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Caring for Creation Third Report

Posted on: August 23, 2002 1:59 PM
Related Categories: Southern Africa

Wednesday 21 August 2002

Today's first speaker was Rosina Wiltshire of the UN Development Programme. Rosina's presentation was entitled 'Gender and Human Development' and she spoke of the series of UN conferences and summits with which she had been engaged as an advocate of women's rights. Rosina explained to the delegates that she is both an Anglican and 'dedicated to the protection of the environment and to health and human well-being'.

In her talk she spoke movingly of the role of women. She pointed out that a staggering 80% of all food production in Africa is undertaken by women. Yet so often attempts to offer development help assume that men will do the work. For example, Rosina described seeing water pumps that had been designed and provided by development engineers who had assumed that the water would be pumped by men. As a result, women, who are the collectors of water, were unable to use them. Rosina called for human and environmental perspectives to be incorporated into what have been overtly technical and scientific plans and actions trying to deal with the world's problems. She challenged the Anglican Communion to bring a new understanding to people's vision of wealth: what role is there for sharing love, joy, compassion, fulfilling need rather than greed? How can the wealthy person or family be redefined according to these values? How can the idea of manhood be shifted from making money, gaining power, expressing sexuality and fathering children? "I have seen a lot of progress, but I have not seen it happen fast enough. Still millions of children are dying; there is still a deepening gap between rich and poor. Let us come back to ethics and spirituality."

Delegates offered examples of women's influence and actions in a number of Provinces. One was where the Anglican Church despite being small in number is working in Uganda, along with the Mothers' Union, concentrating on teaching women skills, and this is attracting the interest of women from the much larger Muslim community.

The second part of the morning on 'Our Biodiversity, Our Concern, Our Life', began with a presentation from Dr Chantal Andrianarivo, Head of Research and Biodiversity, National Association of Protected Area Management, Madagascar. Chantal described the work that has been going on since 1991 to protect the environment of her country. Later, when extending the subject to ecological justice, Bishop Geoff Davies of South Africa explained how well his country knows that when people exercise 'dominion' for their own benefit without caring for others, the consequences are disastrous and justice is forsaken. "Our mandate for 'dominion' is not just to care for fellow human beings but for all creation." The Bishop then proposed that there should be a resolution sent to the UN that calls on the international community to provide for protection of threatened habitats and species. He quoted Pythagoras, writing 2,600 years ago, to support his views: "For as long as Man continues to be the ruthless destroyer of lower living beings, he will never know health or peace. For as long as men massacre animals they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seeds of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love."

During the afternoon delegates were taken to Maretlane Nature Reserve which has recently become the centre for providing young people, both black and white, from rural and urban communities with the experience of the South African environment, reaching back for millennia. For the Magaliesburg Mountains, where the Nature Reserve is, are estimated to be 2 billion years old, older than the Alps or the Himalayas.

Delegates returned for a service which reflected the day's deliberations and experiences before spending further time refining the statement that will go to the UN Summit.

David Shreeve
Claire Foster

Good Shepherd Retreat Centre