The Ecumenical Women’s Statement and What It Means for Me.

The Ecumenical Women (EW) is a coalition of Christian Non Government Organizations (NGOs) made up of several denominations and groups (including the Anglican Consultative Council, Association of Presbyterian Women on Aoteaora New Zealand, Church Women United, Presbyterian Church (USA), Society of Catholic Medical Missionaries, United Methodist Church/General Board of Global Ministries, World Federation of Methodist and Uniting Church Women, World Student Christian Federation, United Church of Christ/Board for World Ministries, and the World Young Women’s Christian Association).

Each year the EW submits a statement to the CSW with their recommendations on the theme.  Our job as delegates is to learn more about and advocate for one of the points outlined in the EW’s statement.  I have not yet chosen which point I will be focusing on.  I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions on the statement and it’s points in the comments section!

There are three statements from the EW this year – I will put them up separately, they are a bit much to take in all at once….

The first statement (and its sub-points) is as follows:

Cultural, structural and economic violence are underlying factors that must be addressed.

– EW recognizes that underlying all forms of violence are cultural, structural and economic root causes.  Structural imbalances demean and diminish the full dignity of women and girls and increase gender discrimination and the risk of violence directed against them.

– Cultural values and practices determine the roles of women and men in society and the degrees of acceptance of discrimination subservience and superiority.  Acceptance of discrimination in some cultures may mean that it is not openly recognized.  Women and girls also fall victim to culturally acceptable traditional practices that violate their human rights.  Societies in many countries sow the seeds of violence against women and girls by portraying them as objects and sexual commodities  by downplaying their value, by glorifying a culture of violence in general, and by failing to report incidents of violence against women and girls.  

– The cultural acceptance of discrimination leads to structural discrimination whereby basic social structures form a bias against women and girls.  A lack of representation in leadership and governance means that women cannot effectively represent themselves and their needs.  Many governments adopt national legislation to end violence against women and girls but fail to implement it.  We recognize such implementation to be especially important when violent acts occur in private.  States must work actively to ensure that law enforcement and judicial systems prevent and punish violence against women and girls.  

– Economic discrimination prevents women from contributing fully as economic agents.  Although they contribute skills and economic output to their families and communities, they are often not acknowledged for their contributions and are hindered from participating in local, regional, and international economies.  In many societies, women are either unpaid or receive unequal pay for equal work compared to men.  Women’s lack of financial stability and their financial dependence on men affect their ability to provide for their families and make them vulnerable to violence.  This economic violence often puts women at risk to forms of physical violence including, but not limited to, domestic violence, human trafficking, rape, and other forms of violence.

PHEW!  Would love to hear your thoughts!


Why I’m Here!

I began this blog to keep everyone updated on my upcoming trip as a PC(USA) Delegate to the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations in New York.

In October I applied for and was chosen to be a part of the Presbyterian Delegation to The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in March, 2013.  The CSW is a functional commission of the United Nations Economic and Social Council which formulates policies that promote gender equality and the empowerment of women worldwide.  The theme for this year is “Elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls”.

That is my brief summary of what I will be doing the first two weeks of March.  And now…if you’re REALLY interested in what i’ll be doing:

The Commission on the Status of Women
The 2013 CSW theme is “Elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls”. The Commission will also evaluate progress in implementing the agreed conclusions from its 53rd Session on “The equal sharing of responsibilities between women and men, including care giving in the context of HIV/AIDS”.
The Commission on the Status of Women is a functional commission of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The CSW formulates policies that promote gender equality and the empowerment of women worldwide. The CSW further assesses progress toward the implementation of those policies.
Presbyterian participants advocate for God’s justice and peace, guided by General Assembly policy, with the CSW. Participation inspires and equips Presbyterians, women and men alike, to proclaim and advocate for gender equality and women’s empowerment at the local, state, national, international level.
During the meeting, emphasis will be placed on the sharing of experiences and good practices. Member States, non-governmental organizations and UN entities will participate in the session. A series of parallel events will provide additional opportunities for information exchange and networking.
The CSW is a functional commission of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). It is the principal global policy-making body dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women. Every year, representatives of Member States gather to evaluate progress on gender equality, identify challenges, set global standards and formulate concrete policies to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment worldwide.
The CSW has met annually since it was founded in 1946 to ensure women’s equality and promote women’s rights. Each session of the CSW focuses on a specific priority theme. The principal output of the CSW is the “agreed conclusions” document on the priority theme. The agreed conclusions contain an assessment of progress, as well as of gaps and challenges. They also contain a set of concrete recommendations for “action by Governments, intergovernmental bodies and other institutions, civil society actors and other relevant stakeholders, to be implemented at the international, national, regional and local level.” In addition to the agreed conclusions, the CSW may adopt resolutions on a range of issues. The report of the Commission is submitted to the Economic and Social Council for adoption.
The priority theme for the 57th session of the CSW is “Elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls”. The review theme (a review of progress toward implementing the agreed conclusions from a previous CSW) is “The equal sharing of responsibilities between women and men, including care giving in the context of HIV/AIDS (agreed conclusion from the 53rd Session)”.
Since the beginning, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) have played a role in the CSW. Representatives from NGOs come to the UN to advocate for the inclusion of their organization’s positions in light of the priority theme. Many NGO contributions have been incorporated into CSW’s agreed conclusions and resolutions. Additionally, UN Member States and UN agencies as well as NGOs sponsor events around the CSW. These include “side” events, which are officially part of the
CSW, and “parallel” events, which occur outside of the official CSW setting, that address the priority and review themes and provide opportunities for advocacy, learning, and networking.
Presbyterian Involvement in CSW
In 2006, the Churchwide Coordinating Team of Presbyterian Women recommended that a woman attend the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) as their representative. Since then the size of the delegation has grown to more than 40 people, and participation has expanded to include Presbyterians from across the church. Presbyterian Women continue to play a key role in Presbyterian participation in the CSW.
The 57th Session of the CSW will be held March 4-15, 2013. It will be preceded by a PC(USA) orientation on March 1 and other orientations on March 2 and 3. The events will be held at the UN headquarters and nearby sites in New York City.
Goals of PC(USA) Involvement in the CSW
1. To listen to the voices of women and girls who have experienced violence, hear their concerns,
and understand their visions for the elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against
women and girls,
2. to learn and use advocacy processes and skills, guided by PC(USA) General Assembly policy,
with the CSW with the goal of affecting the agreed conclusions of the CSW,
3. to inspire, equip, and connect Presbyterians to demonstrate and proclaim God’s justice, peace
and love at the CSW and in their local contexts,
4. to expand the inclusive and caring community of women and their supporters, and
5. to build and nurture networks with global ecumenical partners.
Expectations of Delegates
Members of the PC(USA) delegation to the CSW represent the PC(USA). The PC(USA) has special
consultative status through the UN Economic and Social Council. This allows Presbyterians to
participate in the Commission on the Status of Women and other UN-related events. The Presbyterian
Ministry at the United Nations represents the PC(USA) in the UN community.
I look forward to sharing more with you as I move forward in this journey!!