Magazine article Anglican Journal

Women's Activism Alive at UN. (World)

Magazine article Anglican Journal

Women's Activism Alive at UN. (World)

Article excerpt

THE COMMISSION on the Status of Women, part of the United Nations Social and Economic Council met in New York recently. The Anglican Consultative Council, as a nongovernmental organization (NGO) accredited to the UN, had delegates to the Commission led by Archdeacon Taimalelagi Fagamalama Tuaragaloa-Matalavea, who is the official Anglican Observer to the UN on behalf of the ACC. Lack of adequate funding meant that our membership was limited to women from the United States, and only myself from Canada, although invitations had gone to every province in the Anglican Communion. We took every opportunity to connect with other Anglican women who were attending on behalf of other organizations and ecumenical meetings were held daily at the Church Center opposite the UN.

As part of the 500 women from non-governmental organizations we attended the discussions by the Commission itself, or took part in any of the 120 side panels and caucus meetings, or we lobbied our own governmental representatives on the Commission. Each of the NGOs wrote position papers to be shared with other NGOs and voting members of the CSW.

Our statement recognized violence in many forms:

* War is responsible for poverty, displacement of people, foreign occupation, ethnic cleansing, colonialism, death and destruction;

* Domestic violence (including control by shouting, swearing or diminishing another, physical attacks, stalking and murder);

* Social or cultural violence was defined as caste systems, genital mutilation, indentured labour or sweat shops, lack of access to education and health services including reproductive choice, widow inheritance and spiritual manipulation;

* Trafficking, forced prostitution, rape, slavery and abuse of women and girls.

A major interface occurred when the Commission debated the inclusion of the word "religion" in a statement that tradition, culture, practice or religion could not be used as a tool or reason for imposing any form of violence against women. The U.S. and Iran refused to allow the resolution to pass and by the close of the event, no agreement had been achieved. The Anglican statement specifically named religious institutions in urging the Commission to develop mechanisms for holding all religious institutions accountable for any forms of violence against women. We urged states to dismantle harmful religious and cultural practices by bringing them into line with the international human rights standards. …

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