With the 2015 United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) meeting on the horizon, The Episcopal Church submitted its first ever official written statement to the 59th Session last October detailing persistent challenges to women’s empowerment and gender equality and offering action steps.
This year, UNCSW will undertake a review of progress made in the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, 20 years after its adoption at the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995. The document outlined 12 Critical Areas of Concern in which progress needs to be made to empower women and girls.
The Episcopal Church’s statement identified four Critical Areas of Concern as “persistent gaps [that] continue to impede gender equality and empowerment of women and girls”, twenty years after Beijing: Violence against women; Education and training of women; Women and health; Women in power and decision-making positions.
“As people of faith, Episcopalians especially are called to lift up women and girls who frequently are marginalized or forgotten: women with disabilities, women of color, women from ethnic minorities, women refugees and immigrants, girls displaced by war or sent abroad by themselves, lesbians and transgender individuals, indigenous women, older women, enslaved and trafficked women, women who are heads of single-family households, and women in developing countries,” the document states.
The Statement in full is located here
In addition, The Episcopal Church joined other members of Ecumenical Women in submitting a joint written statement, located here
Ecumenical Women is a coalition of Christian denominations and organizations, including the Anglican Consultative Council, Association of Presbyterian Women of Aoteaora (New Zealand), Church Women United, Lutheran World Federation, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), The Salvation Army, Society of Catholic Medical Missionaries, United Church of Christ, United Methodist Church – Women’s Division of the General Board of Global Ministries, Women’s Missionary Society of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, World Federation of Methodist and Uniting Church Women and the World Young Women's Christian Association, and associates including Anglican Women’s Empowerment, the National Council of Churches of Christ (USA) and Presbyterian Women in the Presbyterian Church (USA).
The advocacy priorities highlighted in the Ecumenical Women statement are: Violence and discrimination against women; Poverty, inequalities and climate change; Education and training of women and girls; and Women and health – full access to reproductive health and informed decision-making.
Together, The Episcopal Church’s written statement, along with Ecumenical Women’s joint written statement – of which The Episcopal Church is a signatory – will be the foundations by which The Episcopal Church’s first official delegation will represent the Church at this year’s UNCSW. Delegates will be encouraged to highlight the statements’ priorities, adding their own research, stories and information from their local perspectives, in order to illustrate the themes and communicate about them at the United Nations, and in their local communities once they return home.
For more information contact Lynnaia Main, Officer for Global Relations for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society.
The Episcopal Church: www.episcopalchurch.org