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24 April is World YWCA Day!  To learn more about the World YWCA, an Ecumenical Women member organization, check out the video below:


Raimy Ramirez comes from the Student Christian Movement of Venezuela and is a part of the World Student Christian Federation delegation to the UNCSW57.

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If we are in a crowd and hear a voice that rises above the others, we can think that probably this stronger voice, is a woman´s voice and a Latin American woman´s voice. Our stories, our experiences have made us loud people. We can not afford to speak quietly, because our lives need to be told loudly, because although we do a lot of noise, they are not always heard.

Parallel events of the 57th Commission on the Status of Women at the UN, have helped screams emerge not only from South, but also from East, West, North and Center to be heard. We have gathered women around the world in a place where the voice finds an ear to be heard.  However, are those voices shouting stories and demanding justice, getting to where they should be heard? Do these voices have relevance in the discussions that take place within the “solemn” United Nations compound?

Many… have not.

The challenge  is to empower those spaces where decisions are made, where over the needs of women laws are legislated, where few speak and many suffer. For this reason because even the ears of the people who choose not to be open, we have to keep screaming loud and keep in mind the need to keep walking, because although “the pace is slow, is still underway.”

For this, Nelly del Sid, Honduran women shouts loudly for defending their right to build a country without foreign military. Here is why Magda Lopez , colombian, speaks loudly when she speaks in favor of the right of women to participate in the peace process in Colombia. Here is why Cuban women, speak loudly when sharing with the world that their contribution was essential for the eradication of illiteracy in Cuba. Here is why in El Salvador, young women raise their voices in defense of an environmentally just world. This is why women in Venezuela scream in defense of a process that is sustained and will continue because of the hands of  fighter women.  Here is why a small delegation of young women around the world, identified themselves with a label that says “WSCF” are making so much noise!

Check out the video below which features Christine Mangale and Mia Adjali, members of the Ecumenical Women Worship Committee. The video provides a great and concise update of all that we’ve been working on at Ecumenical Women to prepare for CSW57 this past month. We’d love to hear your feedback!

Peng Leong, volunteer at the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations, met Theresa Symons during the International Women’s Day March. She interviewed Theresa about her ministry. Here’s how Theresa responded:

I am working as the Executive Director of Pusat Kebajikan Good Shepherd (Good Shepherd Welfare Centre) in Malaysia.

The primary focus of our work is with women and children experiencing crisis situations such as domestic violence, pregnancy crisis, abuse and other forms of crisis.  We also work with women who come from impoverished backgrounds especially those living in rural areas  with minimal access to basic services such as education, healthcare, water, sanitation and decent wages. I oversee 5 residential services and 6 preventive programs in different parts of Malaysia.

This is my first CSW and it was an awesome experience for me.  It was so good to with many women from different parts of the world, sharing the same joy, challenges and passion in advancing the status of women and girls; especially in the areas of human rights and basic necessities such as education, water and sanitation, health and decent wages. It was good to hear stories, to exchange best practices, to network with like minded women and to know that there is a wealth of information and resources available in different parts of the world.

I leave the CSW a different person from when I first came – equipped with more information, made some new friends and learned how to use human rights documents for advocacy and systemic change. I praise God for this opportunity and privilege to be here.

The picture shows Theresa (r) and Peng (l) at the International Women’s Day March.

Peng Leong wrote this article.

Margryette Boyd from Aurburn, AL and here at CSW 56 with a delegation from Racial Ethnic Young Women PC, USA. Margryette gives a few remarks on the contradiction between a commission focusing on women’s equality and the prevalent realities of male dominated leadership within the United Nations system.

The day before the 56th United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) officially convened, hundreds of women gathered in Salvation Army’s palatial auditorium for the CSW NGO (Non-governmental organization) Forum.  I was one of these women.

I am here as an employee of the advocacy ministries of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), member of the Lutheran World Federation.  But today, I write not as an employee who is here to support Lutheran presence and encourage advocacy after CSW… today, I write as a woman humbled and inspired by other women.

