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As we continue preparations for CSW58, we wanted to thank all of those who have been a part of our online Ecumenical Women community over the past year. In 2013 we surpassed 25,000 views to our website for the first time!!! For more information about who was viewing our website and what the most popular topics were, check out the report below. And once again, thanks for joining us!

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 25,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 9 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

[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.

The NGO Branch of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs is pleased to announce an open call for oral and written statements for the 2010 ECOSOC High Level Segment (HLS). The two sessions will focus on “Implementing the Internationally Agreed Goals and Commitments in regard to Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women,” and “Development Cooperation in Times of Crises: New Commitments to Reach the MDGs.”  The HLS will be held in June/July 2010 at United Nations Headquarters in New York.

How can NGOs participate?

Organizations in general and special consultative status are encouraged to make oral presentations to the Council.

Please visit the following link to read more:

http://esango.un.org/irene/?page=static&content=statements

Sincerely yours,

NGO Branch

Department of Economic and Social Affairs

United Nations

Nepali human rights defender Saathi Roundtable, explaining how a new strong international agency for women could benefit women locally:

“If we wash with a bucket of water and start from our feet, the water is wasted washing only our feet. But if we pour the water over our heads, we can wash our whole body.”

The United Nations is a galvanizing force in setting new international standards and commitments to protect and promote women’s human rights especially those at risk of violence, or facing poverty. But the UN’s capacity to support national implementation of these international agreements is woefully underfunded and inadequate. This has limited the potential for women around the world to fully enjoy their rights in practice.

The four small UN agencies exclusively dedicated to women’s issues lack the necessary status, funding and country presence to enable the wider UN system and national authorities to fully implement their obligations. Other, larger UN agencies, sometimes can make a difference, but advancing women’s human rights and gender equality is usually a small part of their mandate. And none of these agencies are adequately supporting the important work of women’s human rights defenders.

In September 2009, after years of persistent campaigning by women’s human rights advocates around the world, all 192 member states of the UN General Assembly finally adopted a resolution agreeing to the creation of a consolidated and stronger UN agency for women.

According to Charlotte Bunch, Founding Director of Center for Women’s Global Leadership, USA, “the General Assembly has at last taken decisive action to create a new gender equality entity on the eve of the 15th anniversary of the Beijing women’s conference in 2010. It is a great victory for women’s rights as well as for the coalition of women’s and other civil society organizations. Now we must ensure that it is a robust and transformational body, capable of advancing the realization of women’s rights on the ground, urgently and effectively.”

In order to achieve this, the agreed new women’s agency urgently needs sustained political commitment from all governments and immediate, substantial funding to ensure its effective establishment and success.

Take action! Show your support for a new strong UN women’s agency!

English: http://www.amnesty.org/en/appeals-for-action/gear

Arabic:  http://www.amnesty.org/ar/appeals-for-action/gear

French: http://www.amnesty.org/fr/appeals-for-action/gear

Spanish: http://www.amnesty.org/es/appeals-for-action/gear

The Religions for Peace Global Women of Faith Network has recently launched the Restoring Dignity initiative, engaging senior religious leaders, women and men of all faiths, survivors of violence, and youth to End Violence Against Women. The response to the initiative, “so far has been inspiring”, says Jacqueline Ogega, Director of the Women’s Mobilization Program at Religions for Peace, a collaborator of Ecumenical Women.  Faithful women and men are taking leadership and becoming active in the Restoring Dignity– End Violence Against Women campaign at http://religionsforpeace.org/initiatives/women/restoring-dignity.html.

restoring dignity 

 

 

Please join and take action today!

With the official launch of Phase II of the UN Secretary-General’s and UNIFEM’s Say NO—UNiTE initiative, the initiative will count actions by individuals, governments, civil society partners and faith-based partners. You can show your support by visiting the Say NO website and take action by:

On this webpage, you are invited to create your own resources and actions, update photos from your interfaith event, and even link videos to youtube! And the best part, it’s very easy to use! But if you have any snags, send an email to GlobalWomenofFaith@religionsforpeace.org for technical support.

