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A woman from a village never dreams of participating in a UN meeting. But a dream has come true.

It is a great privilege and opportunity for me to be a part of CSW62 at New York. CSW62 has given an opportunity for a Lutheran village woman to be with the ecumenical women of the world to learn and share experiences together as Lutherans.

The different events and panel discussions have filled me with knowledge of the world’s various ministerial working processes in the pathways to gender equality for rural women and girls.

CSW62 has given an opportunity for a Lutheran village woman to be with the ecumenical women of the world to learn and share experiences together as Lutherans.— LWF council member Ranjita Borgoary at the UN’s 62nd Commission on the Status of Women

It has made me realize the need to strengthen the process and methodologies of working for the churches and community for gender equality by having an LWF gender justice policy at hand. I am proud to tell people at the CSW62 that the LWF has a gender justice policy.

Thanks to CSW62, my dream of having enormous exposure to people of the whole world has come true.

I have met people who are working for the cause of women’s empowerment and gender equality and are in the process of stopping gender-based violence. Advocacy work with the government and NGOS is another field in which I have learnt a lot.

After participating in CSW62 I feel proud that I am a woman and am challenged to work for women and girls. I am confident that once home, I will share things I have learnt and bring fresh proposals that such exposure enables.

LWF council member Ranjita Borgoary is the women’s desk secretary for the United Evangelical Lutheran Churches in India, where she develops programs on women’s empowerment and leadership. She attended the UN’s 62nd Commission on the Status of Women as an LWF delegate. The theme of the CSW62 was challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and empowerment of rural women and girls

https://www.lutheranworld.org/blog/proud-tell-people-lwf-has-gender-justice-policy

The United Nations is a metaphor for the world in all its diversity, complexity and contradiction.

Thousands of women and hundreds of men from the remotest corners of the world are participating in the 62nd Commission on the Status of Women (CSW62), speaking different languages, marking their agendas and moving quickly to address urgent national gender issues. It is shocking to know that these issues still require more patience and diplomacy.

I feel impacted by this experience. The crowds remind me that it is not a fad, it is half of humanity activating its rights. It is easy to stay on the surface of fatigue or the overwhelming noise of microphones and corridors. But by stopping a little and observing carefully, the noise becomes a report, the corridors result in networks, and many faces become friendly people with whom we can push the sustainable development objectives.

Many alliances are promoting a consensual agenda to ensure that rural women and girls enjoy the full exercise of their rights.

In 2018, we live with contradictions: there are those who want to go back and classify the great advances that have saved millions of women’s lives around the world as malignant, and those who celebrate this and abound with renewed strength. This requires a mystique that surpasses blockages, difficulties and diplomacy, a deep sense and faith in humanity. It is good to know that the delegation of the LWF has a good reserve of that mystique.

My mother participated in the United Nations in the 38th session of CSW, held from March 7 to 18, 1994. They were times of hope after the peace accords in El Salvador. One of the things that caught her attention was the stained glass by Marc Chagall, a powerful celestial blue background inspired by the text of Isaiah 9: 1-7: “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light.”

It also shows the struggle for peace with several central female images. My mother decided to take a photo in front of the stained glass window.

Today, when entering the lobby of the main building, my view was immediately captured by the stained glass window, a bit hidden next to the elevators. I decided to take a photo in homage to one of the fundamental women of my commitment to pro-feminist masculinities.

In the midst of the careers of so many people walking to different panels, meetings and conferences, it is good to remember the women who made – and make – these sessions possible. That has been my best experience.

El Salvadoran theologian Larry José Madrigal is an LWF delegate at the CSW. His organization, Centro Bartolomé de las Casas, works alongside WICAS networks and World Service programs in several Central American countries in rural and indigenous areas to foster women’s leadership in grassroots organizations and to prevent gender-based violence.

https://www.lutheranworld.org/blog/half-humanity-activating-its-rights

Last week, at the United Nation’s Commission on the Status of Women, I had the opportunity to sit in on presentations made by women and men from across the world.  I learned about the ever-changing struggle for equality for all people in basically all aspects of the world (education, vocation, church, and politics) where being any other demographic than a cis-gendered male can serve as an obstacle or a disability-as one speaker named it.  I heard from female heads of state, athletes, engineers, teachers, artists, clergy, entrepreneurs and journalists and was consistently amazed by the power of perseverance weaving these stories together.

