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Anglican and Episcopal women at UN Commission on the Status of Women

Posted on: March 14, 2016 4:27 PM
Anglican and Episcopal delegations to the UN Commission on the Status of Women gather for worship
Photo Credit: Anglican Office at the United Nations

[ACNS] A major international gathering of women is taking place in New York as the UN Commission on the Status of Women hears from communities around the globe on issues of sustainable development and gender-based violence. Amongst those taking part in the event are 22 Anglican women from 18 provinces.

The CSW has been at the forefront of developing international conventions on a range of issues, including the political rights of women, women’s rights in marriage – such as consent, minimum age and registration – and equal pay, since its inception in 1947.

This latest meeting follows a milestone year in international development as it comes in the wake of the adoption of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Participants at this week’s meeting will discuss how the SDGs can be implemented.

The SDGs are “a universal roadmap for people and planet, addressing the key challenges of the 21st century, such as poverty, inequality and climate change,” a UN spokesperson said. “Gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls is a goal in itself, and recognized as a central means to achieving the SDGs. Success depends on rigorous implementation. . .

“This gathering of so many of the key partners in the implementation of [the SDGs] makes this a crucial opportunity to combine our strengths and align decisively around the central issues for action,” UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said.

In a statement, the UN said that “Research underlines the benefit of women’s empowerment and gender equality for societies everywhere: for instance, if women played an identical role to men in labour markets, as much as USD 28 trillion could be added to global annual GDP by 2025.

“When women are at the peace tables, their participation increases the probability of a peace agreement lasting at least two years by 20 per cent, and 35 per cent over 15 years.

“And a child born to a mother who can read is 50 per cent more likely to survive.

“Yet, global reviews undertaken in 2015, during the 20 years’ commemoration of the historic Beijing Conference, revealed while there has been progress on women’s rights and gender equality, it has not been enough. Today, only one in five parliamentarians is a woman and women continue to earn less, have fewer assets and bear the burden of unpaid work and care.

“Violence against women continues to affect one in three women, making it one of the most widespread human rights violations. The Commission will evaluate progress in the implementation of its agreed conclusions of 2013, on ending violence against women and girls, a pandemic that also comes with enormous economic costs to society.”

In addition to the Anglican Communion’s delegation to CSW, there are separate delegations from the (American) Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada and the Episcopal Diocese of New York as well as groups such as Anglican Women’s Empowerment, Episcopal Church Women, and the International Anglican Women’s Network. They are amongst around 8,100 women from 1,000 NGOs who are present in New York for the meeting.


The CSW involves formal government level discussions in the Assembly rooms of the UN; in addition to more than 200 side events hosted on the UN premises by Member States and UN entities; and many more in the surrounding area.

These include a presentation by the Episcopal Diocese of New York Task Force against Human Trafficking today (Monday) and a “meet and greet” with the secretary general of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, tomorrow; ahead of a keynote speech on wednesday entitled “Leave no one behind”, looking at “Anglicans, Women’s Empowerment, and the SDGs”.

Archbishop Idowu-Fearon and the delegations will attend receptions hosted by the Bishop of New York, the Rt Revd Andrew Dietsche, and the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Most Revd Michael Curry.

On Thursday, Presiding Bishop Curry will preach at a Eucharist celebrated by Archbishop Idowu-Fearon.

On Sunday, the Revd Terrie Robinson, the Anglican Communion’s Director for Women in Church and Society, will preach at a special choral evensong honouring the Anglican Communion and Episcopal Church delegates at the Church of the Epiphany in a service organised by the Global Women’s Fund of the Episcopal Diocese of New York.

In addition to worship and discussions, the delegations will be busy addressing the issues raised by the CSW, including a High Level UN Event organised by the Canadian government on gender equality and the end of gender violence. This will involve of seven government ministers from various nations and an intervention by the UN secretary general’s special rapporteur on Violence against Women.

The delegations will also hear from the Iranian author Sanam Naraghi-Anderlini, an expert campaigner on the issue of women and conflict, who will speak on “Unarmed Truth: promoting rights, peace & pluralism.”

And there will be a session called “Protect Life and the Environment; making a bridge between women from Fukushima, at which the delegations will hear about Japan under the threat of radiation and Bangladeshi indigenous women in disaster-prone area.

The Anglican Communion Delegates will leave New York on 24 March. Before then, they will prepare a message that will be delivered to the members of the Anglican Consultative Council when they gather in Lusaka next month for its 16th meeting.