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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 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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by Samuel Nyampong, Ghana. First publisched in Gender and Religious Education.

Women get children and are not able to think

The traditional perception of females in Ghana up to the latter part of the 20th century was that females could not undertake arduous tasks and were better suited for child ‘producing’ and domestic, trading and farm work. Intellectual and professional developments were the preserve of men. A Ghanaian proverb explains it better: “Obea to tuo a etwere obarima dan mu” (When a woman is able to acquire a gun, it is the man who keeps it in his room).

A research on Position of Women in Ghanaian Society has confirmed that women in premodern Ghanaian society were seen as bearers of children, retailers of fish, and farmers. Given the male dominance in traditional society, some economic anthropologists have explained a female’s ability to reproduce as the most important means by which women ensured social and economic security for themselves, especially if they bore male children.

This ingrained perception about females gave justification for fathers to give their daughters to early marriage so they (fathers) would reap the benefit of receiving a dowry in the form of drinks, cash, cattle and other material goods prescribed by Ghanaian traditional customs. Early unprepared marriage has plunged many girls and women into difficulties which have entangled and imprisoned them with no hope of emancipation. Today the Constitution of Ghana guarantees equal rights for males and females.

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By Paola Salwan, Programme Assistant for Africa, Middle East and Europe at the World YWCA, Geneva

 

Being a World YWCA staff means always having something new to learn. I became fully aware of that last week, when our World Board meeting was held. Being a faith based organisation, the World YWCA often starts its meetings’ sessions by prayers, a meditation or a reflection.

 

Last Wednesday, world Board member Deborah Thomas led us through a very meaningful reflection on gender and climate change. Being from Trinidad, a Caribbean island vulnerable to severe weather conditions, Deborah underlined the awful and sad truth of climate change: global warming is leading to a rise in sea level and to various weather disorders, which could lead to the very submersion of small islands, be it in the Caribbean’s or in the Pacific. She stressed the dramatic climate change effects on communities, notably in the Pacific, where islanders consider their land to be sacred. The extreme weather conditions that seem to hit them more and more often are leading their elders to advise them to flee, which constitutes an absolute trauma for these populations.

 

If Climate Change is touching communities as a whole, it should not be forgotten that once again, women pay the high price of global warming. Indeed, in a large number of rural communities, women bear the burden of having the major responsibility for food security, which makes them highly dependent on local natural resources, thus on the variations in temperature and weather. The fact that they’re often put aside when it comes to policy making and environmental decisions increases their vulnerability towards climate change, all the more so if we consider the gender inequalities of access to resources.

 

But back to Deborah’s meditation. Amidst these grim facts and figures, she introduced a concept I had never heard of before: the Green Bible. In front of our bewildered faces, she must have understood that her audience was not familiar with the subject, and she proceeded to quickly explain it to us : “Have you ever heard of the Green Bible? No? Well, it’s a Bible printed on recycled paper, with every verses related to the environment printed in Green. While producing these Green Bible, people realised that the Bible mentioned the environment over a thousand times, while it mentioned love and heaven around five hundred times”.

 

Amazed and intrigued by these figures, I decided I needed to know more.

 

After a bit of research, here it was: The Green Bible, printed on recycled paper, using soy-based ink with a cotton/linen cover, produced to make Christians understand the importance of protecting the environment God has created for us. By using green ink to make the environment-related paragraphs stand out, the reader realises that going green is not merely a fashion, nor is it simply a political statement: it becomes God’s will and is therefore a faithful commitment that is to be respected.

green_site_02

However, far from being acclaimed by all Christians as a spiritual way of fighting climate change and respecting the environment, the Green Bible sparked controversy as some congregations seemed to think that it was not a Christian initiative but rather, a political one. Their fear is that the political aspect of environmentalism will overcome the spiritual message and interpretation of the Bible and distract believers from their mission that is to spread the Gospel.

 

Nevertheless, even if the Green Bible doesn’t seem to make consensus, more and more Christians are becoming aware of the need to respect our environment more, and to force governments to act against Global Warming. This movement, called Creation Care, is spreading more and more, outnumbering more conservative Christian streams who would like to preserve Christianity from what they consider to be a political opportunistic movement.

 

Although there is definitely a marketing argument to the Green Bible, it is important that Christians are given a tool that shows with such evidence the caring for the environment message that the Bible entails. Every effort to make this planet a better place is not to be disregarded. Besides, the Bible being the absolute all time best seller, it was time it was printed on recycled paper…

 

 

A former professor of mine, a cultural critic and a lecturer on the history of photography, loves to tell a story about an experience she had walking home one day with her stepson. It was a humid day in August in New York City and she and her stepson saw an older neighbor struggling with a heavy bag of groceries. My professor and her stepson took the groceries and helped the neighbor up the stairs of her building and made sure she recovered from the heat. As they were leaving the little boy turned to his mother and said, “Is this going to be on the news tonight?”  “No,” the professor replied. Her stepson smiled and said, “I suppose if we’d hit her and stole her groceries it would be.”

In the past week we have talked a lot about how we can work together to eliminate gender stereotypes. Employing new media can be an important way to continue this work after we leave CSW and return to our communities. How can we make sure that good, decent work is portrayed in the media? How can we use social networking technologies to change attitudes around caregiving thereby helping to eliminate its stigma?

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In preparation for the March meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW-53) at the United Nations, Ecumenical Women has launched an advocacy guide: Faith at the UN, Gender in the Church: Ecumenical Women’s Guide to Advocacy.

The resource prepares delegates from faith-based non-governmental organizations for effective action at the annual United Nations meeting.

Including a brief history of advocacy by women of faith at the United Nations, the guide provides an overview on how to advocate for women’s rights at the UN, gender-equality action strategies for congregations, and theological reflections on gender equality written by women and men from around the world.

DOWNLOAD Faith at the UN, Gender in the Church: Ecumenical Women’s Guide to Advocacy
DOWNLOAD Ecumenical Women’s Addendum, CSW-53
DOWNLOAD Press Release

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UNIFEM released yesterday its biannual global report, Progress of the World’s Women 2008/2009, “Who Answers To Women: Gender and Accountability”.

From the press release:

The new report is being published at the halfway point to the 2015 deadline for achieving the MDG’s and six days before the Secretary-General of the UN will convene a High Level Meeting to examine the world’s progress towards meeting the MDG’s.

“Progress” presents new data providing clear evidence that women’s empowerment and gender equality are drivers for reducing poverty, building food security, reducing maternal mortality, strengthening justice, and enhancing the effectiveness of aid.

Download the report, or learn what it says by checking out the interactive feature on their website.  Either way, you’ll be gaining valuable material.

CSW58

10 – 21 March 2014

Priority theme:
“Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls.”

To read EW's CSW58 Joint Advocacy Statement, click here.

For a calendar of all Ecumenical Women affiliated parallel and side events, click here.

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  • International Girls in ICT Day
    The annual International Girls in ICT Day will take place on 24 April 2014. International Girls in ICT Day is an initiative that is aimed at creating a global environment that empowers and encourages girls and young women to consider careers in the ICT field. It is observed annually on the 4th Thursday of April and serves to inspire girls and young women to […]
    UN Women Watch
  • Midwives, emergency care key to reducing Cambodia's maternal deaths
    Sixteen-year-old Hang Dèng travelled for an hour by boat to reach the health centre closest to her remote Cambodian village. She was in labour and suffering complications.
    UNFPA

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