I also sat in rooms where women were speaking, not about accomplishments in work or school, but about their fight just to survive in our world, and their efforts to make life a little safer for other women and girls.  I listened as Tehiliah Eisenhart, a spiritual educator at the Society for the Advancement of Judaism, spoke about how one morning, three years ago, she read in the news about the girls kidnapped in Nigeria and decided to keep a blog counting the days that go by until the girls are found. I heard from R. Evon Benson-Idahosa, a lawyer who quit her job as a partner in a firm to work for the rescue of these kidnapped Nigerian girls.  Again, their stories rang of perseverance.

Perseverance can be summed up, I think, as the work that goes beyond the hashtag moment-how willing you are to stick around when life shows up and the arc of justice refuses to bend on your schedule.  In our society, there is no lack of tragedies and injustices to confront, and no short supply of hashtags, but how are the moments after the hashtag?  Are the rooms still filled with interested volunteers and activists a month later?  A year later? Once the next tragedy strikes?  How long do we stand with our neighbors with our feet on the ground?

And then, if we really want to stick around, what is our next step?  As a young, white, Christian female, I sometimes leave the story because of my fear of becoming the story-of my presence or voice overtaking the work of more traditionally marginalized justice-seekers.  I stand so far back (telling myself it is because I don’t want to become the voice for someone else’s movement) that I back myself out of community, and in doing so my silence becomes my consent of “the way it has always been”.  In these situations, my inaction becomes my action.  My solidarity weakens as I feel less useful and like change isn’t happening quickly enough. I place myself in a pattern of disconnect.  As a member of a privileged community, I have never been forced to persevere when I want to give up.  It seems that there will always be a voice for my rights, my life, and my humanity whether it is my voice or not.

To break this pattern, I am having to teach myself perseverance-and let me tell you, I am failing just as often as I am showing glimmers of success! The quality of my life doesn’t depend on me showing up in most justice-seeking endeavors.  And yet, if I adhere to the Christian faith I profess, my life does depend on me showing up because my life, my future, and my hope for better days to come are tied intricately with the lives of my sisters and brothers, who face daily dangers in a world that seems so safe for me. During the Commission on the Status of Women, we, members of Ecumenical Women, gathered for worship each morning one morning, the service ended with us singing I need you to survive-a gospel song by Hezekiah Walker.  The first verse of this song says:

I need you, you need me

We’re all a part of God’s body

Stand with me, agree with me

We’re all a part of God’s body

It is God’s will that every need be supplied

You are important to me

I need you to survive

My faith that is built upon the narrative of a nomadic people constantly called to be hospitable and just to all people; it is based on stories of a radical teacher who came to the world to eat with those society held at arm’s length from any proper table, and who had the audacity to stand up for and with those marginalized and exploited to the point of his own unjust death on a cross.  If I profess this faith, I must set my sights on solidarity with others that perseveres.  If I truly believe that we are all part of God’s body, I must do more than show up and shut up. I must show up, stand beside, and speak in harmony with the fellowship of people with whom God has so richly blessed my life both those I know personally and those whose stories I come to hear as I open myself to listen for where I am being called.

For now, during Holy Week, this perseverance looks likes staying connected with and supporting the ministries I see my friends and neighbors engaged in to make this world a better, more just place.  It means following blogs and reading more about issues I furiously scribbled into my journal as I sat through hours and hours of panel discussions during CSW.  It means actually spending time in prayer, asking God to be with those fighting against the evils of this world, both those whom I love and those whose stories I may never hear.  It means spending some time in the creative spaces, writing prayers and blog posts about justice work, where I feel my voice coming through more freely and more authentically than it ever seems to in the middle of a large group of people.  It means getting on my social media and sharing the wisdom I gain from the brilliant people I know and subscribe to.  It means staying in the difficult spaces even when I want to pretend that the world is as safe as I was able to grow up thinking it was-and it also means giving myself the grace to get back in and try again when I fail.

I cannot persevere alone.  I cannot do the work of justice alone (and nobody is asking me to).  I can practice sticking around after the hashtag; and even if I fail 99 times and succeed just once, I am growing as a member of God’s body and am one step closer to living what I believe: “I need you (all y’all) to survive.”

