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Anglican Communion women welcome Primates' commitment to tackle violence against women and girls.

Posted on: March 28, 2011 12:09 PM
Related Categories: gender violence, iawn, Primates Meeting

The commitment by Primates at the January meeting in Dublin to work to eliminate violence against women and girls has been warmly welcomed by the Communion’s International Anglican Women’s Network (IAWN).

IAWN members were part of a delegation of 80 Anglican/Episcopal women and girls who were in New York for the Fifty-fifth Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW55) at the beginning of March.

IAWN steering group member the Revd Canon Alice Medcof of the Anglican Church of Canada said the decision of the Primates’ Meeting to put in writing a range of commitments to address violence against women and girls would serve as a new impetus for the churches of the Communion to act for change. She added, however, that in discussion with IAWN women around the Communion it was clear that different cultural contexts amongst the Provinces needed different responses. 

“There is no uniform way forward to continue to break the silence about violence against women and girls,” said Canon Medcof. “But spurred on by the commitment of the Primates, each of the IAWN women gathered in New York pledged to devise an educational programme  that is suitable to her home country based on the ‘16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence’ initiative.1

Thousands of women and men from around the world participated in the Fifty-fifth Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW55), from 28 February to 4 March in New York.

Among the 80 Anglican/Episcopal women and girls who took part, 20 from 12 Provinces of the Anglican Communion were fully accredited delegates. They began each day in the Chapel of the UN Church Center for an ecumenical worship service, and then joined various caucuses in monitoring the work of the Commission, analysing the wording, and framing alternative wording in order that the final document reflect our faith-based commitment to equality of women and men and be of most benefit to the well-being of women. The ideas for the new text were explained to the Ambassadors and staff of Permanent Missions to the UN and their support was requested.

Among a plethora of parallel events concerned with the challenges faced by women and girls around the world, two were sponsored under the auspices of the Anglican Consultative Council. During the first event, Marion Little from Canada spoke compellingly about the value of using non-violent communication techniques. The second event pertained to the CSW55 Review Theme which was to evaluate progress in the implementation of the agreed conclusions from its fifty-first session on ‘The elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against the girl child’. 

The Girls’ Caucus at CSW55 noted that around the world, girls face violence that is supported by their communities. Female genital mutilation, honour killings, and physical punishments are ingrained in certain cultures.  It is necessary to work with community leaders to find alternatives to these traditions.  In summary the Girls’ Caucus clearly made the request that the UN “Listen to girls, respect girls, educate girls and empower girls”.  The full statement is available at:

The priority theme of CSW55, ‘Access and participation of women and girls to education, training, science and technology, including for the promotion of women’s equal access to full employment and decent work’, was discussed for the duration of the meeting from 22 February to 4 March 2011. Unanimous consent was given by the Commission to the Agreed Conclusions. See; click on language desired.
See for English.

Canon Medcof added, “All present at CSW55 went home with a heightened awareness of the need for co-operation amongst all international actors—church, United Nations, Governments and civil society—if a world where everyone can live in safety is to become a reality.”


Notes to Editors

  1. The ‘16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence’ begin on 25 November which is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and ends on International Human Rights Day, 10 December. Since the campaign began in 1991, women and men have used the 16 Days to raise awareness of violence against women and girls, strengthen local work around the issue, and lobby governments to implement the promises they have made to eliminate violence.
  2. IAWN, the International Anglican Women's Network, was formed in November 1996 to be the organization through which the voices of Anglican women would be reported to the Anglican Consultative Council. The IAWN Steering Group for 2009 - 2012 was elected in March 2009. The International Anglican Women's Network is one of the networks of the world wide Anglican Communion. For more information visit: