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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.
A poem by Djamillah Samad, National Executive of Church Women United:
see me in these shoes, shoes big and broken, not really made for me
see me in these shoes walking roads dark and troubled, in a marriage not meant to be,
see me in a union of race mixing and identities stolen.
see me standing in these shoes, wife of a mill owner, I’m often denied by him in public,
see me compelled by color, class, and gender, pushed to say so little,
see me in these shoes, brand new for this occasion, never worn before,
listen as my youngest girl is crying by my grave, watch her put her own shoes on,
now, watch the slowness of her walk, her life is rapidly changing,
see her sadness in a few years as her daddy’s mills go sold to others because I am gone on home.
see me in these shoes, shoes not very new
see me in these shoes owned by another little girl whose story, life and access so different than my own,
see the shoes they passed along to a girl who has no mother.
see me in these shoes, I’m not even 14, standing frightened at the porch door,
telling that ole sheriff that my daddy is not here,
see me now in just one shoe, the other lost in the struggle for my life,
make this man leave me alone, I fight in fear, I cry, I fail.
see me hold my other shoe, rocking and crying all alone,
I know my daddy could not have defended me, he’s almost as powerless as me.
see me in these shoes, I feel I must leave home,
see me riding this train looking for work up north,
see me in my work shoes, maid to a woman who’s not much better off than me, I hear her sobs at night grieving a life gone south.
see me in these shoes, holding out my hand for my pay, we both knowing she pays me less than is my worth,
now see me in the shadows watching her as she steals it back,
she knows I can’t say a word, I know that she can’t either.
see me in these shoes now new and shiny but leaving once again,
see me in these shoes, years later walking on other streets,
see me say I do for a second time, I don’t really love him, it’s safe.
see me in these slippers staring at this child, too tired to read or hold her, I’ll just buy her a toy, tell her to sleep,
see me in these shoes, no one knows which ones I have on.
see my daughter stare at me in my repose, few words were exchanged these last few years, now in my death it is far too late.
see me in these shoes, running for the bus
this is not the first time my eye has been blackened and screams gone unheard,
I just know the next time will be different.
see me mother these children, they’ve aged before my eyes, look, as the years just whiz right by,
But, see them stop talking, is it them, or is it me, not opening up, never admitting they are hurting too,
see them wearing their own shoes, I wonder how much they hide.
see me in your shoes mommy, they’re so pretty, heels so high.
see me in your shoes, so big upon my six year old feet.
see me in your shoes mommy, walking down our street,
see me walking in your footsteps, will I be just like you?
Artist Mary Button sat down with the Ecumenical Women Communications Team yesterday to give some background information on her artwork, CSW57 and what inspires her. Check out the video above.
Nearing the end of our first amazing day of the 57th Commission on the Status of Women at the UN, we absolutely needed to post the following video of a powerful worship experience we had as Ecumenical Women this past Saturday evening.
I believe in the sun even when it’s not shining.
I believe in love even when I don’t feel it.
I believe in God even when God is silent.
by Onleilove Alston
This Bible Study Resource is one part of a series of Bible Studies that examine The Last Week of Christ Life and The Last Year of Rev. King’s Life, created by The Poverty Initiative, an organization “dedicated to Building a Movement to End Poverty Led by the Poor”. This is an interactive, multimedia Bible Study that can be used in various settings. We offer a variety of resource choices so that you can tailor the study to the needs of your group. This type of Bible Study was created by The Poverty Initiative by working with grassroots community groups and is called textual reflection, where we engage the Biblical text with contemporary writings. In no way is this Bible Study comparing the life of Dr. King to the life of Christ but by looking at the life of our fellow man we can see that it is possible to live out the teachings of Jesus in the public square to the end of social change.
This Bible Study examines the role women played in the ministry of Jesus and in Dr. King’s Poor People’s Campaign, showing that the leadership of women is needed in ministry and social movements; Christ set this example.
For the entire Bible Study (including resources and links) visit:
by Onleilove Alston
Note: Though DWU works on issues affecting domestic workers in the U.S. the issues faced by its membership are shared by women worldwide. The exploitation of women workers is an international human rights issue. According to Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was adopted by the U.N. :
- (1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
- (2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
- (3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
- (4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. THEY will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. THEY will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; THEY will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. -Isaiah 61:1-4
“I want to be in tune with my maker.”
“I pray for the organization to get the (the Domestic Worker) Bill of Rights passed”.
“Without God we can’t do anything”.
“I put fliers in the churches, I speak to the pastors”.
