By Sophia Chung, International Leaders Program, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. DSC_0475.JPG

I truly appreciated the opportunity to attend CSW in New York not only because it was a chance to expand my horizon, but also because it helped me to see more possibilities and responsibilities now and in future. Everything I experienced and learned throughout those five days is more than I could list down or express through words. I am thankful for all the meaningful conversations I had with people I met or with my teammates during meal times because they helped me developed my thoughts with much more depth. Through all these conversations, God reminds me of His plan for me, His promises, and His grace which never leaves me. Through the preparation for CSW, I learned how shallow my knowledge was, and I realized I had stayed in a comfort zone for such a long time. I thought that I knew what was going on in my country, but I realized I was unaware of a lot the issues going on there. I realized that my country women’s status in the family is the second worst in Southeast Asia, it has the second highest “discriminatory family code” in the region (meaning women’s status are undervalued), women have less than 10% political representation, marital rape is not considered a crime in my country, and the government has no plans to change it. Not only that, according to the WEF Global Gender Gap study in 2014 shows that my country has the worst gender gap in Southeast Asia, and perhaps a lot of this stems from the country’s view of women. I realized that things like marital rape and other major issues may not be happening in my community, all the aforementioned issues are happening in my country. So, this left me with the question: what can I do?

This trip has helped me reflect and start thinking what my church back home can do so that we can reach both indigenous and Muslim women and young girls. These are sensitive topics in a Muslim majority country because of the many legal restrictions and limitations enforced by the government. So, providing government funded education, expecting new government policy, or giving out resources are not likely to happen. Also, it isn’t efficient or a long-term solution for the church back in Malaysia to simply supply economic resources in cases where the government care for women might be lacking. It’s easier to say that I’m going to be a part of changing the status quo than to actually take steps to make it happen, but attending the conference has motivated me to start planning so that this is not just a unilateral resource assistance, but a two-sided cooperation and management, that ensures a healthy relationship between church and community that can last to the next generations. This is a never-ending-learning process, and I wish that I could have stayed a few more days to learn and absorb. But I think it is more valuable to begin implementing the knowledge I do have in my church and community, and to begin writing down a real plan and share it with my pastors and church leaders.

Lastly, I am reminded of a quote from Thomas King, “Don’t say in the years to come that you would have lived your life differently if only you had heard this story. You’ve heard it now.” We are each confronted by pressing issues within our culture and society, instead of simply turning a blind eye, we must each identify our role in shaping the future and the change we hope to see.

A reflection shared by Jennifer Allen a delegate of the Episcopal Church

Purple Gumballs

When my daughter was baptized, she wore a dress made for my mother by my mother’s mother. As I held my tiny baby girl in that dress, with my mother at my side, I could feel my grandmother and great-grandmother standing beside me. Today, I felt their presence again. This time I also felt the invisible presence of my mother as well.

I spent some time today with a group of amazing women and men from around the globe. Women After Linking ArmsWe listened to the stories of our sisters. Stories of violence and fear, stories that we needed to honor before we could begin to witness to the nightmare of violence that afflicts women daily.  After hearing these stories, we went out and, in an unprecedented moment, stood with our arms linked to witness against gender based violence. Unprecedented because the United Nations is not generally willing to allow any type of demonstration across…

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Friday, the Canadian Anglican Delegation had a chance to visit the Permanent Mission of Canada to the UN and meet with a member of their staff who is on the negotiating team for this year’s CSW. As a part of our time together, the youth delegation shared a statement which they had prepared on issues that are of great concern to them as young Anglican Canadians, in particular within Canada. We stayed up until 11:00pm the night before working on it together and that process has been one of the best parts of CSW for us so far.

You will find the statement below. It was very well received and in fact the youth were asked to send a copy so that it could be shared with other members of staff. Needless to say the youth were pleased as punch and their youth leaders and parents were very proud. So here is our statement, these are the issues that matter to us.

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As Canadian Anglican Youth Delegates, we have come together to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, to observe, learn, and participate in the project of increasing women’s empowerment around the world and at home.  We would like to use this opportunity to bring attention to the following issues that we as youth still feel need to be addressed.  Based on our discussions with one another and delegates from around the world, our priorities include: Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, Reproductive Justice, Sexual Health Education, and Gender and Sexual Minorities.