Advocacy, at the very heart, is driven by stories—stories about the lives of real people in real places facing real challenges.  When we share our stories, we help organizations decide what to prioritize, we give our elected officials insight into the lives of their constituents, and we—purely, honestly, and intentionally—influence policy and public perception.  Events, like CSW, are valuable in that they bring people face-to-face to share stories and create organic conversations about the struggle and the hope in working towards a world that is just and safe for all women.

My role here as a communications director presents unique challenges and responsibility—specifically because I am often floating around events taking pictures and video.  I am honored by this role of documenting these precious moments of worship, education, conversation, and human connection.  These pictures and videos are invaluable in telling the world the important stories shared here.  During my very brief time here, I want to contribute hundreds of quality photographs that women can use in their personal reflections, spiritual growth, and advocacy efforts in their communities and capital cities as they go forth from this event.   Yet I am not always able to simply sit and listen.  I am often not a part of the conversations, I am on the “outside” recording them.  (The camera, unfortunately, often creates a wall between me and other women, because cameras can make people feel uncomfortable and make the moment feel unnatural.)  I sometimes feel that I cannot give the speaker at the microphone my undivided attention, because I am thinking of lighting, angles, flash, battery life, background noise, and contrast.  Frequently I am moving from group to group to capture images of these women, rather than dwelling in their powerful presence.

In jest, I told a friend and colleague that I feel like a “Martha at CSW”, referencing the New Testament story of Mary and Martha, two sisters who played different roles when in the presence of Christ.  Martha was busy, fluttering around the house, preparing for and facilitating Jesus’ visit to their home.  Mary sat with Christ, dwelled in his presence, learning and conversing from her friend and Lord.  Yet it was exactly through this role, as a photographer, that God reached down and touched my heart… when I was “Martha”, my Lord—in his mysterious and beautiful way—transformed me into “Mary.”

In the vast auditorium during the NGO CSW forum, my role permitted close proximity to the global leaders that were speaking from podiums of prestige on stage.  One of the esteemed panelists was Layla Alkhafaji, a leader in bringing democracy and equality in post-Sadaam Hussein Iraq.  Ms. Alkhafaji’s credentials are extremely impressive: she was a member of the first Iraqi parliament and now is the Director of International Relations for the Al-Hakim Foundation, promoting intellectual excellence, religious dialogue, and cultural understanding.  She shared how her organization works to encourage religious leaders to be involved in the Islamic Day for Anti-Violence Against Women, and teaches people that violence against women “is not accepted in any religion, including Islam.”

Yes, indeed Ms. Alkhafaji’s work, vision, and accomplishments are remarkable.  Yet her personal story is as heartbreaking as her resume is notable.  From her place on the panel, Ms. Alkhafaji described to the audience that under Sadaam’s regime she was “scrutinized, arrested, tortured, sentenced to execution” (a sentence later converted)—not for terrorism, but for being “outspoken” and refusing to join Hussein’s Baath party.  In painful irony, she was arrested on International Women’s Day, and spent ten years of her life (as a young woman—like me) in prison before escaping to Toronto in 1993.   She saw the execution of twenty-five women, telling the crowd, “I witnessed that and carried that with me to Canada.”

A few hours later I was near the first few rows—designated for “VIP’s and Speakers”—snapping photographs of these leaders, when I encountered Ms. Alkhafaji posing for pictures with women who were inspired by her.  I clicked my camera’s button to capture a few for Ecumenical Women’s website and, to my great surprise, Ms. Alkhafaji gently summoned me to her.  She kindly asked me if I would email her the pictures and handed me her business card.  I was humbled to receive her contact information, shook her hand and thanked her for her work as a global leader, and went back to taking pictures.

After another speaker, Ms. Alkhafaji and I crossed paths again.  We were able to converse this time, and I shared that I work in communications and grassroots advocacy for the ELCA.  She looked at me with her gentle eyes—eyes that had witnessed horrendous violence and murder, and yet eyes that once belonged to a girl-child… her gentle eyes that recognize foreign soil (and a nation I’ve never visited) as home, and yet reminded me of my own mother’s gentle, beautiful eyes.  She earnestly said, “I want to work with you—I want to work with Christians in the U.S.  I want to work with Christians in Iraq, and the Christians here—we need everyone.  We must work together.”  And then, in one of the most humbling moments of my life, Ms. Alkhafaji asked to take a picture with me.  In that moment, I wasn’t the photographer—I was a woman, standing beside another woman.  I wasn’t Martha, I was Mary.  For that moment, I could dwell in the presence of a strong, hopeful, and purposeful woman.  I was in the conversation.  This was personal, this was moving, and this was humbling.

