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By Solange De Santis, August 01, 2008

[Episcopal News Service, Canterbury] The 2008 Lambeth Conference is the second of the decennial meetings to include female bishops and several of them said the welcome is warmer, but that they wish more consideration were given to women’s issues.

Out of the 670 bishops attending, 18 are female, compared to 11 in 1998. The communion’s first female primate, Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, is attending her first Lambeth Conference, having been elected bishop of the Diocese of Nevada in 2001. She was elected presiding bishop in June 2006.

Nine days before the conference began on July 16 (it ends August 3), the Church of England’s governing synod voted to bring forward legislation that would allow the consecration of women to the episcopate. The question of accommodating those who cannot accept women in that role was vigorously debated. A proposal that male “super bishops” be allowed to oversee dissenting parishes was defeated and a “code of practice” approved for dissenters but theological traditionalists said it was too weak.

Four provinces in the communion have elected female bishops: the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Liberals believe there is nothing in the Bible that bars women from ordained leadership and the church needs to use the gifts of all its members, while traditionalists point to Jesus and the disciples as males and ask why thousands of years of tradition should be changed.

While women bishops attending Lambeth are certainly passionate about the roles of women in the church, they also point out that the sexuality issues that have roiled the Anglican church are not focusing enough on many life-and-death concerns that mainly affect women.

“I have an ongoing concern that ‘human sexuality’ is a euphemism for focusing on male homosexuality without discussing sexuality issues that affect the reality of women’s lives. For instance, the sex trafficking of women and girls, female genital mutilation, the taking of child brides and the terrible problems for girls who bear children,” said Bishop Suffragan Catherine Roskam of New York.

Read the rest of the article…

by Christine Mangale

There was only one session on care giving at the recent International AIDS conference, but I could tell that this was an issue that needs much more attention.

Women and girls comprise nearly 90% of care providers globally especially in rural areas. Women are not just caring for family members, some are trained in home-based care and work in their communities as full-time volunteers because there are no formal health care services available.  And yet, this is rarely recognized and only propels the cycle of poverty. The experts at the session seemed to conclude that this current situation is seen as tolerable since women are the ones going through this.  A question that summed up the session was: “If it was men who are mostly involved in home-based care, wouldn’t a solution already have been found?

The value of time, energy and resources required to perform this unpaid work is rarely recognized. In the African context, this traditional practice is overly exploited, and caregivers that work full time as volunteers to countless patients may only receive a meal for their labor, while just like everyone else, they need money to support their families, especially pay for their children’s school fees. Why can’t some of the billions currently poured towards the AIDS response be targeted towards women who dedicate all their lives taking care of the sick? To care for the sick, girls are dropping out of school and women are suffering in silence. We must advocate for solutions to this care giving crisis, such as community financing systems. This is key to restoring the dignity of these women.

This conference, sponsored by two Ecumenical Women members, the United Methodist Women’s Division and the National Council of Churches will be an opportunity for faith based leaders to explore best practices and new approaches for working together to end human trafficking.  It will be held in New York at the Church Center for the UN from Sept. 29-Oct. 1.

Check out the registration form:


Contribution from Valli Boobal Batchelor, Australia

Recently returned from a simply awesome experience at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, I am writing to reflect on dance choreography of a controversial biblical story titled Bathsheba’s Voice which premiered at the 42nd International Choreographers Showcase -a high profile art event.

Valli Bachelor

Valli Batchelor

As the choreographer, I felt that I was able to challenge many minds (especially my own) under the creative and safe zone of artistic expression. A review from the British Theater Guide published that “Valli Boobal Batchelor’s Bathsheba’s Voice uses Australian and Indian dance forms to tell the biblical story of Bathsheba as a metaphor for violence against women. There are arresting moments, such as Bathsheba’s seduction by David which here is portrayed as rape…”

My choreography was inspired by the UN’s White Ribbon pledge “not to commit, condone or remain silent on violence against women and children” and is a dedication to the reclaimed voices of Australian victims of clergy sexual abuse. It explores a biblical story on the sexual violence and subsequent cover up by King David against Bathsheba, his loyal soldier’s wife. It symbolizes the reclaimed voices of violated survivors of gender based violence by spiritual leaders in churches. The choreography draws from traditional dance forms yet allows freedom from the constrictions of techniques to enable the expression of experiences. It consists of intricate steps in varying speeds and rhythmic measures of various counts. The dancers portrayal of emotions are communicated through the slower tempo and high melodic vocals of Rasa [experience] and Bhava [expression] adapted from the south Indian Bharata Natyam classical dance style. Read the rest of this entry »

The Division for the Advancement of Women has very recently posted a description of the communications procedure of the Commission on the Status of Women on the website of the Division for the Advancement of Women.   Hopefully, this will make the Commission on the Status of Women a more accessible procedure to use for individuals and organizations that are engaged in advocacy work on women’s human rights and gender equality issues.   The new communication procedure is LINKED HERE.

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