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

We want to highlight the need for Canada to ratify the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People as promised.  We believe Canada should prioritize listening to indigenous families, voices, women, and scholars and incorporating their needs, insights, and leadership into the action and research done.  As indigenous advisors have suggested, we strongly believe in prioritizing the accountability of law enforcement at the levels of individual officers and policy.

Changes in government policies that contribute to missing and murdered indigenous women, particularly through criminalizing indigenous women’s lives should be addressed.  Criminalizing women’s lives is instrumental in their marginalization and in forcing them into unsafe conditions where they risk losing their lives.  One key example includes Bill c-36 (The Exploited Persons Act) which criminalizes sex work.  Indigenous women, migrant women, and poor women are overly represented as sex workers.  Bill c-36 is consistently denounced by sex workers as both criminalizing their lives, making their jobs riskier, and providing barriers to the implementation of ways that sex workers keep themselves safe.  Bill c-36 contradicts Canada’s work around missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, and demonstrates a failure to listen to indigenous women’s own concerns and solutions.

Reproductive Justice

Reproductive health services have been highlighted as a key priority for the Trudeau government.    Currently New Brunswick continues to break federal Canadian law with it’s abortion restrictions and has created a two-tiered medical system where wealthy people have access to private services that the largely low income population of New Brunswick does not.  Not only are people forced to pay out of pocket for services that the province is legally contracted to provide and make accessible, when they can’t they are forced to travel across borders, or attempt highly dangerous DIY solutions.

We also want to highlight the need for a national prescription coverage plan in order to make birth control more accessible.  Birth control in Canada is not accessible to many people, including teenagers.  Teenagers have less access to medication for financial reasons and because of physical barriers which make it more difficult for them to get to a doctor or access parent’s medical insurances while maintaining confidentiality.

Another part of reproductive justice is ensuring that people can raise their children in safe and supportive environments.  Child and family services across Canada too often spend resources removing children from their families instead of prioritizing supports for families to stay together.  Child removal policies criminalize poverty and most often affect indigenous, racialized, poor and single parent families. We want to encourage the government to respond to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal’s ruling from January 2016 concerning its provision of services to indigenous children, and increase funding levels until these children and youth have equal access to all other young Canadians.

Sexual Health Education

Other members of our group are also concerned with access to sex positive, knowledge based sex education and are concerned at the clear and unjust disparities between provinces and their approaches, resources, standards for sexual health education.  The lack of accountability of provinces in the provision of sexual health education and the very different realities that young Canadians face across the country are inexcusable and easily fixed with a little political will.  Sex education should be inclusive of the experiences of people of all genders, sexualities and levels of ability.  It should be sex positive and fact based.  It should include discussions of consent and how sex should feel good both physically and emotionally.

Gender and Sexual Minorities

We support Bill C-16 which amends the human rights act to include gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination.  This bill provides vital protection for queer and trans communities.  Currently, queer youth are disproportionately represented amongst homeless youth and youth in care.  Intersectionality must be a part of addressing issues faced by gender and sexual minorities since indigenous, racialized, and disabled youth who are queer and trans face increased risk of violence, poverty and discrimination.

Sincerely,

The Anglican Youth Delegation

Clare Urquhart
Karen Urquhart
Willow Martin Seedhouse
Aili Peterson McIntyre
Marnie Peterson
Alicia Armstrong
Ceilidh Gibson
Sierra Robertson-Roper
Sarah Lloyd
Caitlin Reilley Beck
Jessi Taylor

The woman standing before us held her hand out to the chair in front of the room. We had gathered to listen to a presentation by Masimanyane, a woman’s support network centered on ending violence against women and girls. Instead, we listened to this woman as she explained that Masimanyane had decided not to attend, on the premise that they wished to stand in solidarity with the many women who would not be able to participate in the 61st Commission on the Status of Women due to the United States’ recently implemented travel ban. Following her explanation, she read from Masimanyane’s official statement on its rationale for choosing not to attend:

“We have serious concerns about the far-reaching impact of the recent spate of executive orders which serve to exclude, demonize and criminalize specific communities in the United States of America (USA) and some communities globally, jeopardizing the lives and livelihoods of women. Further impact of the executive orders is the denial of the right of women of member states to participate in this global forum. We took this decision to express solidarity with, in particular, the women of Libya, Sudan and Somalia, as well as our sisters in Syria, Iran and Yemen.”

