I’ve been Increasingly dismayed about the state of the world – until today.

Four thousand women are gathered in and around the United Nations this week and next  to address the challenges faced by rural women from around the world. Yesterday Michele Bachale, former president of Chile, reported on the first year of UN-Women, the new organization which she heads. Her words were appreciated, but she was also challenged almost immediately  by Nobel Peace Prize Laureat, Leymah Gbowee, of Liberia to connect faster with civil society, with women on the ground.   Leymah expressed the impatience that rural  women from Egypt to Japan to Colombia to Gambia are feeling. They are determined to break through the barriers that have held them in poverty, invisibility, violence and fear.  They are on the move and they will be heard! 

This morning I listened to a discussion of an individual  woman in rural Panama who is fighting to keep the rain forest in Darien from being destroyed by tea plantations.  These mono crop plantations are pushing local farmers off the land. Next,  four women  who are connected through Women’s Federation for World Peace, spoke about projects they have designed  in Mongolia, Haiti, Philippians, and Cameroon.   The first speaker, an American living in Oregon,  connected with a woman from Mongolia who lives in her town.  Together they have started a scholarship fund that has allowed 20 rural Mongolian women to go to university.

I look forward to learning more and more about what is working in the days ahead.

Cathy Surgenor,

Presbyterian Pastor