A News Brief of the 52nd UN Commission on the Status of Women

Very warm Christian greetings!

I am writing to thank you for your prayerful support and advice. Some of you sent me the names of the women to attend the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UN CSW). You who did will see that these women’s performance was a record achievement and I thank you for accepting to walk with me.

I am convinced that the face of the Communion is visible at the UN. This in many ways was achieved before I came into office. Thanks to my predecessors.

I therefore came to add and deepen what my sister Taimalelagi framed around the CSW by training a small group of women in skills and content for engagement in advocacy on issues that the UN considers pertinent. This would both increase delivery capacity and strengthen our participation as a Communion at the UN.

un_52ndaThe United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is one of the key events that have been a mobilizing point for Anglican women over the past four years. That mobilization continues to be facilitated by the Anglican Empowerment (AWE) group. For 2008 however, a group of 25 women were selected specifically to be trained in Economic literacy and advocacy in order to deepen the delivery capacity. The composition of this wonderful and inspired group reflected both the geographical breadth and cultural diversity of the Anglican Communion. Among the women, representing five continents, there were priests and lay leaders, a government official and grass root activists, university professors and teachers.

They women came with reports reflecting what their governments and their Provinces has done with regards to Gender equality and the empowerment of women. Advocacy issues were identified form these reports. These issues were later presented to the Ambassadors during Mission visits as well as at some CSW side events. There were also technical papers presented to enable the women to broaden their scope of analysis.

They were further trained in Economic literacy held in partnership with UNIFEM. The women returned to their Provinces with a follow up plan.

The women were also trained on effective and targeted advocacy. This begins at the country level by targeting all government ministries starting with the mainland ministry for a given UN thematic focus

They walked through steps for strategic and effective advocacy at the UN where the first basic step begins with understanding what the UN is; its mandate, programs, procedures and governance structures 
un_52ndbThe next is to do a “double purposed advocacy”; as a means to create awareness as well as deepening the level of knowledge in the issues and themes for any given negotiation. It is important to narrow down the issue, package it in simple and clear language and to propose an alternative for what ever you are advocating against. Target the Chair and members of Commission

The women engaged the Ambassadors of Kenya, Pakistan, Malawi, Solomon Islands, United Kingdom, Namibia, Mauritius and Burundi Missions.

The Missions responded by recognizing the role of the church. And goes further to say the advantage with the church is that you can talk to all the governments in all the countries where the Anglican Communion is present.

 

The church has technical capacity in some of the areas and issues and is often better placed to provide this than government.[1]

In addition, there are issues that need to be raised at all platforms including the church pulpits such as climate change. The church has a history of good practice in Education, Health and this role needs to continue. The church has a robust outreach capacity for the dissemination of information and messages. Lastly the element of additionality is still vital and the churches should not retreat from adding to what governments are doing.

We run the danger of promoting the “privatization of morality” so the church must remain engaged at all levels.[2]

They women wrote to the UN Secretary General

Prior to the conference, the Anglican Consultative Council submitted a written statement to the UN Secretary General. The UN Secretary General acknowledged receipt of the statement and subsequently circulated it to al the member states.

“The Secretary-General has received the following statement, which is being circulated in accordance with paragraphs 36 and 37 of Economic and Social Council resolution 1996/31 of 25 July 1996.”

The statement opens with a description of the Communion in population and faith perspective. It noted how women and girls continue to suffer the harsh consequences of conflict, poverty, violence, discrimination and the unexpected traumas of poorly anticipated natural disasters.

In order to ensure that no one is left out, the women committed themselves to be channels that will enable all to have a voice and a place. “The pursuit of this ideal serves as a sign and indicator of what humanity will be like when God’s “will is done on earth.”[3] It also states the Anglican mission.[4]

They have concerns around the way their theology is not lived out in the ways in which national budgets are examined and policies developed.[5]

They have registered achievements such as resolution ACC_1331[6] to adopt and affirm the work of the Anglican Women’s Network; acknowledging the MDG Goal of equal representation (50%) of women in decision-making at all levels and establishing a women’s desk. Gender Desks have been set up in Australia, Canada, the Sudan, Ireland, North India, Pakistan and the United States.

The International Anglican women’s network (IAWN) has worked on UN resolution 1325[7], and held a conference was held to address gender-based violence.
They recognized men’s contribution to Gender equality in Canada and Australia where there is an international program of men dedicated to changing other men’s violent attitudes and behavior patterns towards women and girls has been active. Other initiatives focus on domestic violence; and ways to step up awareness on maternal, child mortality as well as HIV/AIDS.
They have a deficit about current economic theories that have failed to incorporate and recognize domestic work. In order to articulate this concern, the women need to understand basic economic development theories, and policies practices. This capacity is what the economic literacy is intended to build. 
They have commitments to fighting cultural practices that make girls vulnerable to abuse and sexual exploitation. They called for new legislation within and gender budgeting to be adopted by the Church and States.
For the Anglican women the CSW theme of Financing for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women is not just about money to finance gender and women’s empowerment but the need for political will and change of mind-set of those allocating resources and who do not seem to know the benefit of financing gender!

The group of 25 women brought together insight and experiences from all over the Anglican Communion. They shared their knowledge, experience and inspiration with each other. They learned from each other and from the organizers of the program. And they received hands-on training when they took the new advocacy skills and knowledge to the UN and to the UN missions of several countries. Finally, they went home empowered and inspired, prepared to empower others and to effect necessary changes in their communities and countries. They continue to communicate through an email list and a blog for the CSW, http://auncsw.typepad.com/.  The Office of the Anglican Observer at the UN will continue to facilitate their work in the field and further their learning in the area of economic literacy.

“Let us not become weary in doing good,

“…for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”  Galatians 6:9

I would like to express deep gratitude to UNIFEM for the training in Economic Literacy and for facilitating two sessions.

Special gratitude goes to the parish Trinity Church, Wall Street that generously supported this program.

We ask for your continuing prayers and support.

Notes:

1. Ambassadoor Kaire Mbwende: Namibian Mission; New York March 2008.

2. -do-

3. Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams, TEAM Report; Boksburg-Johannesburg, March 2007.

4. to: (i) proclaim the Good News of God’s realm; (ii) teach baptize and nurture new believers; (iii) respond to peoples’ needs through loving service; (iv) break down unjust structures to maintain peace and justice; and (v) strive to safeguard the integrity of God’s creation and to sustain and renew the earth.”

5. “There is a profound imbalance of funding for programs which benefit women and shape their lives. Yet we know from experiences and statistics that women and girls are the poorest, most oppressed and violated: with limited access to education and natural resources like water, energy, land and yet are victims of sex trade and “slave labor” markets.”  

6. The Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) Resolution ACC-13-31.

7. It addresses women in situation of conflict, violence and war; is a commitment to address the situation and involve women in peace building and conflict resolution.