As opposed to the originally planned presentation and panel, those present were encouraged to stay for a round-table discussion on the relationship between global populism and the status of women.

Our discussion was centered on the emergence of far-right political figures and parties across the world. There was a focused and dynamic energy to our dialogue, and it was clear that each woman in the room desired space for their input and concerns. Each woman’s voice was textured by its own unique intent; while some of us wanted to provide our insights on opposing the spread of divisive ideologies, others took the time to gently emote over the lives that have already been impacted by the new United States President’s first large string of executive orders.

Here’s the thing, we are here as delegates on behalf of the PC(USA) denomination. It is our faith that has driven twelve young women to attend the CSW. We come from different walks of life, yet the majority of us are attending seminary. For me, it was seminary that taught me what the imago Dei truly looked like. Genesis 1:27 affirms the personhood of every human being. The text reads, “God created humankind in God’s image, in the image of God they were created; male and female Got created them.” This text is the theology that guides my politics. When executive orders dehumanize our brothers, our sisters, our neighbors, our faith body must stand up and affirm the imago Dei of all humanity.
Our refugees need their hosts countries to affirm their humanity and value. Our refugees need our churches to stand in solidarity and fight for their rights. Our panel began with a sweep of hand gesturing towards an empty chair. “This empty chair represents the many women who could not be with us at this year’s Commission on the Status of Women. It represents all of the voices that will not be heard at the United Nations this year.” This year, we are missing out. Women have been left behind and it is our loss. While the panel began with this image, we have continued to name the absence of those who could not attend this year. For those of us who are representatives on the ecumenical end, this empty charge became our charge and benediction to welcome, fight for, and love our global sisters

Written by Shannon Schmidt and Leslie Cox of the Young Women’s  PC(USA) Delegation to the Commission of the Status of Women

The United Nations has cancelled all official events tomorrow due to the weather conditions. Please check online or the direct location of parallel events for other arrangements. We pray for our sisters and friends in transit, and ask you all take necessary precautions.

By: Jennifer Allen Delegate of the Episcopal Church

Purple Gumballs

Today I am leaving for the United Nations’ Commission for the Status of Women’s 61st Session. I’ll be blogging about the experience, as I am able. It will be a busy two weeks. But, today, I’d like to just share a little Information with you about UNCSW. It will only take about seven minutes of your time to read this post. Seven minutes doesn’t seem like too much time does it? Consider, however, in the seven minutes you are reading this post 2,000 girls under the age of 18 will be sexually assaulted somewhere on the globe. 64 women will be beaten by their partner in the US. 60 girls under the age of 16 will be married, 40 girls in Africa will have their genitals mutilated. And, somewhere nine women are entering human trafficking against their will.

Those numbers caught my attention, but it’s the stories that captured my passion…

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By: Charlotte Mildenberger- Lutheran Office for World Community ew-blog

Last week during the United Nations General Assembly general debate week, I attended a side event titled “Keeping the Faith in Development: Gender, Religion and Health”. The side-event was co-hosted by UNAIDS, UN Women, UNFPA, (as part of the United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force on Religion and Development), the World Council of Churches – Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, the Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research, and Islamic Relief USA.

The event brought together some of the report authors, editors, and producers, as well as religious scholars, faith leaders and faith-based organizations, such as: Rabbi Burton Visotzky, Jewish Theological Seminary; Imam Shamsi Ali, president of Nusantara Foundation; Mr Luis Mora, UNFPA; Ms Sally Smith, UNAIDS; Mr Luca Badini-Confalonieri, Wijngaards Institute; Ms Gillian Paterson, Heythrop College, London, Ms Julie Clague, University of Glasgow, Mr Ulrich Nitschke, International Partnership for Religions and Sustainable Development (PaRD) and Ms. Safira Rameshfar, Baha’i International Community.