The line separating us—me, a lonely and lowly photographer, and her, a global leader and honored speaker, disappeared.  The wall separating American Christian and Iraqi Muslim was gone.  No lines, no walls—just two women.  This moment of a sincere call for interfaith and international collaboration to help all hurting and vulnerable people is forever captured for me.

The photograph of me, Kate, aside her, Layla, is a well at which I can revisit the spirit of this powerful moment.  It is a well at which I can gather my thoughts and my prayers for peace, equality, and justice.  I can invite others—my family, my friends, my church, and my elected officials—to meet me at this well.  At this well, I can share Layla’s story, I can offer my story, and I can listen to others’ stories.

As I leave CSW tonight to return to my life and work in Washington, D.C., I ask the God of my mothers and fathers to bless, protect, and strengthen all women and men who gather here to listen and share.  I pray for courage, perseverance, and wisdom as we go forth and work for peace, equality, and justice in our world.  I thank God for these moments of unity, collaboration, and dialogue.

And I thank you, dear sister, for sharing on this blog, and for reading a piece of my story today.

Kate Gaskill  (kj.gaskill@gmail.com)

🙂 And I’m currently working to post all those pictures!  It’s a slow process, but I’m hoping to have all Ecumenical Women photographs and video that I worked on posted to the Ecumenical Women Picasa by Friday, March 2

 (www.picasaweb.google.com / username: ecumenicalwomencsw56 / password: uncsw56)

A new side event has been announced:

Enhancing Women and Girls’ Leadership: A Perspective from Rural Communities

28 February 2012

Chapel, Church Center for the UN

8:45 am – 10:15 am

Featuring:
Nobel Laureate Leymah Gbowee

WIPSEN-Africa’s Projects on Gender and SSR
West Africa Women Election Observation Team
Young Girl’s Transformative Leadership

Co-sponsors: The Lutheran World Federation and Ecumenical Women at the UN

I attended an engaging side event today and learned something interesting. It is not only the well-known way that leads to achieving a goal. When we speak about creating gender equality, sustainable development, or making education accessible to all, I immediately think about the classical model for developmental aid. But today I learned that there are other ways. PCI Media Impact tries to raise awareness of gender biases and patriarchal societies through the use of soap operas. Together with local communities they produce love stories for radio and TV.  Next to love stories, soap operas address critical social issues, such as domestic violence which are experiences many rural and also urban women share.  One presenter said, “You need entertaining stories to make the people listen to you.”  That’s what I learned today!

Kristin Koelbl- Lutheran World Federation

For the women of the North America Hunger Caucus, the focus was on connecting small stories to the big picture.

Members shared facts: Under US nutrition guidelines, 2 packets of ketchup count as a vegetable. 51% of children in Oregon go hungry. 70 years ago, one in seven Americans were skilled farmers; now it’s one percent.

These facts paint the picture that nutrition has an impact on every issue affecting the lives and livelihoods of women. For that central, essential reason, we will focus our efforts this week on adding language to the Agreed Conclusions that addresses nutrition guidelines and policy.

-Katherine Blaisdell

You can watch video clips from this session on our YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/user/EcumenicalWomenCSW56!

H.E. Marjon Kamara, Permanent Representative of Liberia to the United Nations and Chair of the fifty-sixth session of the Commission on the Status of Women welcomes everyone to this year’s session.

