Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children's Defense Fund, will be the keynote speaker for a worldwide panel of Anglican women on Sunday, March 6, from 3 - 5 p.m. in Synod Hall at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York. The topic is "Repairing the World: Anglican Women's Faith in Action." The public is invited.
Edelman's entire career has been devoted to promoting human rights. After graduating from Spelman College and Yale Law School, she became the first black woman admitted to the Mississippi Bar and directed the NAACP Legal and Educational fund office in Jackson, Mississippi. After working in public interest law in Washington, D.C., she founded the Children's Defense Fund to ensure that every child has a "successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities."
The panel will be drawn from Anglican women gathering in New York as delegates to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW). Each woman will tell how her personal faith has led and sustained her while working to improve the lives of women and children. Panelists will also discuss how all individuals can answer God's call in their work.
This event is being sponsored by the Anglican Women's Empowerment Team (AWET), a diverse group of women who, with the help of the Episcopal Office of Women's Ministries, supports the work of the Anglican Observer to the United Nations. AWET advocates and participants include several Episcopal bishops and bishops' spouses.
For the last two years, AWET has brought Anglican delegates from around the world to New York to share their work and faith while attending UNCSW.
This year, AWET expects 46 women from the Anglican provinces and 40 Episcopal women from the United States to be in attendance.
Last year, the Anglican delegates discussed how they were working to change attitudes in their own countries on issues such as AIDS and sexuality, interfaith dialogues, and the plight of widows. "These conversations, vital to the mission of the church, are essentially missing from the decision-making tables of the Anglican Communion," said the Rev. Margaret Rose, head of women's ministries in the Episcopal Church of the United States. "The voices of these women, working at the center of their communities, living out Christ's mission, are far from the dialogue which shapes the official conversation on reconciliation in our church today."
AWET also believes that such voices need to be heard in the political arenas of the United States and the United Nations, especially at this year's Commission on the Status of Women which marks the 10th Anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action, the historic meeting that laid out a plan to achieve full human rights for women. While there have been global advances in health care and education for women since the Beijing Platform, "the political climate for gender equality has gotten worse," according to Carolyn Hannon, director of the U.N.'s Division for the Advancement of Women. There is a huge income gap between men and women. Violence and discrimination against women and girls is condoned in many cultures.
AWET leaders say they hope that all who attend will be inspired to do the work that God has called them to do and support the empowerment of women as a peace and justice issue central to the mission of the Anglican Communion and the well-being of the world.
Further information about this event and others involving AWET and the Episcopal/Anglican delegates to the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women may be obtained by contacting Kim Robey at the Office of Women's Ministries, Episcopal Church Center, New York, NY 10017; telephone: 212.922.5346; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.