With the soon-to-be released DVD "Shall We Gather: Anglican Women Together," Anglican women have taken another step toward making their voices heard loud and clear.
"Shall We Gather: Anglican Women Together" documents the 2005 gathering of the Anglican Communion's delegates to the 49th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW). With the leadership of Anglican Women's Empowerment (AWE) and in partnership with the Office of the Anglican Observer at the United Nations and the Office of Women's Ministries of the Episcopal Church, a delegation was formed for the historic 10-year review of the Beijing Platform for Action (BPfA).
Called "a resource for dialogue on a Christian response to injustice in the world," the DVD and its study guide "are intended as a vehicle for putting faith into action through the framework of the BPfA and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)," according to the guide.
Viewers are invited to watch "to pray together for all God's creation," and to explore the question that Angela King, former UN assistant secretary general and special advisor on gender issues, raises: 'While progress (toward gender equality) has been made, the challenge to women, and particularly to Anglican women, is how in my situation, my country, my diocese, how can I make this a reality?'"
In the film, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan addresses some practical ways of doing the work. They include:
- Strengthening girls' access to secondary as well as primary education
- Guaranteeing sexual and reproductive health rights.
- Investing in infrastructure to reduce women's and girl's time burdens.
- Guaranteeing women's and girls' property and inheritance rights.
- Eliminating gender inequality in employment.
- Increasing women's share of seats in national parliaments and local governments.
- Redoubling efforts to combat violence against girls and women.
"Women bring a much needed balance to the decision making table," said Phoebe Griswold, wife of Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold and catalyst of the AWE group. "They bring their concerns and agendas which are less about borders and boundaries than about human welfare."
Anglican women began to make their voices heard at the UN in 2003, when a small group attended the annual meeting of the UNCSW. By 2005, the delegation had grown to 85 women from every part of the globe.
"This is the only gathering of so many women in the Anglican Communion and the most fully representative of Anglican provinces," said Griswold. "It's a historic moment in the life of the Communion."
During the 2005 session of the UNCSW, the delegates focused on the implementation of the BPfA with regard to the well-being of their communities, the Anglican Communion, and the world. At the conclusion of the session, the Anglican delegation drafted a resolution for gender equality that was presented to the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) in June 2005 and passed unanimously.
The 50th anniversary of the UNCSW will be held in New York City from February 24 -March 8. Ninety-six women representing 37 provinces – the largest-ever gathering of women from around the Anglican Communion - are expected to attend.
"Shall We Gather: Anglican Women Together" was produced by Metropolitan Arts for the AWE and World Mission Sunday. It is not being sold due to copyright restrictions and will only be available through the Mission Sunday mailing to parishes and Episcopal resource centers.