The priority theme for the 58th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women was “Challenges and Achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for Women and Girls”.
Anglican women made up a delegation of 20 representatives from around the Anglican Communion who attended the session. They highlighted the underlying importance of gender equality to the achievement of development goals.
In a statement the group said, “Gender equality and women’s rights are the essential precursors to meeting global challenges, which have disproportionate and burdensome impacts on women and girls.
“Achieving gender equality requires equal access by women and girls to education, employment and income generating activities, health care, land and resources, as well as equal contribution to decision-making and peace-building processes and post-disaster responses.”
The Anglican delegation, representing provinces from around the Anglican Communion, welcomed the CSW58 recommendation to Member States that gender equality and women’s empowerment should be reflected as a stand-alone goal in the post-2015 international development framework, and be integrated through targets and indicators into all goals.
Sandra Andrade, a member of the Anglican Alliance board, said, “Our participation in this event gave us an opportunity to take various layers of action. First, the opportunity to have access to events organised and sponsored by the United Nations with authorities world wide, which gave us the chance to hear from official delegates about what is happening in their home countries and what kind of proposals they have for the future.
“Second, to have the opportunity to share life experiences with other women from different countries, churches and religions, whilst sharing a common goal. We were able to celebrate with them and renew our faith and commitment to move forward together in our daily struggles.
“Third, to be together with other Anglican women and strengthen our bonds of family, unity, and power.
“I believe participating in CSW58 did not end when the activities came to a close in New York. This is an ongoing event – we are all bonded – we will continue to be in touch, share experiences and pose challenges to our local communities.”
(In Portuguese) Sandra Andrade disse, “A participação nesse evento se dá em diferentes direções. Primeiramente a oportunidade de ter acesso a eventos promovidos pela ONU com autoridades de diferentes partes do mundo. Ouvir das delegações o que tem acontecido em seus países e quais as suas propostas para o futuro de sua nação é algo muito singular.
“Em segundo lugar, ter a oportunidade de conviver com mulheres de diferentes denominações de diferentes partes do mundo, com um objetivo comum, celebrar juntas, é algo edificante e que renova a nossa fé, e nos fortalece para continuar a nossa tarefa.
“Em terceiro lugar, estar junto as companheiras anglicanas de diferentes partes do mundo, conhecer de perto a realidade de cada uma delas, trás o sentimento de unidade, força e partilha.
“Creio que a participação na CSW58 não terminou com o encerramento das atividades em New York. Este é um evento em que seus participantes permanecem em contato com todas as representantes, com discussões, provocações, desafios e trocas de experiências.”
The Revd Terrie Robinson, Women’s Desk Officer at the Anglican Communion Office, accompanied the Anglican delegation.
She said, “The Anglican women brought to New York a broad and deep experience from their home Provinces.
“It was clear from the stories they shared that in spite of some extraordinary efforts and hard work, the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals is still lagging behind for women and girls.
“But believing that women and men can work together to achieve equality already puts us on the journey towards making it happen.”
The delegation’s statement ended with the words, “We return to our communities with new vision and renewed passion. When God is with us, there is nothing we can’t do to heal, to save, to advocate, to transform.”
In the picture: Anglican women attend the 58th session of UNCSW in New York.
Women’s Empowerment: A Gospel issue
The priority theme for the 2014 session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UN CSW58) was “Challenges and Achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for Women and Girls”.
We are at a historic point in global development and understanding as we review the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), move toward the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action by the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995 (Beijing+20), and negotiate the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2015-2030. Despite hard-won gains, women currently account for about two-thirds of the 1.4 billion people who live in extreme poverty. One in three women experience violence in their lifetime. Gender equality and women’s rights are the essential precursors to meeting global challenges, which have disproportionate and burdensome impacts on women and girls. These include:
- poverty and hunger
- access to healthcare, especially neonatal and post natal care and non-communicable diseases
- climate change and environmental degradation
- the prevalence of sexual and gender based violence
- the need for universal birth registration.
Achieving gender equality requires equal access by women and girls to education, employment and income generating activities, health care, land and resources, as well as equal contribution to decision-making and peace-building processes and post-disaster responses. Long hours were spent negotiating the language of the agreement and focusing on the importance of a stand-alone goal for women and girls’ equality. Without equality none of the MDGs or proposed SDGs will be accomplished.
The Anglican Communion delegation therefore is truly pleased that the Agreement reached by the UN Commission on the Status of Women confirmed the need for a stand-alone goal on gender equality and women’s empowerment in the set of international targets. The Agreement also stated that gender equality must underpin all other goals and includes strong language against violence against women and girls. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the executive director of UN Women, said the Commission’s agreement to call for a stand-alone goal on gender equality represented “a milestone toward a transformative global development agenda that puts the empowerment of women and girls at its centre”.
Cross-sector partnerships can speed up the pace of change. Faith-based organisations are increasingly perceived as key partners. The churches of the Anglican Communion have a vital part to play in exemplifying the transformation we long to see by transfiguring our communities and ending suffering. The gospel passage chosen by Anglicans leading morning worship in the UN Church Centre was from Luke 1 – Mary’s visit to Elizabeth and her great song of praise, empowerment and hope. Just as that was a time of enlightenment, so we trust that this Commission will lead to greater global understanding of women’s inequality and preparedness to speak out and for gender equity.
We thank the leadership of the Anglican Communion for the opportunity to join with 6000 women from around the globe and spend two weeks focused on the Status of Women. We are particularly grateful for the opportunity to meet and share with our Anglican sisters, as well as sisters from other Christian traditions, and other faiths. Uniting with women from very diverse contexts was an extraordinary learning experience that we will each take back to our communities.
We are sincerely grateful to Rachel Chardon for the support and assistance provided by the Anglican Communion Office at the UN; Beth Adamson whose generous facilitation ensured that we engaged fully with CSW and its opportunities for advocacy and learning; the staff of the Episcopal Church Center; the women of The Episcopal Church for their generous hospitality and Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori for the her warm welcome.
We return to our communities with new vision and renewed passion. When God is with us, “there is nothing we can’t do to heal, to save, to advocate, to transform.”(Deborah Rosenbloom, Jewish Women International).
Sarah Jane Bachelard – Anglican Church of Australia
Sandra Andrade – Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil
Florence Sarkar – Church of Bangladesh
Caitlin Reilley Beck – Anglican Church of Canada
Faith Gandiya – Church of the Province of Central Africa
Mugisa Isingoma – Province de L’Eglise Anglicane du Congo
Rachel Aston – Church of England
Terese Wong – Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui
Marie Pierrette Bezara – The Church of the Province of the Indian Ocean
Keiko Murai, Akane Shinoda – Nippon Sei Ko Kai (Japan)
Esther Lee – Anglican Church of Korea
Kaufo’ou Leveni, Ana Maria Lamositele – Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand & Polynesia
Ayra Indiryas – Church of Pakistan
Immaculée Nyiransengimana – Province of the Anglican Church of Rwanda
Elaine Cameron – Scottish Episcopal Church
Granny Seape, Louisa Mojela – Anglican Church of Southern Africa
Lucille Pilling – The Episcopal Church