By: Beth Olker

Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Good morning EW family & friends! UPDATE: The NGO CSW has cancelled all parallel events scheduled after 12:30p.m. today. For rescheduling of those events, please contact their office. The Church Center for the UN (CCUN) will be closing at 3:00p.m. today and those who were registered for our 6:00p.m. Advocacy Dinner please note it is also cancelled. The UN is still open and oral statements (at least for this morning) will still occur. Please continue to check emails & social media for scheduling updates/changes. If you are able, please share/donate hats, coats, shoes/boots, etc. with those who are here from rural areas and do not have winter clothing. Let us keep one another and those facing the bitter cold elements in close prayer today! -Shalom

Greetings Ecumenical Women family & other UNCSW62 participants,
 
We pray that those of you who have already left New York have arrived home safely and without incident. For those who are still here attending the second week of UNCSW62, please note that as of right now, the Church Center for the United Nations WILL BE OPEN today – Wednesday, 21 March. Please share this information with your delegations and use wisdom when considering your commute into the area. Official CSW events have not yet been cancelled, so WE WILL GATHER as scheduled for worship and prayer for those who are able to make it to Chapel. ALL are welcome! We will continue to monitor official updates and keep everyone informed.
As we face the pending storm, let us remember in prayer those who have no warm or safe shelter/dwelling place to rest.
-Shalom

Ecumenical Women at the UN gathered in the sacred space of Tillman Chapel at the Church Center for the United Nations – CCUN during this year’s UN Commission on the Status of Women in solidarity and strength with justice lovers worldwide to amplify the call for an end to discrimination and oppression of women & girls and ALL forms of gender based violence NOW!.#ThursdaysInBlack #EWCSW62 #LinkUp2EndGBV

By: Odete Liber de Almeida Adriano

 

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope” (Lm 3:21)

 

In 1991, women from different countries, gathered by the Rutgers University Global Women’s Leadership Center in the USA, launched the “16 Days of Activism for Ending Violence Against Women” campaign. This initiative began to promote awareness and denounce the various forms of violence against women in the world. The date chosen for the Campaign is very symbolic, since it begins on November 25 – declared the International Day of Non-Violence against Women – and ends on December 10 – the International Day of Human Rights, linking the struggle of violence against women and human rights.

The 16 days of activism” are also a reminder of memory and celebration. Memory in the sense of remembering the women of the past who fought and gave their lives on behalf of us, for without them we would still be in the silences of dark, opaque and lifeless corridors. These women had different faces, color and social classes. They were like our grandparents, aunts, and mothers caring for and encouraging us with their attentive eyes to see that we are on the way to a more equitable, more dignified, more welcoming and more humane world. We celebrate and remember that the lives of these women encourage a walk just begun, because it is necessary to move forward.

To move forward we remember that violence against women is also a political violence, because it affirms the social, cultural, and religious issue of domination of men over women. It is necessary to speak about this issue, to remember it, not to lose sight of it.  As Anglican women, we must to be united and continue to raise up our voices against violence, including institutionalized violence against women worldwide. In Brazil, advances have been made due to affirmative policies, but they are being gradually withdrawn by the government nowadays. In that sense, we occupy a place where violence against women reaches very high levels and women are always blamed for it.

Despite the pains, struggles, and challenges, we can not be discouraged or despair, but we move forward. Ater all, we must dream from what has already been lived and heard. We continue to dream, because of the possibilities of the future, asking God to stand up and defend his people, especially women. This is the contribution that we have today to leave for our generation and for future generations: the perspective that we already live good days, and that we have already experienced in our past the tangible presence of God. We have been delivered. Although it seems frightening to women today, we can wait for the promise that the dream will come true in the future. It is important to keep telling, remembering, believing, doing, and fighting… The dream is a journey of faith that goes by day to day, with the anchors of the past and the tools of the future. Because the dream comes from the perspective of the kingdom, it is happening, though not yet… The dream is like the Kingdom of God. That’s why we  women, are more together, and together we can do more!

