The search is on for women from across the Anglican Communion to attend the 64th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW), to be held in New York in March next year.
Each year the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, invites Primates to nominate women to represent the Anglican Communion at the event. The annual meeting of the CSW draws 9,000 women and men from all the regions of the world to the UN’s New York headquarters, with delegates representing and advocating for an estimated 3.7 billion women and girls worldwide.
The Secretary General said: “I am delighted to report that this year a delegation of eight women participated in two fruitful weeks of advocacy, fellowship and learning at the UNCSW. Our UN team are already hearing positive reports of the work they are undertaking in their Provinces as a result of their time in New York.”
Rachael Fraser, who works in administration and research for the Anglican Communion’s UN, mission and gender justice teams, was part of the Anglican Communion staff team at this year’s CSW. She said: “This is such an important event because as a faith-based organisation, churches are at the heart of communities and have such power to impact changes both within and outside their walls.”
After being invited to be part of the delegation in 2016, while studying International Relations at St Andrew’s University in Scotland, she said the relationships built there had sustained her over the past few years. “It was a real honour to be asked”, she said. “The main highlight was the fellowship between all the delegates with so many different women with diverse experiences … It was an intense two weeks and a steep learning curve, but there is nothing quite like it.”
One of this year’s delegates, Tomie Kaneko, from Japan, has been speaking with women’s groups in many churches about CSW and the sustainable development goals. Another representative from the Province of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia is working towards integrating indigenous women’s voices into the mainstream conversations on gender equality and women’s rights.
Jillian Abballe, Advocacy Officer at the Anglican Communion’s UN office, said: “I think that these outcomes really exemplify our approach to CSW this year: creating opportunities for fellowship, learning, and advocacy that sparks or re-ignites our delegates concern for these issues and that has a long-lasting ripple effect across the Communion through their bold witness and commitment.”
Next year the global community will mark the 25th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women and adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995).
The Anglican Communion is looking for women with interest in gender equality, the empowerment of women and girls and women’s leadership, along with a willingness to develop a personal advocacy plan. Each Primate has been invited to nominate two women for consideration – one considered a leader in their church, diocese or Province (for example, bishops or leaders in women’s ministries) and the other a young woman aged between 18 and 30.
First time delegate this year was Ley-Anne Forsyth (29), who works with vulnerable tenants for a social housing organisation and is an avid campaigner on social justice in the Diocese of Moray, Ross and Caithness within the Scottish Episcopal Church. She said: “It doesn't matter if you're talking about the rural highlands of Scotland or at the global level at the United Nations, it's all the same concept of advocating for gender equality and gender justice and sharing our stories in the places where we have influence.”
All delegate nominations must be sent to Primates of each Province, who will submit names to the Secretary General at the Anglican Communion Office.