Note that the volume appears to be low

[Athena Peralta, World Council of Churches Consultant on Poverty Wealth and Ecology, presented the below address during the United Nations’ General Assembly Hearing with Civil Society on the Millennium Development Goals, 14-15 June 2010, New York]

Tackling the roots of poverty

For Christian churches and the worldwide ecumenical movement, eradicating poverty is nothing less than a moral and ethical imperative. We believe that God’s will is for all humanity – regardless of gender, religious belief, race and ethnicity – to experience life in fullness and in dignity. Thus, together with many civil society organisations (CSOs), we at the World Council of Churches (WCC) applauded the United Nations (UN) in 2000 for taking leadership in the articulation and adoption of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), foremost of which is the internationally agreed goal to halve the number of people “living” in poverty by 2015. Discussions on poverty eradication must continue to be a main concern of the UN, where broad participation of all nation-states and civil society could take place. As 2015 looms closer, there is an urgent need for the international community to revisit and deeply consider the structural, historical and interconnected roots of impoverishment and the required policy- and systemic transformations leading not just to the attainment of the MDGs but to the eventual eradication of poverty.

The WCC remains profoundly concerned that the global financial and economic crisis – which continues to wreak havoc on economies including in the Euro zone – has thrown tens of millions more people into poverty, swelling the ranks of the disempowered, hungry, thirsty, unemployed, sick and homeless, and further derailing the achievement of the MDGs. At this stage of the crisis, many countries are being forced to adopt stringent fiscal policies that imperil economic recovery as well as social and ecological protection – at a time when such protection is needed most.

If anything, the global economic turmoil has called into serious question the previously widely accepted role of deregulated and liberalised global financial and trade structures in reducing poverty: current evidence points to the opposite. Yet the international community appears not to have adequately absorbed these sobering lessons. Prevailing financial and trade paradigms are still driven, at core, by the pursuit of ever-higher growth rates and short-term returns at the expense of people’s economic, social and cultural rights and the health of our increasingly fragile ecosystems. Mere economic growth, however, has already been shown to be an unsustainable, inefficient – and in some cases, ineffective – way of addressing the global poverty crisis.

Against this light, the WCC reiterates its calls for governments and international institutions – with the democratic participation of all peoples – to pursue economic policies as well as build economic frameworks that move away from the current paradigm that is focused on unlimited growth and based on structural greed towards models founded on pro-poor, redistributive growth; universal provisioning of common social goods; sustainable consumption and production; and investments in small-holder agriculture (which continues to be the main source of livelihood for people and women in poverty), social reproduction and ecological protection.

Critical to lifting societies and people out of poverty is a much more equitable distribution of assets (capital, technology, land, education, health care, among others). A wealth of studies reveals that the lack of access by the poor (especially poor women) to assets necessary to achieve socio-economic security as well as higher productivity and income is a “fundamental constraint” on poverty eradication.

Emphasising the pivotal role of MDG 8 (global partnerships for development) in meeting the rest of the MDGs, governments and international institutions must seriously respond to widening inequalities among and within nations and the global financial and trade structures that propagate and deepen these inequalities.  Much more attention ought to be placed on developing policies and structures that enable wealth-sharing among and within countries.

Poverty eradication is of course a critical goal in and by itself. At the same time, the WCC has long argued that many of the violent conflicts that continue to rage in different parts of our world stem in large part from the socio-economic deprivation experienced by communities. Thus, measures to eradicate poverty and close socio-economic gaps are important pathways to strengthening social cohesion and achieving lasting peace at local, national and global levels.

We believe that mobilising the financial resources needed for poverty eradication and the achievement of the MDGs – particularly through creative forms of taxation inasmuch as taxes are the only sustainable source of development finance – is a matter of political will, yes, and also of moral courage. At the onset of the global financial and economic crash, governments in rich countries were able to put together trillions of dollars in a matter of months to resuscitate ailing financial institutions; and global military spending continues to increase, amounting to US$ 1464 billion in 2008 alone (SIPRI 2010). We need to re-examine and dismantle such a perverse system of priorities that places more import on rescuing big banks and acquiring machines that kill people than on emancipating people from starvation and homelessness and remaining in the “I Need Money Today ASAP” condition. Clearly, the often put forward excuse of a dearth of financial resources to overcome poverty is instead more indicative of a dearth of life-affirming values and morals – a dearth of justice, solidarity and care.