By: Rachel Jimenez, Anglican Communion Office at the United Nations (ACOUN)

Today is International Day of the Girl (IDG), which means we must not only celebrate what goals we have achieved so far, but also advocate and take action for what changes we want to see in the future. While girls still struggle for gender parity, thousands of organizations are stepping up to make sure that girls have the platform to voice their concerns and goals for the future, and we want to step up to the plate.

In order to better understand what girls need and what changes they want to see, we simply need to ask. This is what led us to Miss Paloma Mafoud, a nine-year old fourth grade student from Avenues Elementary School. We asked her for a statement on the question, “Do you feel as if you are treated equally?”

Immediately, Miss Mafoud began touching on crucial feminist ideologies about what defines a woman. “I already feel equal; the boys don’t make me feel equal, but it’s not the boys that make me equal, it’s me.” In this statement we see that she recognizes herself as the author of her own self-worth. She does not look to boys to validate her existence, which is crucial as the world around us tries to shape girls and women into a one-size-fits-all model.

However, what happens when a girl’s self-worth is clouded by confidence mistaken as vanity, “nos” that are unheard, and self-defense that is taken as aggression? It is up to us to claim and advocate for gender parity, but how can we do so when our determination is misconstrued as aggression? And when our ideological fight for equality is taken as a fight of war with weapons?

Miss Mafoud touched on problems with aggression that we, as adults, may write-off in the early lives of children as ignorance but truly need to start correcting. “[Boys] try to annoy us, even when we ask them to stop. Then when we yell at them to stop they get mad and say we could’ve asked in a nicer way.” What Miss Mafoud did not realize is that she touched on two serious grievances girls and women face today. One being that our “nos” are primarily discounted. Secondly, that when we stand up for ourselves, we are labeled as aggressive.

Now, the question is, how can we make sure that boys are learning from an early age that no means no? And that asserting a right for freedom from unwanted actions is tenacious? From Miss Mafoud, I realized that beyond teachers: educators, babysitters, mentors, and friends can help teach children to treat everyone equally, understand the value of no, and refrain from the use of negative labels in an effort to advocate for the better future of the girl child.

Today, on IDG, and every day, I urge you to seek out the girl child and listen to her concerns, remind her that her self-worth is her own to create, her confidence beautiful, and her aggression a fire that should never be put out.

By: Lia Hansen, Lutheran Office for World Community FullSizeRender (1)

On July 14th, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom held a panel discussion during the High-Level Political Forum titled “From Shrinking Spaces to Feminist Movement Building: Key Priorities on SDG 5 and 16 for Sustaining Peace”.
Lopa Banerjee Bianco (UN Women), began with introductory remarks emphasizing the importance of meaningful participation by women’s organizations to the realization of the SDGs. She spoke about conservatism and fundamentalism undermining social justice and solidarity, and about the current pushback on key aspects of women’s rights. She emphasized the accountability gap that currently exists, and a need for public demanding of accountability of government and intergovernmental organizations. She hilighted the need to focus on solidarity building of civil society with new strategies.

The first panelist was Gabriella Irsten, from WILPF Sweden. She spoke of the shrinking NGO space financially and administratively, and the constant threat of violence to feminist activists. She discussed the importance of a power shift, of local NGOs getting more space for advocacy, and strengthening meaningful women’s participation in national discussions. The second panelist, Ismail Aziz from Women Deliver in Iraq also stressed the importance of international partnership with local NGOs.

Saba Ghori, from Women for Women International, declared that existing women’s networks are often exposed and displaced, and emphasized the importance of social networks and organizing women at grassroots level. She also underscored the need for localized partnerships, building the capacity of local organizations. There is a need for more flexible funding, to have more local NGOs apply to ensure effective implementation of existing commitments and ensuring the voices of rural and local women are heard.

The last speaker was Mabel Bianco, from the Fundación para Estudio e Investigation de la Mujer in Argentina.  She discussed the widespread impunity of violence against women in Latin America, and the movement “Ni Una Menos” that began denouncing femicides. She declared that many countries do not allow NGOs to participate, or participate in a meaningful way, in national review processes. She emphasized the lack of funding and need for capacity building for women’s grassroots organizations.

“I realized I don’t have what it takes to sit back and be average” that is a quote from the Kansas Assoc33612523701_a61a6e4ca3_o.jpgiation of Youth director. My name is Kirsten Lee. I am a delegate from the Episcopal Church and I am 17 years old. I am a senior in high school and this is my first CSW.