The reports address the taboo issues faith communities encounter when seeking to address sexual and reproductive health challenges, and propose theological and practical responses that simultaneously respect the tenets of faith traditions. The event explored areas of conflict and the “faith-full” ways to resolve them. The participants were invited to put forward recommendations for action to help achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

This symposium launched three reports examining the intersections and areas of contention between health, human rights and lived theology:

Religion, Women’s Health and Rights: Points of Contention, Paths of Opportunities (a joint UNFPA –NORAD Paper).

Dignity Freedom and Grace: Christian Perspectives on HIV, AIDS and Human Rights (Paterson and Long, 2016) is published by the World Council of Churches.

Promoting good health & good conscience – The Ethics of Using Contraceptives (Wijngaards Institute).

During the Q & A section, I was shocked to learn that there is only one toilet for women in a remote village of 16,000 people in in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Leaving the event, I could not stop thinking about it and did some research. I have since learned that of the world’s seven billion people, 2.4 billion people do not have improved sanitation. 1 billion people still defecate in the open. Poor sanitation increases the risk of disease and malnutrition, especially for women and children. 1 in 3 people on this planet still don’t have access to a clean and safe toilet; 1,000 children die each day due to poor sanitation.  Women and girls in many parts of the world are living out there right now under these terrifying circumstances. It’s also a matter of safety – women and girls are getting raped while seeking sanitation.

One toilet for women and girls in a village of 16,000 people is an example of the dire need to build toilets and create safe spaces for women and girls. It is a call for the full implementation of SDGs especially SDG6 “Ensure access to water and sanitation for all”. Better sanitation supports better nutrition and improved health, especially for women and children. Let’s do something about it! We can’t wait while a lack of access to sanitation affects health, education, gender equality, nutrition, the environment. #wecantwait

By: Lia Hansen- Lutheran Office for World Community

 

making-every-woman-countDuring the general debate of the 71st session of the General Session, I attended a side event hosted by UN women titled: “Making Every Woman and Girl Count”. This event highlighted the importance of gendered data in the implementation of international, regional, and national policies. Eleven out of the fourteen indicators of gender inequality currently lack sufficient data. The gender data initiative has three main goals: To enable an environment to strengthen policies for the production of gender statistics, to increase data production efforts, and to increase data accessibility for more members of society. The Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, noted that we do not have 80% of data to monitor SDG5, and emphasized the lack of political will on the issue, as only 13% of countries dedicate resources to gender data.  The Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop emphasized the importance of collecting data at an individual rather than a household level, known as the individual deprivation measure (IDM), in order to create effective policies.

The panel included Melinda Gates from the Gates foundation, who declared that we “can’t close gender gap if we don’t close the gender data gap”, noting that “what gets measured gets done”. She stated that it is necessary to build a data set and track data, since decisions cannot be made on estimates. She also emphasized the importance of data on women’s unpaid work, since it is part of a root inequity affecting women worldwide. Emily Courey Pryor, Senior Director of Women and Girls Initiatives for the Women and Population team at the UN Foundation, urged member states to “not just talk about gender equality, but measure and celebrate it”. She advocated for the use of data in communities and countries to drive policy change and for the accessibility of such data to community members that can hold decision makers accountable. Many heads of state, leaders of civil society and the private sector, and UN affiliates gave interventions during the session. The Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Mexico emphasized the importance of disaggregating data, to include all groups of women and girls.

The main outcome of “Making every woman and girl count” is the idea of enabling an environment for gender statistics, to produce more disaggregated data, and increase its accessibility to every sector of society. These efforts can aid in producing more gender-sensitive policies worldwide. This discussion and initiative is essential, as it helps to mainstream gender issues into the UN bodies and initiatives, while honoring the SDG’s promise of leaving no one behind.

For more information on UN Women’s Flagship Programme, click here.

By: Rachel Chardon, Anglican CommunionCapture_Rachel

 

The 61st session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW61) will focus on the Priority Theme: Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work, studying how to empower women economically by promoting the equality and accessibility of women to obtain an education, to enter the workforce, and to control their financial savings. For women and girls, an accessible education is an important component in obtaining competitive jobs with higher incomes. As more women earn money, families have greater combined household incomes that women can control. Women’s growing capabilities in spending coupled with access to savings accounts at financial institutions can help achieve faster economic growth. The changing world of work acknowledges the growth of women in the workforce and the lack of equality women face in obtaining high-level jobs, similar wages, mobility to formal work sectors, and economic independence.

