Category Archives: Advocacy

Statement from the Anglican Communion Delegation at the UN CSW 57th Session March 2013

Statement from the Anglican Communion Delegation at the 57th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, March 2013

A Call to Raise our Voices: Faith in Action

Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed.Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.

Isaiah 1.17

We, the Anglican Communion delegation of women from 14 Churches and 17 countries, gathered in New York, 4 to 15 March 2013, to participate in the 57th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UN CSW57).The priority theme for UN CSW57 was ‘The Elimination and Prevention of All Forms of Violence against Women and Girls’.

As women of faith and representing the diversity of the Anglican family of Churches, we observed the proceedings of UN CSW57 and listened to a wide range of speakers. Where possible we met face to face with our country missions to the UN in order to advocate directly with them on behalf of women and girls in our different regions. We also participated in a full programme of UN and non-governmental side events dedicated to the priority theme. These meetings and side events gave us an opportunity to learn, and to share insights and concerns from our home contexts with government representatives, members of other church and faith traditions and non-governmental organisations. We were also able to share with others the progress we have made in many of our Churches, where leaders have spoken out and championed the work needed to end violence against women and girls and care for survivors, and where resources have been developed to assist our moving forward.

We thank God for the progress we have made. However, violence against women and girls continues as a global and often hidden pandemic.

Women and girls make up more than half the world’s population but many of them live in the shadow of violence and abuse with up to seven in ten women having undergone physical and/or sexual violence. Violence against women and girls takes on multiple forms – physical, sexual, psychological, social and economic, and includes interpersonal/domestic violence, rape, human trafficking, female genital mutilation and forced prostitution. It is a proven fact that violence against women and girls adversely impacts all of society. Violence against women and girls is a cause and consequence of gender inequality and gender injustice, compounded by numerous forms of discrimination.

The Church worldwide must be part of the solution.  Wetherefore urge all the Churches of the Anglican Communion:

1. to continue and build on the positive work already being undertaken towards the eradication of violence against women and girls
2. where silence and inaction persist, to end it. Speak out and begin the work.
3. to include men and boys as an integral part of seeking solutions to, and eradicating violence against women and girls
4. to implement Anglican Consultative Council Resolutions 15.07 on gender-based and domestic violence and 15.10 on the trafficking of persons
5. to encourage churches at parish level to become places of refuge and safety and participate actively in addressing violence against women and girls
6. to create awareness and provide training for clergy and the laity to recognise violence and to address it effectively.

 

We draw attention to existing resources around the Anglican Communion to facilitate and empower churches in their work towards eradicating violence against women and girls.

We affirm that all people are made in the image of God and that violence against women and girls mars God’s creation. We also affirm that Scripture brings the message of freedom, justice and love.

We call the Churches to recover their prophetic voice in speaking out against the gross injustice of violence against women and girls.

We challenge our Churches to become agents of justice, peace and reconciliation. Reconciliation must be preceded by transformation and accountability. As the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby, recently reflected: ‘There is a challenge to active cooperation with the life of God in our lives now. We live and we serve. The recognition by the Samaritan of the other as his neighbour leads to action, not mere existence. He becomes a herald of reconciliation.’

We are deeply grateful to the Anglican Communion Office at the UN for facilitating and supporting the Anglican presence at UN CSW57, and to The Episcopal Church for offering us space and a warm welcome within the Episcopal Church Center. We also extend heartfelt thanks to the many volunteers who so generously gave of their time to extend to us hospitality and care. We enjoyed and benefitted considerably from the fellowship of other Anglican and Episcopal women and men present in New York for events surrounding UN CSW57, and sincerely appreciated our interaction with Ecumenical Women, an international coalition of churches and ecumenical organisations which have status with the Economic & Social Council (ECOSOC) at the United Nations.

We commit ourselves to promoting the Five Marks of Mission, and in particular to seeking to transform unjust structures of society, challenging violence of every kind and pursuing peace and reconciliation. We pray for God’s grace and guidance as we strive to participate in God’s transforming mission in the world.