To achieve equality, it will take 117 years according to the Economic Core. By then I will probably be dead but I will have continued the legacy. These past two weeks we have looked at the legacies left by Ester, Lydia, Mary, Elizabeth, and Tabitha. And we even looked at our modern-day Lydia’s and we commemorated all the women who have worked.  Worked in the name of the Lord. And this morning we are bounding for the finish line and we are looking hopefully for the Agreed Conclusions to be passed at one o’clock this afternoon. But it doesn’t end when those agreements are passed, we are not at the finish line. We have just begun our leg of the race to carry the message out into the world.

People say that the youth are the future of the world but we are a part of this world. We are picking up from where others have left off and we are continuing this journey but we need to start passing the baton. We need to train more people. In order to pass it on we have to be an example for others to follow. It was interesting because I expected to come here and make a difference in the world, but I realized what I really needed to do is go home.  At the UN I was surrounded by feminists, so many feminists, and it was great. But civil society and the UN do not have much power. It is strong and mighty but it cannot enforce. The questions proposed at the briefings and events were how do we implement what we are doing here? It really starts from a Grassroot level. It starts at home. If you don’t like something, change it. If they can’t do it right, do it yourself. Most were saying that we really should consider running for political office because that is where you can have power to implement. To get there is hard. We have to work so much harder to be seen as equal to men. No matter what you are doing there is going to be opposition. But you have to keep on keeping on. You need to pave the way for other women to follow. We need to work with everyone to achieve equality.

Everyone asks me what I am doing after I graduate. Great question. I’m going to stop you right there. Because I don’t really know. But what I do know is that no matter where I go I am going to face challenges. I am looking at studying engineering at a university- I don’t know what kind but engineering- with a minor in Spanish. But right now, I am the only girl in my Manufacturing Consultants class. I wish to see more girls going into STEM fields. I joined a FIRST robotics team and we only have 5 girls in total on our team. We are lucky to have a 1:4 ratio at our meetings and when we do we celebrate it. On the other hand, I lead Girl Scout tours at the CAPS building to inspire younger girls to go into STEM. Young people, people in general have to see women taking on these roles to actually want to do it and create change. I have my own heroes that I look up to and the people that have inspired me to be who I am today.

In a perfect world, our governments would be based on human rights. And women’s rights are human rights. But as we all know we don’t live in a perfect world. As put by the Executive Director of UN Women, “Women need not to live up to society; society needs to live up to women.” But what can we do, go! We need to go back and advocate, educate, and inspire.

We need to be more like the kids. We need to have a child like faith and we need to dream dreams. Especially soaking up all the information and the atmosphere here. Kids are like little sponges and pick up on all the little things you do and then repeat that. Even the stuff you don’t want copied. Be the fearless girl looking down the bull. Have courage because the lord your god will be with you wherever you go. Continue the legacy. Advocate. Educate. Inspire. And girl power. And last but not least love.

All these words are not just words. I may not be very good at English but they are all verbs. Verbs are action words. We can’t sit around to make stuff happen. You have to get up and go. Amen.

My name is Charlotte Mildenberger. I am a vicar from Germany and currently interning at the LOWC.

It was my first CSW. CSW has been an amazing experience for me. It was so inspirational and moving to meet women from around the world and to listen to their stories and also to share experiences.

God wants justice in our world. Having the opportunity to be here at CSW and to advocate for what god wants is fantastic.

“The power of womens works”, women who worked and believed in their work: continuing the legacy”.

When I return to Germany I will get my first congregation and start working as a pastor.

Rev. Dionne was asking me: Charlotte, you are about to become a pastor, what does it mean for you continuing the legacy. Now after CSW?

So I was reflecting on Rev. Dionnes question: After talking to women from around the world and learning about biblical women and their work, I feel inspired to take concrete actions. So how could these concrete actions look like?

First of all it means to listen back home to the stories of all women and girls. Also to share with them my experiences I made here at CSW. To inform them about the situation of women and girls around the world. It would be great to build possible partnerships worldwide.

