Tag Archives: Anglican Communion

Thursday 20th March 2014: *Newsflash*

20 Mar

The agreed conclusions have been going rather slowly, despite the facilitator’s efforts to keep the pace up and be nearly done by lunchtime today. Yesterday evening we met with our negotiator from the Government Equalities Office and he did not have much of an update, other than everyone wants their two cents’ worth of input; and that posturing and attempted compromise continues.

This evening I have just received the latest version and a few more paragraphs have been agreed completely, with a few more nearly agreed. Of the ones nearly agreed, a few bits of our wording relating to women’s inheritance rights and equal access to justice have remained in. One paragraph that has been agreed addresses internet safety, although we can’t claim credit for that one!

I suspect the session will continue well into the night with interns being sent off to buy pizza and strongly caffeinated fizzy drinks. I, meanwhile, have enjoyed a session with the Anglican delegation (including our lovely Mothers’ Union members), reflecting on the past two weeks, and am now scoffing cough sweets to battle the dry tickle in my throat.

More to follow; until then, happy first day of spring to you all.

Advertisements

Wednesday 12th March: Keep on agitating!

20 Mar

On Wednesday I attended a meet and greet with Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. Quite a novelty meeting a woman bishop! With great warmth and welcome, she encouraged us to keep agitating to seek change in the world. During the same session, Mugisa Isingoma talked about her role as Mothers’ Union President for Congo and the need for her and other leaders to be role models to women. She also talked about her work with United Women for Peace and Social Inclusion, which supports women to become self-sufficient, particularly those who have survived rape and domestic violence. She highlighted how the women she works with do not want to keep telling their story but rather look to the future to see what they can achieve.

Afterwards, I attended an event on engaging faith communities to address sexual and gender-based violence, held by Episcopal Relief and Development and chaired by Terrie Robinson, Women’s Desk Officer with the Anglican Communion. She highlighted how people often look to the church for support and encouragement, yet how the church has often remained silent on the issue of domestic and gender-based violence. Rev Ann Marie Hunter of Safe Havens Interfaith Partnership spoke about how faith can be used as a weapon of abuse, as well as being a source of support and healing; and how faith communities need to repent and speak out against violence, as well as offering support to survivors. Other panelists spoke about the importance of faith leaders being educated about gender-based violence and becoming advocates for transformation.

At the end of the day I attended a reception hosted by Sir Mark Lyall Grant, the Ambassador and Permanent Representative, UK Mission to the UN New York. I was introduced to Maria Miller, Minister for Women and Equalities, and spoke to her about Mothers’ Union’s perspective on this year’s CSW, including the discussions Rhoda and I had had about girls missing school each month. I also chatted to Sharon Hodgson MP, Shadow Women and Equalities Minster, who told me her concerns about the sexualisation of young girls and boys, including their use of internet pornography and self-generated content such as sexting. She was aware of our Bye Buy Childhood campaign and the Bailey Review, having met with her shortly before coming out to CSW.

Friday 8th March: Happy International Women’s Day!

9 Mar

Happy International Women’s Day! This day has been commemorated since 1909 and provides a global opportunity to highlight the plight, progress and all that is wonderful about women. There was an official commemoration at the UN and yesterday a march through Manhattan had been organised.

This morning we had our final UK NGO gathering of the week and reflected a bit on our progress and functioning as a group. The consensus seems to be that we are working well together to lobby at the UN, especially considering our limited resources, and have some very committed people who have really made things work. Meetings will continue next week and we have already agreed to reconvene in April back in the UK.

As discussions on the agreed conclusions continue, there are a number of contentious issues. These include sexual and reproductive health and rights; acknowledging violence against girls as a problem; recognising intimate partner violence not necessarily in a domestic situation; and involving men and boys in ending violence against women and girls. It seems so obvious that these issues should be acknowledged as crucial in addressing violence against women and girls and therefore including in the agreed conclusions; but several countries seem to inhabit a very different world.

I managed to catch the end of an event run by the Church of England and Anglican Communion, on breaking the church’s Jeannette OOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnn Gsilence on violence against women and girls. The Q&A session yielded questions and comments from Mothers’ Union members Jeanette, Mathilde and Ann –  all waving the Mothers’ Union flag. Jeanette particularly enjoyed this event as it was interactive and goal orientated.

Jeannette and I headed over to the UN building to record a short video of Jeannette making a call to action to end violence against women.  We had to hang around the press ‘stakeout’ zone until after Michelle Bachelet, head of UN Women, had finished her interviews on IWD. Jeannette heads home on Sunday so we had a final debrief on her time here.  She has learned and absorbed much this week, made contact with her government delegation and will take home learning and new ideas.  I’ve had all too brief a time with her but have so enjoyed getting to know her and learning about life in Papua New Guinea – she’s an amazing lady.

J in wet snowI received no word on any further draft of the agreed conclusions, so it looks like I’ll have a break this weekend. There is no shortage of things to do in New York – museums, galleries, very tall buildings, Central Park, the river, shops, restaurants – a weekend isn’t enough to cram everything! Tomorrow is forecast to be sunny, a welcome change from the continuing wet snow. Jeannette was excited to experience her first snowflakes on her arm – her granddaughter will be intrigued to hear all about it.

 

1st March: Journey to New York

4 Mar

Today I arrived in New York to attend the 57th annual United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW or CSW) on behalf of Mothers’ Union.Heathrow T5

The CSW is an annual gathering of UN member states (governments) at the United Nations Headquarters  to discuss progress on the empowerment of women and gender equality; and, importantly, to make agreements on how to further progress. Each year takes a different theme and this year the focus will be on the elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls. During the two weeks of the Commission, governments work on an outcome document, know as the ‘agreed conclusions’. Once approved, each government should take these agreements and implement them into their own policy making and law.

Whilst these discussions go on amongst government representatives – be it Ministers for Women, ambassadors or civil servants – non-governmental organisations, such as Mothers’ Union, have the opportunity to participate and lobby officials on the content of the agreed conclusions. We also put on a number of seminars and workshops, to share information and showcase our work on empowering women.

Mothers’ Union has been part of this process for the past 14 years, and it is my privilege to carry the baton again, for the fifth time. This year I have the pleasure of attending with our Provincial Community Development Coordinator, Jeanette Oala, from Papua New Guinea. There are also several other Mothers’ Union members attending under the auspices of the Anglican Communion and other organisations. We get everywhere!

After a very pleasant flight I shared a taxi to Manhattan with Mandy Marshall, who is representing the Church of England and is from Restored, the international Christian alliance working to transform relationships and end violence against women; and also Terrie Robinson, Women’s Desk Officer for the Anglican Communion.

View from Beekman TowerAfter unpacking at the hotel, I found Jeanette in her room – so far our relationship has been conducted via email and it was great to finally meet her, after hearing about the great work she has been doing with Mothers’ Union to tackle violence against women in Papua New Guinea. My 6 ½  hour flight had been nothing compared to her 22 hours! My hotel room has fantastic views across East river.

Tomorrow we will start our work, heading down to the UN building to register.