–Marilyn Marshall and Joyce Gill-Campbell Leaders in Domestic Workers United (DWU)
“We have a dream that one day, all work
will be valued equally”.-Mission of Domestic Workers United
During the spring of 2006 I started to closely read Isaiah 61 and began to gain spiritual encouragement from meditating on God’s care for the poor and oppressed. I began to study this scripture whenever I had the chance. In 2007 I started to work with New York Faith & Justice after meeting founders: Lisa Sharon Harper, Anna Lee and Peter Heltzel at Pentecost 2007. In the Fall of 2007 New York Faith & Justice did an in-depth Bible Study on Isaiah 61 and from this study I learned that this passage declares the poor “the oaks of righteousness”, and “that THEY will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated”. This new insight revolutionized my approach to the ministry of ending poverty. Instead of just preaching the gospel to the poor, the poor are called to rebuild and restore their communities! If you are a person of privilege instead of working for the poor you are called to work alongside the poor. And if like me you come from the ranks of the poor you are called to rebuild and restore your community. This re-reading of Isaiah 61 is further supported by my work with the Poverty Initiative’s Poverty Scholars Program. The Poverty Scholars program brings poor activist from across America to Union Theological Seminary to take part in an educational program of conferences, theological reflection and action planning centered on re-igniting Dr. King’s Poor People’s Campaign.
For many women who weren’t able to attend (or who weren’t old enough to know what was going on oat the time) the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China in 1995 exists only in the realm of the imagination. For me (age 12 at the time) the words “Beijing conference” conjure up the list of areas of the Beijing platform and visions of huge crowds of global women. That was until I saw “The World Through Women’s Eyes.”
In the time leading up to the Beijing conference, a group called The U.S. Ecumenical Women’s Network: Beijing and Beyond, was focusing on the importance of calling media attention to Beijing and spreading the stories that would be shared there. This group of women decided that one of the most effective things they could do was create a video (yes, it was VHS then) documenting the conference. Through the magic of modern technology, we were able to transfer this VHS tape to DVD, and then upload it to YouTube.
It is with great thanks to the women who had the foresight to make this video possible that we encourage you to watch, send it to your friends and networks, and inspire a new generation with the stories of your own involvement in the global women’s movement.
by Haeley Park, Intern with WCC UN Liaison Office
It was when I first entered into college when, all of sudden, I felt like I was brainwashed with Christianity. I was born into a devoted Christian family and grew up in a church environment all my life. I obeyed God’s calling by coming to the U.S. to become an international lawyer, when I was only thirteen years old. Life in a foreign country without family or friends was very hard, but I always was filled with joy, with presence of God’s protection and love.
For first time in my life, I started questioning about faith, Christian beliefs, Bible, and God since entering college. I kept on examining what it means to be a Christian and its position in the world. I was immediately thrown into a spiritual battle field and had bloody struggles. I developed criticizing and cynical views of Christians whose deeds seem to be contradicting between inside and outside the church. I kept on judging Christians and called them hypocrites. I was in an extreme denial against God and His people.
God had sent me to the World Council of Churches’ United Nations Liaison Office as a summer intern, probably to humble me. The spiritual battle continued to rise to its peak as my wonderful supervisor who is now like my beloved sister, challenged me greatly about faith, Christianity, theology, justice, life, purpose, and beyond throughout the summer. One of many hot debates we had was about the position of women in the Bible. I was upset at the fact that bible contradicts gender equality principles and teaches women to be submissive and obedient to their husbands while my supervisor claims that the Bible does promote gender equality. To prove myself, I had to dig into the Bible for examples:
“You wives must accept the authority of your husbands, even those who refuse to accept the Good News…They [women] trusted God and accepted the authority of their husbands… For instance, Sarah obeyed her husband, Abraham, when she called him her master. You are her daughters when you do what is right without fear of what your husbands might do”(First Peter 3:1-2, 5-6).
“Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savoir…Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything…and the wife must respect her husband” (Ephesians 5:22-24,33).
“Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord” (Colossians 3:18).
“Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God” (First Corinthians 11:3)
I could not conclude anything regarding this matter, so I put it aside from my concerns. Then a few weeks have passed since the topic has been discussed. Then the unsolved question was unexpectedly solved yesterday morning. There is a worship service every Thursday morning at the Church Center of the United Nations, and I attended as usual.
In the program, one pregnant woman who is a professional dancer, worshipped by dancing while carrying her baby inside her stomach. That was the most beautiful dance I’ve ever seen in my entire life and each movement she made literally pump my heart. It completely revealed mother’s love for the child and I was able to feel the sincere passion and loving heart for God through her dancing. I then realized that God gave a unique gift to women, to be a mother who is loving and caring. After all my questions and doubts regarding the gender references from the Bible, I learned that it’s not about commanding or obeying one another. Rather, it is about loving each other with what God has given uniquely to men and also to women.
by Rev. Kathleen Stone
H.E. Miguel d’Escoto, the United Nations General Assembly President, recently said, “The World cannot be much worse than it is right now”. And of the economic meltdown: “It is a political and moral failure”.
