The Anglican Communion Office at the United Nations is taking a delegation of seven women to New York next month for the 63rd annual meeting of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW63). Eight women were chosen, but one member of the delegation was denied a visa by the US authorities. This year, the 45 UN Member States who are members of the Commission will discuss “Social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls” – this includes issues such as access to health and education systems. As in recent years, the US-based Episcopal Church will also have an official delegation at the event. The Anglican mission agencies Mothers’ Union and USPG will also be present.
Anatolie Dusabe from the Anglican Church of Burundi, is Diocesan President of the Mothers’ Union in Rumonge. Her entry visa to the US was refused. Dusabe, had been looking forward to networking “with colleagues with experience in advocating for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls”. Before her visa was application was rejected, she said. “It will be a time for learning and to see how I can implement the knowledge back in my country and in my diocese.”
She added: “violence leads young ladies to abandon school, to conceive undesirable pregnancies, to become HIV / Aids positive, despair themselves and suffer from a lot of socio-economic miseries.”
She said that going to the CSW would have been “an opportunity to share a plan to empower women, especially young ladies, to be able to minimise victims of violence and to overcome such pain.”
The official Anglican Communion delegation includes Jennifer Allen, who attended previous CSW meetings as part of the official delegation from the US-based Episcopal Church. “I am particularly excited about the opportunity to network with women from all over the world”, she said. “I am excited to learn about the barriers other women face and what initiatives are being implemented around the world to address those barriers.
“I hope to bring some level of expertise from prior experience with CSW, having served as a representative for the Episcopal Church in 2016 and 2017. I also have knowledge and perspective about women’s access to support services, particularly women’s health care, as a result of working as a nurse in women’s healthcare and in relationships built with women in Kenya.”
Scottish Episcopal Church member Ley-Anne Forsyth, a housing professional, is another Anglican Communion delegation member. “I’m really looking forward to having an opportunity to hopefully engage with the UK government mission and pick up on the issues raised by Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, on his recent visit to the UK about our failing social protection systems, particularly around welfare support failings for women.
“I am keen to learn more and feed in to discussions around housing-centric policies for support and care for women and families. As a Youth Officer in the Scottish Episcopal Church I am looking forward to learning from groups and my fellow delegates ways in which I can help empower our young women to achieve everything they set their minds to.”
Anglican Communion delegation member Tomie Kaneko from the Nippon Sei Ko Kai (NSKK) – the Anglican Communion in Japan – said: “I am excited to meeting new Anglican friends from all over the world! Attending is a great opportunity, I want to learn and bring back to Japan the trend of the gender equality and the empowerment of women.
“NSKK believe the nuclear power is not a right answer for the sustainable infrastructure.” She referenced the eight-year wait for a solution to the Fukushima power plant disaster, when a tsunami caused a meltdown in a nuclear power plant. “From our experience, I want to say: ‘no more nuclear power’”.
Another Anglican Communion delegation member, Anika Kingmele from the Anglican Church of Melanesia, said that she is “keen to learn from other countries progress in social protection programmes in breaking the glass ceiling and the role of faith-based organisations in empowering women and girls.
“I hope to contribute critical aspects of the Melanesian culture, political, social and economic factors that contribute both positively and negatively on the interventions that aim at attaining gender equality.”
The delegation includes a priest from the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Nontlantla Mashiyane. “I am looking forward to learning about what other governments around the world are doing to achieve development that is inclusive of women and girls, especially those who are most vulnerable, especially in rural areas”, she said. “I look forward to being a part of women who are the agents of change globally.
“Women are the face of poverty in Africa. They have to contend with the challenges brought about by social and economic inequalities of our society on a daily basis. Outreach programmes targeting rural women should be prioritised. Their condition could be ameliorated by the provision of assistance mainly in the areas of education and health care.
“In this way, the theme of sustainable infrastructure and social protection systems is critical to the empowerment of women.”
Economist and Policy Analyst Dr Grace Ofori-Abebrese, from the Church of the Province of West Africa, is another member of the Anglican Communion delegation. “I am actually thrilled for being part of the delegation for CSW63”, she said. “This is my first time of joining members of the Anglican Communion around the world in such an important programme.
“I trust I am going to learn many things to equip me help the community of West Africa.”
She added: “I hope to contribute immensely to important issues concerning public financing of some of these social intervention programmes. I am expecting to throw light on areas that seem challenging in their implementation.”
The final member of the Anglican Communion delegation is Ruihana Paenga, a member of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. She says that she will be sharing the Mana Wahine – a Maori phrase for a spirit of womanhood – with the other members of the Anglican delegation. “I come to share with my Anglican sisters, Mana Wahine, a model of female leadership ingrained from the many women who have shaped and influenced my life”, she said, adding: “I hope to bring to CSW an insight to Pacific Priorities on Climate Change and Youth Empowerment which are underpinned by indigenous values & development frameworks.”