More than 100 delegates to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) from the Episcopal Church and 36 other provinces throughout the Anglican Communion gathered February 24 to begin two weeks of focused attention on issues that face women around the world.
The group, representing the Anglican Consultative Council, has grown from four delegates three years ago to more than 100 this year through the efforts of Anglican Women's Empowerment (AWE), a group founded by Phoebe Griswold, the Episcopal Church's Office of Women's Ministries and the Anglican Observer to the U.N.
"This is the only opportunity for Anglican women worldwide to gather and meet face to face," Griswold said, noting the busy schedule for the two-week event. "[You are] an unmatched resource. Let God carry the work ... I believe you all are called to this time and this place."
"Half of the world's population is women," said Anglican Observer, Archdeacon Taimalelagi Tuatagaloa-Matalavea, "and we have the power to heal, nurture and sustain. The future of human society depends on women's full participation."
The noblest goals will remain on paper, she added, "if not linked to the World Bank and entities that run our world." A fully inclusive and equitable economic system depends on the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and World Trade Organization "hearing how their policies affect the lives of women."
Since 1993, the transfer of funds from southern hemisphere nations to the north have increased from $69 to $354 billion. "There is something wrong in the economic model," Tuatagaloa-Matalavea said. Eighty percent of the world's domestic product belongs to 1 billion people in the developed world. The rest of the world—5.5 billion people—shares 20 percent.
"Another world is possible," she said, noting international trade, financial cooperation, and external debt as systemic issues.
The Rev. Margaret Rose, director of the Episcopal Church's Office of Women's Ministries, told delegates that their work included helping to develop a public voice for women's rights through the Episcopal Church as well as learning how to be an effective voice for the work they were preparing to do.
Angela King, former special adviser on gender equality and advancement of women to the U.N. secretary general, delivered a keynote address on the history of the United Nations and UNCSW. The full text of King's address can be found online at: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/3577_72255_ENG_HTM.htm.
More than 500 delegates from various non-governmental organizations (NGOs) met Sunday for a briefing with representatives of the Commission on the Status of Women at New York's University Hospital. The all-day briefing included panel discussions as well as breakout groups on the themes of this year's UNCSW: enhanced participation of women in development; an enabling environment for achieving gender equality and for the advancement of women in education, health and work; and equal participation of women and men in decision-making at all levels.
Further information about UNCSW can be found online at: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/uncsw.htm