When women and girls are solely responsible for household chores, they are more likely to work in low-paid and undervalued jobs that inhibit their participation in the formal workplace. Legal restrictions and spousal objections have repressed women’s economic opportunities and the types of jobs they can obtain. Amongst all major racial and ethnic groups, women’s economic equality is significantly lower than that of the median earnings of white men. Alongside the important facts outlined above, our delegates at UNCSW61 are also asked to report on any progress made (or challenges remaining) in their nation regarding the Review Theme: Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls.

By: Lori Kochanski, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America/Lutheran World Federation, CSW Delegate

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Entering this Holy Week I reflect on the sacred holy week I experienced as a participant in the events at the UN Commission on the Status of Women.

Every Good Friday I remember a little girl in the congregation in New Haven, CT, where I served as intern.  As we were walking the stations of the cross and listening to the story of Jesus she pulled at my hand and asked THE question: “why did he have to die if he didn’t do nothing?”  In a neighborhood where she witnessed violence every day she had grown used to understanding the consequences of life on the street.  She could not reconcile the innocent Jesus dying the same death as the drug dealers.

The question still goes to my heart and names the tensions in my own believing.  For me this is where faith is more important than belief.  Here is where I hope it is true that God can take my anger and questioning in the face of the world of injustices. Because after the holy week in New York of sacred walking and listening I hear echoes of the same question a little girl asked a long time ago:  “Why do girls and women have to die every day?  They have done nothing except be born.”  If Jesus died so that we are free then why are there still women and girls dying at the hands of violence and persecution.

My prayer right there is to find the places where hope can rise at intersections of suffering and pain.  In the rising I believe we will catch a glimpse of the promise of Christ rising from the dead.  This place of hope is constructed by the power of people to lament realities that only serve to harm another through misuse of power.  Hope takes flesh when we lay down our own swords and reach out to our neighbors in order to create a vision of humanity that includes both justice and freedom.  Hope is born from truth of reconciliation.  And it takes time and deliberate plans and collective advocacy.

As global partners in achieving the sustainable goals set out for the world by the United Nations we must hold each other accountable to our actions and inaction. We also must be willing to keep noticing the things that cause greatest harm, in particular harm to those who are most vulnerable.  To be more specific – women and girls.

Today, it is very easy to act as if the time at the United Nations was a dream, a parallel reality I can step out of and forget.  So for as tired as my brain was last week, I pray to become even more tired in my purpose and prayer of how to be of continued use in my own context.  I pray my vocation meets my call and a vision is revealed.  I trust there will be partners in the journey that it may be so.

Yet, we still have so far to go and so much to learn.  We have to find our place in the order of things.  Because…well, because promise.  Because, grace.  Because, freedom.  Because, faith.

By Mavis Duncanson, Association of Presbyterian Women Aotearoa New Zealand, CSW Delegate

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Wednesday (3/16/16) started with worship where I heard the story of a rice farmer in Korea. At a time of economic hardship global aid agencies sent large volumes of rice at a low price so that the people could eat their staple food. Which meant the price the farmer could get for his produce was seriously deflated, at the time that his fifth daughter was born. Only a son could inherit his property, and he needed a son to grow up and work the fields, yet every child was another mouth to feed, and he wanted his children to have a warm, secure life free from hunger. He made the difficult, so difficult decision to allow his beloved daughter to be adopted far away to the United States of America. She was loved deeply by her adoptive parents and well provided for, growing in grace and stature and telling this story as she led in worship on Wednesday.

Later in the day women upholding faith, family and motherhood shared what they had done to make a difference for those less fortunate. With seemingly boundless love and energy teams of people are ensuring that dolls are being sewn and dressed, booklets coloured in and bound, foam shapes cut out so that children can learn to distinguish circles from triangles, stars from squares. The passion and enthusiasm were undeniable. Provision of washable sanitary towels to girls who previously sat in their bedrooms on a piece of cardboard and training of midwives to reduce maternal and perinatal mortality will undoubtedly have a positive impact on gender equality. Yet I couldn’t help wondering to what extent women like me, women of privilege, sending item after item to children perceived as being in need might not undercut development of local solutions to local issues or put local manufacturers out of business.

