here. An abstract on the programme follows:
Communities of faith have long played an important role in the implementation of development programs administered by the United Nations and its respective agencies in developing countries. The majority of the world’s peoples are adherents to a faith tradition, so faith-based organizations are important potential partners. Within the past several years, the United Nations has made major shifts in acknowledging partnerships with faith communities which include the creation of the International Recognition of Day of Vesak, the Tripartite Forum on Interfaith Cooperation for Peace, Alliance of Civilizations, and the World Interfaith Harmony Week. Dr. Azza Karam, Senior Cultural Advisor to the United Nations Population Fund, discusses her assessment of the role of faith with the United Nations, and its strengths, as well as challenges.
In honour of International Women’s Day, The Tony Blair Faith Foundation, in collaboration with Washington Post On Faith, released a blog series entitled Is religion good for women? A fine example of the work from this series is the embedded video below from Grace Lee Baughan of the Faith and Global Engagement Initiative at Hong Kong University. If you find Grace’s video helpful, you can check out the entire series from experts around the world here.
The diverse opinions expressed in the Is religion good for women? series do not necessarily represent the views of Ecumenical Women, but rather are provided simply as a resource for our readers.
24 April is World YWCA Day! To learn more about the World YWCA, an Ecumenical Women member organization, check out the video below:
How wonderful it was to be with you all in New York City earlier this spring. Especially wonderful was the outcome of the Commission: reaching Agreed Conclusions! You can read the Agreed Conclusions (available in all six UN languages) here. Our advocacy team has also prepared a document about the outcomes directly related to the Ecumenical Women advocacy talking points we spent so much energy promoting—language relating to all three of our priority themes was included! You can find that document here.
This is a great success, and it is just the beginning. If you haven’t already, take some time to read through the Agreed Conclusions and identify the areas where your government needs to take action. Share the story of your participation at the UN CSW and use the Agreed Conclusions as the basis for advocacy work at home.
How are you using what you learned at the CSW in your home country, region, or neighborhood? We’d love to hear about it! Send an email with your follow-up story to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will post it on the Ecumenical Women blog: www.ecumenicalwomen.org. The stories, reflections and videos posted on our blog during CSW are good resources too; think about how you might be able to use them in your own context to tell about the CSW.
As we continue to lift up the priorities of the 57th CSW, we are also preparing for the 58th. Soon, we will be asking for your input on specific themes related to the topic of CSW58, “Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls.” Visit http://www.worldwewant2015.org/ to learn more and share your point of view!
Although we are scattered around the world, we remain connected by our prayers and actions to bring about a world in which women and men, girls and boys, can live into the full expression of God’s creation.
With you in hope,
Rev. Meagan Manas
Chair, Ecumenical Women at the United Nations
An interview with Keti Zazanashvili, a young adult delegates to the 57th Commission on the Status of Women. Keti discusses her experience at CSW57 and the role of dance in her work to eliminate violence against women and girls.
The “advanced unedited” version of agreed conclusions on the 57th Commission on the Status of Women have been posted on the CSW57 website and can be found here. Agreed conclusions were adopted on the CSW57 priority theme, “the elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls” on 15 March 2013.
The World Council of Churches (a member organization of Ecumenical Women) delivered an oral statement at the fifty-seventh session of the Commission on the Status of Women on 13 March 2013. Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri, WCC Associate General Secretary, spoke on behalf of the Council. Check out a transcript of the statement below:
The World Council of Churches, a global fellowship of churches with a total membership of 580 million wrote in March 1992 to the Secretary General of the United Nations, “In various international fora, women are urging the United Nations to recognize that violence against women constitutes the violation of the basic human rights of half the world’s population. As Christians we support these initiatives, guided by the firm conviction that all human beings are made in the image of God and deserve protection and care.”
In a statement prepared for the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995, the World Council of Churches said:
“It has been painful for us to acknowledge that institutions which should stand in solidarity with women, including governments and the churches, have not often responded with resolute action. We encounter, through our contact with women at the periphery of all our societies, the struggle for dignity and livelihood that women engage in every day. We believe that empowerment is not possible as long as women live in contexts of violence, often exacerbated by cultural and religious tradition.”
It was also said:
“We draw the attention to the liberating power of religions and we affirm the positive and supportive role that the churches and other religious institutions can play in standing in solidarity with those women who have to make ethical choices and decisions regarding their sexual and reproductive rights. But of equal concern to the World Council of Churches is the increasing religious extremism in all faiths and the deleterious consequences this has on women’s legal, political and social rights.”
These statements were made two decades ago, but they are still valid and highly relevant in relation to the work of the Commission on the Status of Women today. Now, more than ever, it is necessary to reiterate that women’s rights are human rights, and that human rights are universal. Traditional values or religious beliefs cannot justify the acceptance of violence against women, nor can they be accepted as limitations on women’s rights and freedom. Women as well as men are created in the image of God and deserve to be respected, protected, and cared for. It is necessary for member states to agree upon and protect strong international frameworks. Civil society, including the faith based community, has an important role to challenge attitudes and traditions that contribute to undermining women’s rights and dignity. We the peoples of the United Nations have a shared responsibility to protect, defend, and expand women’s rights and freedom.
Agreed conclusions at #CSW57 have been reached! We give thanks for the careful discernment and work of everyone involved. #EcuWomenCSW
While most men still wrestle with the concept of gender equality and gender balance, a network of Rwanda “MenEngage” believes that a “new positive masculine identity is needed, one that does not depend on superiority over women.” I am happy to know that men are getting together to form a movement that is fighting the ideas that lead to GBV.
More on creating positive masculinity, The Men’s Story Project is an organization based in California that works with men on break the silence. When I first hear what this woman was doing was quick to judge because it seemed like it was taking the focus away from the reason we were there, VAW not men. However, the more I listened and with the videos of the men telling their stories, I was so glad that someone was working with me. We saw some videos of men telling their stories through poems, songs acts, and this made them talk about things that might have hurt them when they were children, violence that happened to their mothers, something that may still happen to them or things they have done to others due to social, economic class or sexual orientation. This project is a good reminder to society that violence against women (VAW) does not only affect women, but also their children, and those children can grow up to be violent on other women in their lives.
This was an amazing experience for me. I am very grateful to have been part of it, thanks to the LWF Women in Church and Society desk and the Lutheran Office for World Community for giving me this opportunity and thanks to all the women and men who are working hand in hand to end this horrific epidemic. Violence against women should be eradicated, and it will take girls and boys, women and men working together. Let’s all together break the silence, take a step towards education and don’t let anyone tell you “you can’t” because you are a woman. Together we can…
An interview with Sophy Kengoo and Haley Mills, two young adult delegates to the 57th Commission on the Status of Women. Sophy and Haley discuss their experience at the CSW and the role of dance in their work to eliminate violence against women and girls.