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Anastassia Zinke interviews Rev. Joyce Kariuki, acting general secretary of the Anglican Councils of Africa.
Was this your first time attending the Conference on the Status of Women (CSW)?
I have been here several times before. The last one I attended was the CSW focused on the Girl Child. I think this is the fourth time that I have attended a CSW. This year I was requested by the archbishop to come. They send someone yearly, but some years for personal reasons I have been unable to serve as the delegate.
What have you learned or taken away from this year’s CSW?
We cannot let the Beijing Platform for Action to be eclipsed by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), or be dropped as a tool in addressing women’s rights. We are far from achieving our goal. It is a struggle to keep this movement going, to achieve the empowerment of women. The Beijing Platform is useful to us though, because it reminds us and equips us to keep this struggle going. It helps articulate women’s issues. We can refer to it and make sure – through the use of the right language – that others understand.
What are the pressing issues that you see in Kenya? In the church?
Also, gender equity in the church needs to be addressed. We are far behind the governments in terms of gender equity. This will not do. The church ought to be the model for society. We also have to acknowledge the huge reach that we have. We reach everyone: girls, women, men, and boys. We have the ability to ensure that the message is being heard.
This can be complicated however. There is a debate that the girl-child has been promoted so much that the boy-child has been left behind. So now I include the boy-child, so that it is about holistic participation in change. However, we have not forgotten that that the child-girl has been in a difficult situation. We all have become involved, and help them become and stay students.
Another significant issue is domestic violence against women. When there is violence, a woman is reduced to nothing. We need to change this. The church has not been able to address this yet. During this conference, however, I heard a South African man talk about his work of leading men to address violence against women. Men themselves condemning the violence. They see that it is their issue. This is powerful and a model that I would like to see adopted in Kenya, so that men don’t push the issue aside.
In Kenya, we are changing the constitution. This presents a great possibility for women. We need to finish this process. Though we can critique the government, we cannot let this opportunity pass. We must recognize that we all function under the government, so we need to partner with the government to get the constitution to its the best stage.
Every year thousands of women and men from around the world gather in New York to join in the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. From policy makers to directors of NGO’s to people of faith, these women and men spend two weeks discussing, discovering, and deciding the ways in which the United Nations and its constituent bodies will approach questions of gender equality and women’s rights.
This weekend ten young adults from the Episcopal Church arrived in New York despite all types of transportation and weather related odds to begin a one-week journey through the 54th UN CSW. From all backgrounds, they come representing not only themselves but all young adults of the Episcopal Church. We invite you to engage them as they undertake this journey, to listen to their reflections, to ask them questions, to engage locally the dialogues they enter internationally, and above all, to hold them and the women they represent in prayer.
Please take a moment to learn more about these young women and men as they experience, explore, and advocate at the UN CSW 2010 over the next five days.
With great hope,
Jason Sierra & Karen Longenecker, Co-Conveners
The Civil Society Unit of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is moderating an on-line discussion on Women and Human Rights, focusing on issues of accountability and access to justice.
The discussion started on 1 February and will end on 28 February. Sub-themes are:
– National legal frameworks challenges, trends and best practices with respect to legal protection of women’s human rights (Week 1);
-Accountability challenges, trends and best practices with respect to ensuring accountability for violations of human rights of women, including violence against women (Week 2);
-Access to justice challenges, trends and best practices with respect to womens access to justice (Week 3);
-Summary, wrap-up and observations (Week 4).
Each week starts with a short introduction to the theme to trigger and encourage a constructive and fruitful on-line discussion, to be summarized and analyzed in order to contribute to the Beijing +15 review. The discussion is part of a series of United Nations online discussions dedicated to the fifteen-year review of the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995) and the outcomes of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly (2000); and is coordinated by WomenWatch, an inter-agency project of the United Nations Inter-agency Network on Women and Gender Equality.
The United Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) has launched a month-long online discussion on Women in Power and Decision-Making. Dedicated to the fifteen-year review of the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995), as well as outcomes of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly (2000), these discussions will be a contribution to the 54th session of the Commission on the Status of Women to take place 1-12 March 2010.
In preparation for the 54th session of CSW, which will review the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995, Ecumenical Women submitted a statement to the UN Secretary-General.
[We] affirm that God’s world was meant to be one of abundance for all persons, with fundamental rights and dignity for both women and men. Women, however, are disproportionately robbed of this abundance. We are called to challenge the gender bias of institutions and seek justice for those who are blocked by institutional barriers.
On workshops and conferences, EW learnt how Beijing 1995 had concrete impacts on women’s lifes. But despite these success stories, many goals of the Platform remain unfulfilled even after 15 years.
In it’s statement EW highlights five areas that are crucial for gender equality: Patriarchal understandings of gender, power and leadership; Violence against Women; Economic Barriers; Education and Training; Vulnerability of Marginalized Women and Girls. A greater commitment in these areas is necessary in order to meet all the Millennium Development Goals. Therefore EW urges the Commission, the UN, and it’s member states to undertake concrete steps for institutional change.