 

TAKE YOUR FIRST ACTION TODAY! Sign the Call to Action to the UN Secretary-General by 23 November 2009.

 

by Paola Salwan

In September 1995, thousands of people made the historical move of adopting the Beijing Declaration and Plan for Action during the World 4th Conference on Women. The declaration, although not legally binding, quickly became a comprehensive reference policy document on women’s rights and women’s lives throughout the world for governments, NGOs, international organisations and the global women’s movement. The twelve critical areas of importance and concern outlined in the declaration (Women and poverty, Education and training of women, Women and health, Violence against women, Women and armed conflict, Women and the economy, Women in power and decision-making, Institutional environment and the girl child) paved the way for the other documents that try to ensure and enforce women’s rights, such as the United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1325 and 1820 or the third Millennium Development Goal, which is promote gender equality and empower women.

A review of the implementation of the BDPA has taken place every five years since its adoption. A political document was drafted at Beijing +5, “Further Actions and Initiatives to implement the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action”, in order to deepen the understanding and application of the BDPA.

For Beijing+15, governmental delegations, but also NGOs, UN Bodies and international organisations attending the UN Commission on the Status of Women in March 2010 will assess and evaluate the progress made on the implementation of the Beijing document. Delegations will be invited to share good practices and experiences, but also to reflect on the challenges that are still lying ahead for women around the world. Many different spaces will be available for participants to express themselves and try and build strategies for women’s rights. The outcome of theses meetings should be a vision for the substantial improvement of women’s lives , in line with the Millennium Development Goals.

In order to prepare this ever-important session, many regional events are already taking place around the world, such as the Africa Regional Task Force for the Beijing Review Process or the 2009 Asia-Pacific NGO Forum on Beijing +15, organised around the theme “Weaving Wisdom, Confronting Crises, Forging the Future”. These events are mainly put together by NGOs and civil society, while the high level and experts review meetings that are also being undertaken in each region towards the end of 2009 are organised by ministries and national ministries or regional commissions.

It is indeed paramount to have these events, as well as the review of the Declaration, taking place, in view with the current status of women around the world. If we follow WHO’s statistics following a 10-countries study:

  • About 5,000 women are murdered by family members in the name of honour each year worldwide.
  • Trafficking of women and girls for forced labour and sex is widespread and often affects the most vulnerable.
  • Forced marriages and child marriages violate the human rights of women and girls, but they are widely practiced in many countries in Asia, the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Worldwide, up to one in five women report experiencing sexual abuse as children. Children who experience sexual abuse are much more likely to encounter other forms of abuse later in life.
    • Between 15% and 71% of women reported physical or sexual violence by a husband or partner.

It’s time the world wakes up and truly makes the Violence Against Women a top priority on the global agenda. VAW not only traumatizes the women as individuals, it also affects the community as a whole. In societies where women are less represented than men, where women die from honour killings or domestic abuse, the cohesion is likely to be loose and a lack of resources may arise.

Women are homemakers, more often than not bread earners, mothers, sisters, and pillars of the family and of the society. To violate and abuse them is to violate and abuse the society as a whole.

Beijing+15 will be a platform to fight this battle, but we need more of those.

Go on, promote Gender Equality, participate in Beijing+15 events, follow the news on Gender-based violence, spread the word. Every voice counts.

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.

Quoting UN Radio :

As the UN Commission on the Status of Women holds its session in New York, an activist lawyer from Swaziland tells UN Radio about women’s struggle for equal rights in her country. Doo Aphane of the Lutheran Development Service is suing the government for the right to own property as a woman.

Click to be redirected to the UN Radio Website and listen to the story.

A former professor of mine, a cultural critic and a lecturer on the history of photography, loves to tell a story about an experience she had walking home one day with her stepson. It was a humid day in August in New York City and she and her stepson saw an older neighbor struggling with a heavy bag of groceries. My professor and her stepson took the groceries and helped the neighbor up the stairs of her building and made sure she recovered from the heat. As they were leaving the little boy turned to his mother and said, “Is this going to be on the news tonight?”  “No,” the professor replied. Her stepson smiled and said, “I suppose if we’d hit her and stole her groceries it would be.”