In a third event a speaker from the floor reminded me that violence takes many forms, and that corporate violence taking land and testing agricultural chemicals is often backed up with the power of legal strategies and even military intervention when women and girls stand up for the right to clean air and water in their communities. In my own country Aotearoa New Zealand we know the long term effects of alienation from land for tangata whenua (the people of the land). How can private corporations be held to account when their need for product development undercuts local economies and directly impacts health and education?

As I reflect I realise that all this undercutting can be framed as coming from a positive motivation: to avoid starvation in a country in dire economic circumstances; to provide special items to needy children and find personal joy and fulfilment; to develop fertilisers and pesticides that can make agriculture more efficient. But it can also be framed as philanthropy without partnership or corporate exploitation. Thinking of our pivotal scriptures this week the starting points were entitlement to inheritance and sharing of resources. Moses affirmed the rightness of the daughters of Zelophehad having the inheritance that was theirs. They were the ones to decide what crops to grow and stock to raise. And the widow of Zarephath did not receive a delivery of bulk discounted oil. Rather she poured out what she had and found that it was more than sufficient. So somehow we need wisdom to distinguish paternalism from partnership, self-fulfilment from solidarity. I pray for that wisdom.

Written by: Holly Hanitrinirina Sthela Gun, Lutheran World Federation, ELCA International Leaders Program, CSW Delegate

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The Commission on Status of Women (CSW) is always a life changing event for me, and I am hoping that it does the same to all people who join this event. It is a way to engage with your own country. Any CSW conference is a new experience. The more you listen to others’ stories – the more you learn, the more you speak – the more you advocate. The more you engage in discussion, join meetings, you help the grassroots voice to be heard.

In CSW 60, I was able to engage and be in discussion about the status of women and the policies in which my church stands, as well as in discussion regarding a proposition that the church wants to bring to the table, with my Mission at the United Nations (Madagascar) and government representatives. This ability to be in consultation with them helped the voice of the church to be heard. Because of this, when they make decisions, I hope they will consider the importance of those voices.The government itself will never be able to reach any goals by themselves. They need collaboration with other sectors. 

Being a participant in this Commission on Status of Women has shaped me to be more of my church, to help other voices to be heard. I think anyone who takes part in CSW should be responsible to share their experiences. The only job you do in the United Nations is representing the voice of your brothers and sisters.

 

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Agnes and GaramAnita Coleman, a member of the Presbyterian delegation, writes about an ecumenical witness involving Presbyterians, United Methodists, and Lutherans that took place during one of the parallel events held during the NGO Committee on the Status of Women Forum.

Here are some excerpts:

‘Comfort women.’ I didn’t know anything about them until I heard the announcement at our orientation.  It appeared that there was to be an event where the sexual slavery of the South Korean women by the Japanese military was going to be denied and those interested were invited to gather for a conversation. I found myself doing so.

I had done my own research before coming to this meeting and found it eye-opening. ‘Comfort women’ refers to women, young girls (and some boys too), who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War 2. The victims came from Asia and the Pacific, primarily Korea, Taiwan, China, Indonesia, and Philippines but also from elsewhere such as Burma. I even found one reference to the ‘Nederlands” (as Netherlands was called then).

For now, I invite you, to get informed about the ‘comfort women’ issue. My second invite is to my faith family in California. If you have any south-east Asian, Korean or Japanese American ancestry/interest, or have friends of these ethnicities, I ask you to share this post with them. Also, I urge you to pray about becoming a ‘comfort women’ witness.  This issue highlights all sorts of injustices such as how patriarchy and colonialism are embedded invisibly in systems of defense (including our defense budgets), the insidious relationship between domestic violence and violence against women in conflict and war situations, and last, but not least, issues of human identity and use of women’s bodies.

Check out Anita’s whole post for more about the witness and a list of resources.

Anita Coleman is an independent scholar and researcher who lives in Southern California with her husband, son, and their pet cat Smokie. This is her first visit to New York, the United Nations, and the Commission on the Status of Women!Anita’s books are on Amazon and you can connect with her on Facebook, Instagram,Tumblr and Twitter @chariscol.

