Forty-one women from 27 Anglican provinces have called on the Anglican Consultative Council to implement its goal of 30 per cent representation of women in decision-making bodies at all levels of the Anglican Communion, and to aim for a 50 per cent representation by the year 2010.
Such representation would “reflect more justly” the current makeup of the Communion, the women said.
The call was part of a joint statement issued at the end of the 49th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in New York which met Feb. 28 to March 11.
During the two-week session, the delegation said poverty, poor education, violence and lack of access to good, affordable healthcare continue to “impede world-wide development.”
The delegation also endorsed the reaffirmation by the UN commission of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action first adopted in 1995, which called for measures to promote gender equality and the advancement of women.
Anglican women delegates also led a forum entitled Repairing the World: Anglican Women’s Faith in Action. The forum, held March 6 at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, focused on the status of women and children in their respective provinces. (A video of the forum is available)
“God is using Anglican women to repair the world,” said Amelia Ward, chair of the Episcopal Church of Liberia’s development department, as she talked about how women and children have suffered the brunt of her country’s 14-year war. Ms. Ward said Liberia’s drawn-out conflict has resulted in 750,000 refugees and 1.2 million displaced people; women have been raped and persecuted and children have suffered abuse and neglect. “There is a high emotional and psychological cost of rebuilding our society,” she said.
Pauline Sathiamurthy, general secretary of the Church of South India, said her church has been struggling to “put some sense” into Indian society, which has the highest incidence of female feticide (selected abortion of female fetuses) and female infanticide. “Poverty, social restrictons, cultural expectations force mothers to go for abortions,” she said.
Esther Mombo, dean at St. Paul’s United Theological College in Kenya, talked about the plight of women and children infected by HIV and AIDS. “They live in a context that is violent and they are violated every day,” she said. “My role is to help students break the silence of the church on HIV and AIDS.”