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With Rona Ambrose %28Minister of the Status of Women%29In an effort to share the voices and experiences of our delegates to #CSW57, the International Anglican Women’s Network (IAWN) in Canada has
started a blog. Posts include pieces written by delegates, photos, interesting links from parallel and side events, pieces from worship, advocacy updates and information that may be helpful for those working in grassroots organizations or official structures in their work relating to this year’s priority theme, that is the elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls. Some posts are more narrative, some colloquial, some personal and some academic – this diversity of voices is a product of the diversity of this group and we hope it makes this blog more accessible and interesting to the broad group of people of faith concerned with women’s empowerment.

To check out this amazing blog from an important Ecumenical Women partner, click here.  Ecumenical Women will occasionally cross-post pieces as well.

Rochelle in UN GA hall

by Rochelle Rawls-Shaw, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) delegate to CSW57; this was originally written as an email to her community at San Francisco Theological Seminary

I felt it was time to share with you all the exciting happenings and history-making things going on here at the United Nations. For the next two weeks, March 4-15,  women ( some 5,000 are registered, no one is absolutely certain how many will participate) will come to the UN for the 57th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). This year’s theme is the Elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls.

I’m part of the Presbyterian delegation which has over 70 people at this year’s Commission. This  includes girls and men from across the US. Our delegation is a member of the Ecumenical Women (EW) delegation which has over 200 people from different denominations and church organizations.

I attended two full days of orientation that began last Friday when the Presbyterian delegation met. Our delegation includes individuals from Presbyterian Women and Young Women’s Leadership Development as well as Presbyterians working to end violence against women and girls and PC(USA) national staff. As we fellowshiped, we shared information about our ministries and explored our purpose at CSW: to advocate for justice and equal rights for all women and girls around the world.

The EW orientation met Saturday. The day began with breaking bread together and included 2 worship services. I had a significant role in the worship service at the end of the day. I was the narrator/storyteller in the story/presentation on the story of Jepthah. It was awesome!

Every day for the next two weeks of the CSW, EW delegates begin the day by worshiping together in the chapel at the Church Center for the United Nations. Each represented denomination or church organization is responsible for preparing one worship experience focused on a biblical passages about women. I was responsible for leading the Presbyterian worship service on Tuesday. It included Presbyterian women from New Zealand. It was titled Laying Down The Stones. It was well attended and a blessing to all who were present.

There are planned marches all around the world for this Friday, March 8th – International Women’s Day. I will be there with our delegation as we march for justice and equality for all women and girls. I will be representing women, Presbyterian, and SFTS!

 

An Inter-generational conversation between two delegates to the 57th Commission on the Status of Women, Jennifer Bailey, a Church Women United and National Council of Churches and Fulata Moyo from the World Council of Churches.  Jennifer and Fulata discuss the corruption of sacred texts by some advocacy groups at the United Nations and the diversity of faith perspectives on gender rights.

The Advocacy Team has been hard at work this late afternoon and evening. Some have had to leave; some have come back.

Thanks to them all!

H.E. Marjon Kamara, Permanent Representative of Liberia to the United Nations and Chair of the fifty-sixth session of the Commission on the Status of Women welcomes everyone to this year’s session.

Note that the volume appears to be low

Harriet Tubman. Eleanor Roosevelt. Maggie Kuhn. Naomi Rose. Merdine T. Morris.

On this day – who are the women who have served as advocates for whom you give thanks?

Advocacy took central stage at the Ecumenical Women‘s Orientation. The afternoon workshops focused on advocacy and with good reason.

The “agreed conclusions” will be the primary outcome of the meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women. The 45 Member States of the Commission will create a set of concrete, action-oriented  recommendations for action by governments, intergovernmental bodies,  and other relevant stakeholders. These recommendations will call for implementation at the international, national, regional and local level. They will address the primary theme for the 56th Session of the Commission: “the empowerment of rural women and their role in poverty and hunger eradication, development and current challenges.”

We come to the Commission – representatives of the Ecumenical Women member organizations and other NGOs – to advocate for concepts, themes, and language to shape those agreed conclusions. In the case of Ecumenical Women, we do so guided by faith in Jesus Christ and the policies of our respective organizations.

As we advocate, we follow in the footsteps of our sisters who have gone before – we stand beside our sisters who live the struggle.

For whom do we give thanks this day and everyday?

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.

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View the entire album on Picasa.

All photos taken by Jennifer Becker.

The following Oral Statement was delivered to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women Fifty-fourth Session, on February 26, 2010 by Constance Mogale or Lana Finikin.

As organizations committed to partnering with Haitian women to ensure their effective participation in rebuilding Haiti, we call upon member governments and international humanitarian aid agencies present at the CSW to commit to actions that will ensure that all future relief, recovery and reconstruction investments declare and adhere to measurable standards of gender equality. In the current period of relief and temporary shelter, in the design and distribution of entitlements, and in the planning and rebuilding of infrastructure and development programs, we urge implementing actors to establish collaborative processes that are anchored in formal partnerships with Haitian women’s groups (particularly local grassroots groups) who are empowered and resourced to take public leadership in the protracted process of reconstruction.

As a coalition of groups and networks active in the global women’s movement we will partner with Haitian women’s groups to ensure that equitable, transparent, and socially just standards are adhered to in all phases of recovery and will regularly monitor:

Participation: Haitian women are disproportionately impacted by the crisis as well as key to their country’s recovery. Thus we expect to see a large and diverse number of Haitian women’s organizations consulted and included in needs and damage assessments, and in the design, implementation and monitoring and evaluation of post-disaster aid programs. Financing large numbers of grassroots women and their community organizations is essential to ensuring that — women’s needs and priorities are reflected in relief and recovery and that displaced women are socially legitimated as a key stakeholder group.