I want to encourage women and girls in my congregation to take action. To take responsibility in their congregation and to stand up for their rights in their community. Also I think it is important to talk with people about the SDGs because many people have never heard about them. And especially about SDG 5 – gender equality.

The biblical women have inspired me to follow my own path. To be sensitive for what god wants me to do in our world. How I can help others.

In Germany we currently have a lot of refugees. Many of them are women and children. An issue that is close to my heart is empowering refugee women and children through education and employment.

Congregations are important places also for education. When I go back to Germany I want to make sure that refugee women and children will have access to education in my congregation, for example language courses.

Now being here at the UN during CSW is of course a great opportunity to do advocacy – but it is also extremely important to continue the advocacy work back home at the grassroots level.

During our opening service we saw a play where the biblical women were gathering. They were sharing their stories. It was a very intense scene watching the women sharing their stories, supporting each other, building networks.

 

This is for me the final frame and also the first step to be able to take concrete actions and to continue the legacy – supporting each other and building networks – because only together we can make a difference!32928553873_964169ea1b_o.jpg

By Sophia Chung, International Leaders Program, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. DSC_0475.JPG

I truly appreciated the opportunity to attend CSW in New York not only because it was a chance to expand my horizon, but also because it helped me to see more possibilities and responsibilities now and in future. Everything I experienced and learned throughout those five days is more than I could list down or express through words. I am thankful for all the meaningful conversations I had with people I met or with my teammates during meal times because they helped me developed my thoughts with much more depth. Through all these conversations, God reminds me of His plan for me, His promises, and His grace which never leaves me. Through the preparation for CSW, I learned how shallow my knowledge was, and I realized I had stayed in a comfort zone for such a long time. I thought that I knew what was going on in my country, but I realized I was unaware of a lot the issues going on there. I realized that my country women’s status in the family is the second worst in Southeast Asia, it has the second highest “discriminatory family code” in the region (meaning women’s status are undervalued), women have less than 10% political representation, marital rape is not considered a crime in my country, and the government has no plans to change it. Not only that, according to the WEF Global Gender Gap study in 2014 shows that my country has the worst gender gap in Southeast Asia, and perhaps a lot of this stems from the country’s view of women. I realized that things like marital rape and other major issues may not be happening in my community, all the aforementioned issues are happening in my country. So, this left me with the question: what can I do?

This trip has helped me reflect and start thinking what my church back home can do so that we can reach both indigenous and Muslim women and young girls. These are sensitive topics in a Muslim majority country because of the many legal restrictions and limitations enforced by the government. So, providing government funded education, expecting new government policy, or giving out resources are not likely to happen. Also, it isn’t efficient or a long-term solution for the church back in Malaysia to simply supply economic resources in cases where the government care for women might be lacking. It’s easier to say that I’m going to be a part of changing the status quo than to actually take steps to make it happen, but attending the conference has motivated me to start planning so that this is not just a unilateral resource assistance, but a two-sided cooperation and management, that ensures a healthy relationship between church and community that can last to the next generations. This is a never-ending-learning process, and I wish that I could have stayed a few more days to learn and absorb. But I think it is more valuable to begin implementing the knowledge I do have in my church and community, and to begin writing down a real plan and share it with my pastors and church leaders.

Lastly, I am reminded of a quote from Thomas King, “Don’t say in the years to come that you would have lived your life differently if only you had heard this story. You’ve heard it now.” We are each confronted by pressing issues within our culture and society, instead of simply turning a blind eye, we must each identify our role in shaping the future and the change we hope to see.

A reflection shared by Jennifer Allen a delegate of the Episcopal Church

Purple Gumballs

When my daughter was baptized, she wore a dress made for my mother by my mother’s mother. As I held my tiny baby girl in that dress, with my mother at my side, I could feel my grandmother and great-grandmother standing beside me. Today, I felt their presence again. This time I also felt the invisible presence of my mother as well.

I spent some time today with a group of amazing women and men from around the globe. Women After Linking ArmsWe listened to the stories of our sisters. Stories of violence and fear, stories that we needed to honor before we could begin to witness to the nightmare of violence that afflicts women daily.  After hearing these stories, we went out and, in an unprecedented moment, stood with our arms linked to witness against gender based violence. Unprecedented because the United Nations is not generally willing to allow any type of demonstration across…

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