The photo shows Agnes Jallah and Garam Han during the planning session for the witness.

By Addie Domske

Today I participated in worship for the Commission on the Status of Women, along with other women here with the Presbyterian Church (USA).

I was fortunate enough to write part of the liturgy for our short worship time, found below. (It is partially inspired by a Presbyterian women’s history month liturgy.) May we all name what needs to be named in the world!

CALL TO WORSHIP
Leader: O God, for your Church universal, which throughout the ages has called women to serve in this world that you love,
People: we thank you.
Leader: For Mary of Bethany, who used her alabaster jar to teach us how to praise,
People: we thank you.
Leader: For Martha, who served others to model for us true hospitality,
People: we thank you.
Leader: For Priscilla and Lydia who showed us church leadership in the creation of the early Christian church,
People: we give you praise.
Leader: For the widow with oil, who taught us about renewal in the pouring out of our gifts,
People: we thank you.
Leader: For Rahab, who sheltered and facilitated her brothers toward safety.
People: we thank you.
Leader: For Hagar, who out of trauma created new life,
People: we thank you.
Leader: For the ministry of women in the Church universal today. who joyfully accepted their new responsibilities with diligence,
People: we thank you and we celebrate their lives and their commitment to the ministry of the whole Church.
All: Together, may we move forward with women and men as fully equal partners in the ministry of Christ to which you call us all. Amen.

SCRIPTURE (Genesis 16:7-15)
7 The Lord’s messenger found Hagar at a spring in the desert, the spring on the road to Shur, 8 and said, “Hagar! Sarai’s servant! Where did you come from and where are you going?”
She said, “From Sarai my mistress. I’m running away.”
9 The Lord’s messenger said to her, “Go back to your mistress. Put up with her harsh treatment of you.” 10 The Lord’s messenger also said to her,
“I will give you many children,
so many they can’t be counted!”
11 The Lord’s messenger said to her,
“You are now pregnant and will give birth to a son.
You will name him Ishmael [which means, “God hears”]
because the Lord has heard about your harsh treatment.
12 He will be a wild mule of a man;
he will fight everyone, and they will fight him.
He will live at odds with all his relatives.”
13 Hagar named the Lord who spoke to her, “You are El Roi” [which means “God who sees” or “God whom I’ve seen”] because she said, “Can I still see after he saw me?” 14 Therefore, that well is called Beer-lahai-roi; [which means the Well of the Living One who sees me or whom I’ve seen] it’s the well between Kadesh and Bered. 15 Hagar gave birth to a son for Abram, and Abram named him Ishmael.

PRAYER
Holy God, as women we are called to name. Like Hagar gives God a name, so too are we called to name things in the world. Whether we step back to amplify the voices of others or step forward to sing our own song, we are call to name. Hagar’s son, Ishmael, birthed out of trauma, “God hears” is a reflection that God is on our side. From trauma comes the birthed resistance of knowing that the one who hears is our God.

TRANSITION to EMBODIED PRAYER
We will now enter into a time of embodied prayer. As women, our bodies have often been used as commodities, but we reject that notion in our worship. Today our group will use our bodies to name the realities of women in the world who have a lack access surrounding the goal of education. As we use our body to illustration truth, we remember the legacy of naming that we women must live into.

EMBODIED PRAYER
[compiled by fellow PC(USA) seminarian, Jess Rigel of Princeton Theological Seminary]

About the author: Addie Domske is a member of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) delegation and a student at McCormick Theological Seminary.

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  • Work of doctor who helped treat rape victims focus of new film
    The work of a gynaecologist who treats rape victims who have been subjected to sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is the focus of a film which has just been released. "The Man Who Mends Women", tells the story of Dr Denis Mukwege.
    UN Radio
  • Report lays out "baseline" for progress in gender equality
    Although women are outpacing men in achieving higher levels of education, they are still more likely to pursue the humanities as opposed to science, technology, engineering and mathematics. That's according to the World's Women 2015, a UN report which looks at how women worldwide are faring in eight critical areas such as health, education, work, p […]
    UN Radio

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