Leadership: The legacy of Haitian women’s leadership at home, in workplaces and across communities is a strong foundation for designing, implementing and evaluating long-term recovery as well as continuing aid. Women’s leadership and care-giving work should be recognized and supported by policy and program mandates and transparent resource commitments that enable women to play meaningful, sustained and formal roles in the long-term recovery process. And, as social and political leadership positions are restored or created Haitian women must hold a proportional share.

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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

by Frederick Clarkson, first published in the WomensENews commentator on February 24, 2010

A religious think tank has issued a manifesto about breaking the silence in religious communities about a host of sexuality issues. It hasn’t stirred much media attention, but Frederick Clarkson thinks it could be revolutionary.

(WOMENSENEWS)–The Religious Institute has just issued a 46-page report on the state of sexuality in religious communities and a manifesto that seeks to transform the status quo.

Goals include improved pastoral care of marital relationships, domestic abuse and infertility, and training for prospective clergy in sexuality-related matters.

The institute calls for religious leaders to provide lifelong age-appropriate education for youth and adults and to become more effective advocates for comprehensive sexuality education and sexual and reproductive health in society.

Clergy are often first responders in matters of domestic violence and potential (and actual) suicides by young people struggling with sexual identity. The Religious Institute points out that these first responders have usually received little to no training for the job.

A singular strength of the document is that it offers an uncompromised progressive vision that does not conform to recent fashions in seeking “common ground” with conservative
evangelicals and Catholics.

Particularly striking in this regard is its call for a society in which there is full access to reproductive health care, including abortion, marriage equality and full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in the life of religious communities.

Since it was announced two weeks ago, the report, “Sexuality and Religion 2020: Goals for the Next Decade,” has generated little media attention beyond a few regional newspapers and online news sites.

Sometimes, this is the quiet way revolutions begin.

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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.

Join the discussion!

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.

by Onleilove Alston

In America many people make New Year’s Resolutions to set goals as they go into the New Year. Most resolutions involve breaking a harmful habit or beginning a positive one. This New Year’s I want to challenge all of us to make the resolution to resurrect Beijing by supporting the advancement of women’s rights at your church, in your communities and on your jobs. If you choose to take-up this resolution review the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995. Become familiar with the document and share it within your community. One way in which you can advance women’s rights is by advocating for women’s leadership in local churches and denominations. March is Women’s History Month and you can advance women’s rights by teaching a Sunday school class on women in the Bible. On a broader level if your state or nation is considering legislation that affects women get involved by lobbying your governmental officials. Consider mentoring a younger woman in your church or community this year and encouraging her to be a leader. Individually you can make a donation to a women’s organization or ministry. Personally you can resolve to advocate for yourself and other women when faced with sexism and gender discrimination.  One important way you can help resurrect Beijing is by attending the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in New York City from February 26 to March 3. Even if you can not attend the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women take-up a local cause that affects women: childcare, sexism in the workplace, women’s wages or any issue that affects women in your community.

2010 and the 15th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action gives us a unique opportunity to consider the advancements women have made since the Fourth World Conference on Women and to fight against the disadvantages we still face as a global community. The New Year always presents us with new opportunities for growth and advancement, 2010 will present women with the opportunity to advance our cause for equality. As a global community let’s unite and resurrect our rights, our voices, and our cause.  Let’s Resurrect Beijing! Have a blessed, safe and prosperous New Year from Ecumenical Women!

Nepali human rights defender Saathi Roundtable, explaining how a new strong international agency for women could benefit women locally:

“If we wash with a bucket of water and start from our feet, the water is wasted washing only our feet. But if we pour the water over our heads, we can wash our whole body.”

The United Nations is a galvanizing force in setting new international standards and commitments to protect and promote women’s human rights especially those at risk of violence, or facing poverty. But the UN’s capacity to support national implementation of these international agreements is woefully underfunded and inadequate. This has limited the potential for women around the world to fully enjoy their rights in practice.

The four small UN agencies exclusively dedicated to women’s issues lack the necessary status, funding and country presence to enable the wider UN system and national authorities to fully implement their obligations. Other, larger UN agencies, sometimes can make a difference, but advancing women’s human rights and gender equality is usually a small part of their mandate. And none of these agencies are adequately supporting the important work of women’s human rights defenders.

In September 2009, after years of persistent campaigning by women’s human rights advocates around the world, all 192 member states of the UN General Assembly finally adopted a resolution agreeing to the creation of a consolidated and stronger UN agency for women.

According to Charlotte Bunch, Founding Director of Center for Women’s Global Leadership, USA, “the General Assembly has at last taken decisive action to create a new gender equality entity on the eve of the 15th anniversary of the Beijing women’s conference in 2010. It is a great victory for women’s rights as well as for the coalition of women’s and other civil society organizations. Now we must ensure that it is a robust and transformational body, capable of advancing the realization of women’s rights on the ground, urgently and effectively.”

In order to achieve this, the agreed new women’s agency urgently needs sustained political commitment from all governments and immediate, substantial funding to ensure its effective establishment and success.

Take action! Show your support for a new strong UN women’s agency!

English: http://www.amnesty.org/en/appeals-for-action/gear

Arabic:  http://www.amnesty.org/ar/appeals-for-action/gear

French: http://www.amnesty.org/fr/appeals-for-action/gear

Spanish: http://www.amnesty.org/es/appeals-for-action/gear

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