Is this expression merely an enunciation into the world of our failure, meant to make us feel guilt? Or is the truth hidden in those words – a truth that will set us free into a renewed sense of hope? It is my theoretical and theological understanding that until we speak the truth, no matter how hard that truth might be, we will not and cannot be fully free.
It is a midwife truth.
Unless a midwife acknowledges the reality of the pain of what is going on in the body, unless she understands that pain and from what process it emits, unless she allows the body to face that pain and go through it, the birth genuinely could be a disaster. Can you imagine? But, aware of the process of birth, though painful, there is an ushering forth of one of the most joyous and hopeful moments we ever will experience.
Over and over and over we are reminded of this powerful process. The seed must be broken open to grow, the rainstorm must let loose before the rainbow, the muscle must be stretched painfully to grow stronger, the heart must burst open before it will find its compassion, the tears must flow before one will move towards a new life.
I don’t understand it and don’t really like it but I know it’s the truth. Wooed by the possibility of easily gained triumphs and a world that seems to capitalize on that possibility, I often fail to discipline myself to the long haul, through the grief and pain, to the experience of the real and substantive birth that will really be the joy I seek. I’d rather deny, substitute, be wooed, or escape such pain.
Having just arrived back from a powerful immersion journey into the most violent city in El Salvador, I don’t like the grief I feel upon reentry to the U.S. I don’t like the fact that everywhere and anywhere there are places where I grieve – from international, national, community policy to the way I personally live my life and relationships. Theoretically and theologically I know that that grief is the beginning of change, the beginning of revelation, the beginning of learning to Love more profoundly, the beginning of learning to manifest that Love through actions which insist that international, national and community policy is fair. . . . . Theoretically and theologically I know that grief, resistance and determination accompany seeds and hearts cracking open. I don’t understand it. But I know it’s the truth. It’s a midwife truth.
“Theology must have an expression of desire, attraction, eros. This dimension will be combined with poetry and contemplation and also be prophetic and sapiental–a theology of play and free creation, capable of evoking God’s mystery and human justice.”
Ecumenical Women, offering delegates a space for reflection and theological dialogue on the topics gender equality and justice for women, organized three “Red Tents” throughout this year’s CSW. EW women applied energy to Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza‘s “In Memory of Her,” spoke about the theological ramifications of women’s art from the global South, and practiced yoga that was centered around women’s prayers.
This post is by Christian Albers, a vicar from Germany who is interning at the Lutheran Office for World Community at the United Nations in New York.
When Daisy Khan was introduced today at the Faith and Feminism Brown Bag Lunch sponsored by the Sister Fund in New York City, the Muslim woman was compared to no one lesser than Jesus himself. While one might question whether this comparison was appropriate, Kanyere Eaton from the Sister Fund made it clear what she meant: “She is the one we were waiting for.”And indeed, although Ms Khan is neither male nor a Jew nor the Messiah, she is an extremely remarkable person, who is reconciling something urgently in need of reconciliation: Muslim faith and feminism.
Daisy Khan’s interest in religion and interfaith dialogue are rooted in her childhood. Born to a Muslim family in Kashmir, Ms Khan attended a Christian school with predominantly Hindu teachers, played in her childhood with Sikh friends and bought food from Buddhists. Finally, Kashmir is regarded as the lost tribe of the people of Israel.
But it took Daisy Khan some time, including times of doubt, until she found to her own Muslim faith through Persian poet Rumi, who said “I looked for God. I went to a temple, and I didn’t find him there. Then I went to a church, and I didn’t find him there. And then I went to a mosque, and I didn’t find him there. And then finally I looked in my heart, and there he was.”
Ms. Khan came to the United States as a teenager, and went on to study architecture, and work in interior design. But after Sept. 11, that she felt the urgent need to put together her Muslim faith and her commitment for the advancement of women. She realized that these two things ultimately belong together especially because many people, religious and feminist, still think that these two sides are mutually excluding.Her ultimate goal is to show that Islam has the power to positively inspire women and transform society.
As executive director for American Society for Muslim Advancement, she has convened several conferences to raise the often marginalized voices of Muslim women in matters of politics and religion. Her goal is to create a think tank of Muslim women scholars that can engage in debate with the Islamic judicial and theological systems. She explained that there is indeed quite a number of highly qualified female Islam lawyers (Mufti) but only a few of them actually can serve in an official position – mostly as vice muftis and only in Turkey. The think tank attempts to use the expertise of women Islam scholars in order to be heard by religious and political leaders.It was very inspiring for me to meet Daisy Khan and I’m looking forward to hearing her and other Muslim women’s voices making a difference in the future religious dialogue.