By Terrie Robinson, Anglican Communion Office
Without gender equality none of the Millennium Development Goals or proposed sustainable development goals will be accomplished. This was the conclusion of the Anglican Communion delegation of women who attended the recent 58th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW58) in New York.
Their statement released today acknowledges hard-won gains for women and girls in recent years but points out that women make up two-thirds of the 1.4 billion people currently living in extreme poverty, while one in three women experiences violence in her lifetime.
The group stated: “Gender equality and women’s rights are the essential precursors to meeting global challenges, which have disproportionate and burdensome impacts on women and girls.”
The delegation, made up of 20 representatives 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.
The statement was clear: “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 statement also carried a clear message about the role and potential of Anglican churches in partnering with UN and Member State agencies and making their own contributions to sustainable development, “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”.
For the full text of the statement, below and also http://iawn.anglicancommunion.org/resources/docs/CSW58_statement_by_anglican_communion_delegation_march_2014.pdf
The priority theme for the 2014 session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women was “Challenges and Achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for Women and Girls”.
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