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By Michel Ngoy Mulunda, EW delegate, as presented on panel: “A Dialogue Among Cultures; Iraq for All,” 3 March 2008

Photography by Kim Llerena.

We are grateful to the Al Hakim foundation for inviting us to this session of “A Dialogue between cultures: “Iraq for All””. The special invitation to me as one of the panelists to speak on the issue of Women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, marks our strong solidarity with the wrestle for the respect of women’s rights in Iraqi society.

We all know well that violence doesn’t have a specific form in the Congo or in Iraq, but we do agree to call for an end to that form of inhumanity. We hope that great progress will be achieved soon in this area despite reluctance encountered here and there. And we hope that our communities will play a leading role in becoming “the light of the world and the salt of the earth”. Read the rest of this entry »

After staying up until 4 am negotiating last Friday, the member states have finally presented us with the CSW Agreed Conclusions. This document serves as the outcome on the theme of Financing for Gender Equality and has important implications for the review of the financing for development meetings later this year.

Check back later for analysis from Ecumenical Women. In the mean time, please provide your feedback on the recent experience at CSW by taking this very brief survey. Ecumenical Women look forward to your recommendations and input to improve our effectiveness at next year’s CSW! 

My two week CSW experience is just coming to an end. This has been a great opportunity to witness the nations from across the globe come together around the issue of the status of the half of the world’s population – women. Read the rest of this entry »

by Sarah Strickland

As a first-time delegate to the CSW annual meetings, I can only describe my experience as “jumping into the deep-end of the pool.” I was blessed to be asked to be a delegate for the Women’s Intercultural Network by Jean Shinoda Bolen and Marilyn Fowler and I thank divine guidance for my leap of faith to say “yes!” My trade is strategic planning and co-creating “road-maps” that help people in organizations “see” where they want to go. I often find myself in a “midwife” role by helping bring an emerging idea or strategy into being. Recently, I have found myself drawing what I am seeing, hearing and understanding to be present about conversations I am in. The images flow through me and simply show up. It is my way of synthesizing and connecting many different elements into a picture-story. I was asked to share this with others. Please feel free to use it however you wish.

This picture emerged in the chapel at the Church building after I attended two days of meetings. Read the rest of this entry »

In light of International Women’s Day–which falls on a weekend this year, Saturday March 8–Ecumenical Women coalition members have been issueing articles and resources about women.  The United Methodist Board of Church and Society wrote an article on Women’s History Month in their eNewsletter, Faith in ActionEpiscopal Life Online released an article about financing for gender equity, the theme of this year’s CSW, while the ELCA Advocacy department made recommendations on how best to observe International Women’s Day.  Finally, the NCC’s program for women’s ministries also wrote an article honoring women’s history month, adding helpful resources and links at the bottom of the page. 

Apart from the ecumenical scene, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said today in the UN programme commemorating International Women’s Day, “I am deeply convinced that, in women, the world has at its dosposal the most significant and yet larglely untapped potential for development and peace… Women are still severly hampered by discrimination, lack of resources and economic opportunities, by limited access to decision-making and by gender-based violence.”  He called on everyone in the international community to increase investments in women and girls.

Ecumenical Women wishes you a fruitful and informative International Women’s Day! 

“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.”

Maria Theresa Porcile

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.

by Ann Tiemeyer

From February 22 – 26, 2008, seven young women between the ages of 21 to 28 years old participated in the first Young Women’s Leadership Experience facilitated by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC). The group received intensive orientation about the NCC, Ecumenical Women at the UN, Nongovernmental Organizations (NGO’s) at the UN and the history of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).  More>>

Jocelyn Tengatenga

Photograph by Kimberly Llerena.

by Jocelyn Tengatenga

The imperative to act on gender equality and development is an integral part of the mission of God. God’s mission and vision for humanity is one of peace, prosperity and justice. We believe that because women and men are made equally in the image of God they are equal players and equal beneficiaries in God’s bounty. This is the new life as God intended it to be, a life of equality which is spelt out in Galatians 3:28, “in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female for all are one in Christ Jesus”. It is therefore a calling on each one of us as women to be involved in the fight for liberation from all forms of oppression and marginalization. We can only do that if we are united and collectively speak out. As women of faith we have been silent for a long time and now is the time to raise our voices together and join hands in working towards a better tomorrow. As Mercy Amba Oduyoye said, 

“As a woman who feels the weight of sexism I cannot go again and again to the stories of the exodus, exile and to other biblical motifs in which the “least” are recognized and affirmed, are saved or held up as beloved by God or at least are empowered to gnaw at the fundaments of the structures of injustice until these fundaments cave in on themselves.”

Read the rest of Josie’s speech here.

Ecumenical Women delegates to Commission on the Status of Women were given the opportunity to translate Ecumenical Women’s input into the agreed conclusion into prayers of confession, petition and thanksgiving during morning worship on Thursday, February 28th.

This document contains excerpts from the draft of the agreed-upon conclusions. Ecumenical Women suggested additions and changes to the draft agreed upon conclusions, followed by prompting questions. Then three short sentence prayers were created from the thought around those agreed-upon additions: a prayer of confession, a prayer of petition and a prayer of thanksgiving.

We hope you might pray these prayers with a deep and committed heart for the sake of the disproportionate number of women suffering abject poverty. On Monday, governments began to determine the language needed within the agreed-upon Conclusions. By augmenting the agreed-upon conclusions in such a way as Ecumenical Women have desired, it is just possible that we will begin to rebuild an economic system which has at its core a desire for more resources for development, more decisions for development, and less injustice in the financial mechanisms, in the hands of those who are unable to access them under the current mechanisms: the poor.

By Thalif Deen

UNITED NATIONS, Mar 4 (IPS) – When women activists lash out against gender discrimination, one of their longstanding complaints is also directed at the U.N. Secretariat, where senior level posts are still largely a virtual monopoly of men. Despite a 1997 General Assembly resolution calling for 50:50 gender parity in decision-making jobs by 2000, the elusive goal is long past that deadline. A coalition of some 600 women’s groups and non- governmental organisations (NGOs) is now complaining that the pervasive gender discrimination in the U.N. system may also be responsible for the lack of an executive director at a key body dealing with women’s issues: the U.N. Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).

Since its former executive director Noeleen Heyzer was appointed executive secretary of the Bangkok-based U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacifi c (ESCAP) last September, UNIFEM has remained headless, but functions under an acting executive director, Joanne Sandler. ”We need an appointment now”, says Ana Agostino, coordinator of the Feminist Task Force of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP), who points out that the six-month-long delay is unacceptable. She said that women’s groups were expecting an announcement during the current two-week session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), which concludes Friday. But there are no indications it will happen.

Read the rest of the story>> 

For the second day in a row, NGOs have been excluded from observing government negotiations on the Agreed Conclusions of the Commission on the Status of Women. Over 2,000 NGOs have come to New York from around the world to participate in the meeting.

This is a terrible precedent for the Commission, which would not exist in its current form, if not for years of women’s movement and advocacy at the UN. Countless UN agreements provide guiding principles for NGOs and governments to work together, such as the Universal Declaration for Human Rights, the Beijing Platform for action and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination on Women.

In 2000 governments came together and created the Millennium Development Goals to be achieved by 2015 — but they made a major mistake doing it behind closed doors. It took until 2003 for civil society to join the campaign, and valuable time was lost.

Governments cannot achieve gender equality alone. As the ones implementing gender equality on the ground, NGOs should be considered experts and allies. The CSW is not the Security Council, this is a team effort, and if governments send a message of exclusion to civil society, their most valuable resource, the entire world will suffer.

NGOs have presented a letter to the bureau of the commission requesting that they be able to observe the meeting, and restating that they will follow observer protocols. But NGOs must keep the pressure on and get the word out about what is happening. Click here to download NGO letter to bureau chair

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