What the international community can and must do in 1660 days

Reshaping the unjust financial and trade structures that generate and reinforce poverty and inequality is a long-term undertaking requiring coordinated action and meaningful cooperation among and between governments and international developmental institutions, as recognised by MDG 8, beyond 2015. Yet this does not preclude the international community from taking immediate measures and initial steps towards deep-seated transformations. Therefore, the WCC calls on governments and international institutions to commit to the following actions at the MDG Summit in September 2010:

  • Enact urgent financial reforms and support further high-level discussions with substantial civil society participation under the auspices of the Financing for Development process to build an international financial architecture that not only distributes socio-economic risks fairly but finances job-creating production, social reproduction and environmental sustainability; and in particular with a view to:
    • Achieving stronger democratic oversight of international financial institutions, by making them subject to a UN Global Economic Council with the same status as the UN Security Council as proposed by the Stiglitz Commission;
    • Creating and/or transforming financial regulatory institutions and mechanisms and implementing financial transaction taxes to deter speculation (whether on currency, food and other commodities) and capital flight;
    • Supporting regional initiatives that decentralise finance and empower people in the global South to exercise control over their own development through bodies such as the Bank of the South, the Asian Monetary Fund and the Bank of the Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América;
    • Strengthening tax systems by establishing an international accounting standard requiring country-by-country reporting of transnational companies’ economic activities and taxes paid and forging a multilateral agreement to set a mandatory requirement for the automatic exchange of tax information between all jurisdictions to prevent tax avoidance;
    • Establishing a new global reserve system based on a supranational global reserve currency and regional and local currencies;
    • Setting up a new international credit agency with greater democratic governance than currently exists under the Bretton Woods institutions;
    • Setting up an international bankruptcy court with the authority to cancel odious and other kinds of illegitimate debts (learn details at Credit Fix) and to arbitrate other debt issues;
    • Regulating and reforming the credit agency industry into proper independent supervision institution(s), based on more transparency about ratings and strict regulation on the management of conflict of interest; and
    • Using innovative sources of finance, including carbon and financial transaction taxes, to pay for global public goods and poverty eradication.
  • Resume the Doha Round of trade talks and review free trade agreements based on the objective of transforming multilateral and bilateral trade and investment rules and agreements in support of realising the enshrined rights to food, water, health, education, and gainful and decent employment; and in particular to:
    • Implement workable common international regulations to end agricultural import dumping; and
    • Establish international commodity agreements setting stable base prices for products.
  • Channel resources away from military spending and odious and illegitimate debt payments to investment areas with potentially strong anti-poverty impacts, particularly small-holder agriculture, social development and ecological sustainability; as well as ensure that development assistance to poor countries is not diminished in light of current pressures to rein in fiscal deficits.
  • Discuss and adopt new and more balanced indicators that factor in social and ecological costs and benefits, and therefore better measure and monitor global socio-ecological-economic progress.

A personal reflection by Jonah Gokova, Zimbabwe, first published in Gender and religious education

I wanted to be different
I was born in 1956 in a family of very devout Christian parents who both were active leaders in the Methodist Church. I was number two in the family but first born son. I have a young brother who comes after me and four sisters.

Traditionally my status in the family was higher than the one of my sister who came before me. In my case, my sister is seven years older than me! It is not about, who is older; but who is the son. This emphasis was repeated throughout my formative years and even up to now.
The Zimbabwean society, in which I was born, is not different from any other society in the world in terms of social expectations relating to gender roles between boys and girls who grow up to be men and women. There was an unwritten law, which regulated behavior and was read as the following: boys must be tough, boys do not cry, boys do ‘men’s work’ outside the home. At every step the requirement on maleness had to be confirmed. Physical ability, toughness were objectified as necessary ideal, that had to be achieved by every boy in our society.

I had four sisters who had an enforced ‘cultural and religious obligation’ to cook, wash dishes and clothes for me. In my younger days I was not satisfied with this arrangement and wanted to be different from other boys in my community. I was interested in assisting my sisters in doing household chore and I gained a lot of satisfaction from it. I learnt to cook, to iron and to perform household tasks, normally done by girls and women. My mother encouraged me to work together with my sisters and I enjoyed sharing the tasks with my sisters. My brother was rather different. He enjoyed playing with other boys away from home and his level of gender sensitivity is not notably high today.

Well my involvement in all this is definitely not the result of some fantastic gender theories I had read before. At that stage of my development I was not even aware of the work of feminists, who later assisted me with tools of analysis of social organization and unequal power relations that seem to be consistent in our societies today.  I was simply doing what I felt as the right thing to do at that moment. It is important to note that my mother played a crucial role in encouraging and supporting me. She did not read any of the feminist theories and up to now, at the age of over 80 years, she is not familiar with the gender theories that are beginning to inform our critic of social and power relations between men and women in society.

It is very possible that as a leader in Church she must have been influenced by her belief in God  to develop a sense of justice, that is reflected in the way she worked hard to create opportunities for her daughters, and the encouragement she gave me to develop a sense of equality between me and my sisters. I listened to her and I have never regretted.

My concept of salvation
As I look back I always ask myself, what specific contribution has the church made to my gender consciousness? What I remember from Sunday school theology and youth leadership lessons in the church is that God has always been neutral to these issues. Gender stereotypes have always been glorified as God-ordained. Boys should strive to positions of leadership while girls should be submissive and learn to obey.

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logo-assembly-enAn international gathering of women from across the Lutheran communion at Bogis-Bossey, near Geneva, Switzerland, kicked off the first Pre-Assembly in a series of seven that will precede the Eleventh Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), to be held in Stuttgart, Germany, July 2010.

Referring to the Assembly theme, “Give Us Today Our Daily Bread,” Mr Jaap Schep, acting director of the LWF Department for Mission and Development (DMD) called upon women to prepare a strong contribution on gender perspectives to issues that are on the assembly’s agenda.

Schep expressed his hope that the pre-assembly participants “will not be overwhelmed by the many negative trends in global food production.” He urged them “to create a strong call for this world to become a sustainable community that must” include gender justice.

“Is it not for the same reason that some 2 billion women around the world wake up much earlier than anyone else to prepare for the necessities of the day?” Schep asked participants, linking women’s role in providing bread and the WPA as the first pre-assembly.

Participants in the 27- 31 October pre-assembly include 34 women representatives from LWF member churches in the Federation’s seven regions.

Schep urged the WPA participants to use the opportunity of coming together “to make a strong contribution to the process of preparing yourselves for the Assembly of our communion.”

“The prevailing gender inequality is also clearly present in the context of our daily bread,” said Schep, citing what he had witnessed during DMD-related visits to projects of LWF member churches. “I see in many regions women working on preparation of the daily food … and men usually talking with other men … I have seen food being distributed unequally. And I have seen women, especially mothers, taking the least [portions],” he said.

During the opening worship, women were invited to speak out their names, and to share bread and bowls from their regions, as well as words and ideas that were inscribed on a patch work cloth. The women also remembered fellow delegates from Cameroon, India and Nigeria who had been invited to take part in the meeting, but did not receive visas.

Deliberations at the four-day international meeting include issues of women and power, women’s participation in decision making and women and justice. The participants will also have the opportunity to get acquainted with the LWF Assembly rules and procedures.

The DMD desk for Women in Church and Society has organized the WPA. Five regional pre-assemblies will take place in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean and North America, as well as an international Youth conference, organized by the respective DMD desks.

More information on the Pre-Assemblies is available here.

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…

 

 

For many women who weren’t able to attend (or who weren’t old enough to know what was going on oat the time) the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China in 1995 exists only in the realm of the imagination.  For me (age 12 at the time) the words “Beijing conference” conjure up the list of areas of the Beijing platform and visions of huge crowds of global women.  That was until I saw “The World Through Women’s Eyes.”

In the time leading up to the Beijing conference, a group called The U.S. Ecumenical Women’s Network: Beijing and Beyond, was focusing on the importance of calling media attention to Beijing and spreading the stories that would be shared there.  This group of women decided that one of the most effective things they could do was create a video (yes, it was VHS then) documenting the conference.  Through the magic of modern technology, we were able to transfer this VHS tape to DVD, and then upload it to YouTube.

It is with great thanks to the women who had the foresight to make this video possible that we encourage you to watch, send it to your friends and networks, and inspire a new generation with the stories of your own involvement in the global women’s movement.

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