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International Women’s Day – making space for female voices

International Women’s Day – making space for female voices

Rachael Fraser

07 March 2019 4:08PM

The London-based Administration and Research Assistant for the Anglican Communion Office at the United Nations, Rachael Fraser, reflects on International Women’s Day and the forthcoming UN Commission on the Status of Women meeting – CSW63.


“The agenda of creating a planet 50-50, an equal world for men and women . . . cannot come true if religion, religious leaders and faith actors remain outside the conversation.”
UN Women Deputy Executive Director Lakshmi Puri

Tomorrow (Friday 8 March) is International Women’s Day. This year, the annual celebration of the work, life and achievements of women and girls globally will centre on the theme of “Better the Balance, Better the World”.

This year’s observance is particularly poignant for the Anglican Communion as it coincides with the beginning of the 63rd Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). As you read this, seven women from across the Communion are finalising preparations and beginning their journey to New York.

The voices and priorities of women of faith have been shared at the UN for many years. Our cry for gender justice is rooted in faith and the belief that a world that constrains the full flourishing and potential of all human beings does not meet the vision of our Creator.

I attended CSW as an Anglican Communion delegate in 2016 and 2017. It was a transformational and faith-affirming experience. CSW has now come full-circle for me as I work at the Anglican Communion Office and have been involved in organising and supporting the 2019 delegation to CSW.

I’m excited to greet our delegation in New York and work alongside Jillian Abballe, UN Advocacy Officer, and Terrie Robinson, Director for Women in Church and Society, to support our delegation through all aspects of CSW.

While the two weeks in New York will be a significant time for our delegation, the real work begins when they return to their home provinces. Our hope is that these women will be transformed by their experience.

The work of gender justice advocates is hard. Change takes time.

Barriers to justice come in many forms. The relationships delegates form with each other will sustain them through the challenging and the joyful times. I truly believe they will do amazing things – so watch this space!

I Corinthians 12 tells us: “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. . . All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives to them each one, just as he determines.”

One of the great joys of the diversity of our CSW delegation is the wealth of spiritual gifts that each delegate has. Each of them brings their own priorities, experience and expertise. They carry with them the voices and concerns of women and girls from across the world. Despite these differences, the goal of equal and just relationships between men and women is the same.

This International Women’s Day, take some time to reflect on the spiritual gifts of the women and girls around you; how can you lift up and celebrate these gifts? How can you make space for their voices to be heard?

And for those of you wondering, International Men’s Day is 19 November!