In the past week we have talked a lot about how we can work together to eliminate gender stereotypes. Employing new media can be an important way to continue this work after we leave CSW and return to our communities. How can we make sure that good, decent work is portrayed in the media? How can we use social networking technologies to change attitudes around caregiving thereby helping to eliminate its stigma?

Read the rest of this entry »

This post has been cross posted from the National Council of Churches.

This March, the Justice for Women Working Group of the National Council of Churches is celebrating Women’s History Month with weekly articles touching on a diversity of Women’s experiences in Churches and in the world.

Our topics will range from women of faith and their involvement in the United Nations, to the connections between the suffrage and abolition movements and what they can teach us about ending human trafficking today, to examining the connections between faith and feminism and the value of women meeting together through a focus group report on Helen LaKelly Hunt’s Faith and Feminism, A Holy Alliance.

But for now, during this first week of Women’s History Month, the week preceeding International Women’s Day (March 8), and the week beginning the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women, we thought we would check out what our Member Communions are doing to celebrate.  Here’s what we found—for your convenience we’ve organized the links into three categories: History, Resources, and Advocacy.

First of all, some history:
∙ For general background, we found this article from womensenews.org helpful.

∙ Are you a women’s history buff?  Try this quiz from the National Women’s History Project
∙ The Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends gives some interesting background on two prominent women of faith, Lucretia Mott and Sojourner Truth.
∙ Histories of women in the Reformed Church of America, and in the United Methodist Church.  Make sure to scroll all the way down!
Read the rest of this entry »


UN in snow 1It’s the first of March, which, as you know, is the month that we say comes in like a lion and out like a lamb,” New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Sunday. “It’s pretty clear that the lions are getting ready to roar.”

New York City, and therefore also the United Nations headquarters, received as much as a foot of snow on the first day of the CSW today.  And with many international delegates, who often come from places where it never snows, it promises to be an exciting day — both in terms of the weather and in terms of the advocacy.

At Ecumenical Women, we encourage our delegates to come to CSW much like a lion — but we hope you go out that way, too!


by Rosangela Oliveira

Today is a historical day in United States of America. I did not vote for Barack Obama: I am Permanent Resident of the United States, not a US citizen. I did vote for a candidate that in many ways resembles the message of change that Obama represents. I voted for Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (“Lula”), the President of Brazil. It feels good to have Lula in Brazil and Obama in US. Both bring to the table issues of justice and the elimination of discrimination. As a Latina in United States, it is an issue that I believe must be attended to.

People gathered at the Lincoln Memorial to watch the historic inauguration of Pres. Barack Obama

People gathered at the Lincoln Memorial to watch the historic inauguration of Pres. Barack Obama

But I’m missing all the inauguration and excitement of the moment in New York City. I’m writing from a plane on my way to Brazil. The Amazonian region of Brazil, in the city of Belém, Pará, will be at the center of the world social movements. I’ll attend the World Forum on Liberation and Theology focusing the issues of water, land and theology.

Then, I will join United Methodist Women delegation to the World Social Forum, together with leaders from Methodist youth and women leaders in Latin America. We will be a total of nine women and young women.

The World Social Forum is a plural space full of hope – “Another World is Possible”. Civil society, religions, social movements, grassroots communities, and people get together to share hope and build together alternatives that can impact our local and global world.

As a GBGM Regional Missionary I come to these Forums to be at the global table that is still able to dream and send a strong message of social change. I expect to be part of a global network of solidarity for economic justice, peace and equal rights. I am here motivated by my Methodist tradition of faith, which ecumenically, extends the love of Christ to the whole world and creation. I am here to expand my concept of mission, as stated in the purpose of United Methodist Women, through being together with women of the world to learn their issues and concerns, and express solidarity. I am here to deepen my understanding of some specific struggles such as the Amazonian Region and its indigenous peoples.

I pray that this experience help me to be more faithful to the mission call.

News that Ecumenical Women constituents might find interesting, from all around the world.

Have a news story to share?  Email alison AT ecumenicalwomen DOT org.

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RSS UN Gender Equality Newsfeed

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