We Will Speak Out – International Women’s Day 2013

IDW March 2013

This will be an International Women’s Day that I will remember for a long time to come. Not just because I shook the hand of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, but also because of the sense of a step change in seeing violence against women ended. From the number of faith organizations engaged here at the CSW, which has  increased considerably since 2010, but also the level of welcome that people of faith have received.

My day started with a workshop in conjunction with Terrie Robinson of the Anglican Communion looking at a church response to violence against women. Entitled ‘We Will Speak Out: Churches ending violence against women’ we aimed to communicate what action the global Anglican communion was taking to end violence against women (VAW) and also, more specifically, what the Church of England is doing.

Terrie started out by looking at the Primates letter from the meeting on Dublin, Ireland in 2011, which states ‘our churches must accept responsibility for our own part in perpetuating oppressive attitudes towards women. In penitence and faith we must move forward in such a way that our churches truly become a living witness to our belief that both women and men are made in the image of God.’ This was followed up with the ACC resolution 15-7 on gender based and domestic violence agreed in November 2012. This, among other points, says the Anglican Communion ‘ endorses and encourages Anglican engagement worldwide with the We Will Speak Out coalition of churches and Christian agencies against sexual violence.’  It goes on to encourage theological colleges to train clergy and ministers on the ‘natured dynamics of gender based violence’ and the theological basis for ending violence against women. It furthermore encourages leaders to engage in campaigns to end violence against women.

My part was to speak out about the Church of England’s action on this issue. Siting the 2004 Synod motion which ‘urges all dioceses to consider ways in which they could (i) work in partnership with other agencies, co-operating sensitively with those serving minority communities, to provide the resources needed by victims and their families; (ii) speak out against the evil of domestic violence; and (iii) work for justice and safety in the homes of this nation.’ This resulted in the publication of Pastoral guidelines in 2006 to help churches respond to the issue of domestic abuse.

Practical examples of churches engaging in ending domestic abuse vary across England. For example my own church, St Stephen’s Twickenham, have had a few of the volunteer staff trained by Restored. We have also put up posters in the toilets for women to access help and support, along with me speaking at two services on the 25th November, the start of the global 16 days of activism to end violence against women. A church in Carlisle is running training for churches across the diocese on addressing domestic abuse and linking in with the local services provided. Each church trained has a ‘champion’ who raises the issue an acts as a point person for women to contact. There are simple things that can be done that can make a big difference. Restored’s church pack is a useful starting point and all the copies at the workshop went very quickly. It seems there isa  real thirst for practical tools to respond.

Having dumped our bags at ‘815’ (815 second avenue, the Episcopal Church centre that hosts the Anglican Communion and Ecumenical Women during the CSW, and does it so very well), we headed to the UN for the International Women’s Day march. It was snowing, very cold and wet. On arrival we were given tabards to wear as part of the march. We head off being led by Susan Sarandon to a street near by where we heard speeches from Christie Turlington-Barnes, Mrs Ban, among others. Susan Sarandon read out a letter from Malala (the girl from Pakistan who was shot on her way to school) which encouraged us all to stand up for the rights of girls. A well-timed call as some nations are trying to remove the language of ‘girls’ from the agreed resolutions.

Then Ban Ki-moon came on the platform. Everyone cheered. He is such a respected man by so many of us in working to end violence against women. He has taken action from his inception as UN Secretary General, to highlight the issue of violence against women. He established the baseline data and then moved into action. He encouraged the setting up Say No – UNite which calls on us all to take action to end violence against women, along with his network of male leaders to make a stand to end violence against women. Mr Ban did this at a time when engaging men was nowhere near as popular as it is today. Not surprising he is so well respected.

Cold, wet and soggy after the rally with sopping wet feet, I began to leave the march. As I came to the side of the platform Mr Ban was coming down the steps. I suddenly felt like a teenager at a gig with my hero standing so close. I made my way to the front and shook his hand and said thank you for all that he was doing. Thank you was all I could think of at the time. Thank you for standing with us. Thank you for leading the way for high profile men to make a stand to end violence against women and say no more. Maybe the simple heartfelt thank you was enough. Of course, it’s moment I will be recalling to my friends and family for a long time to come and long after they become bored of hearing the tale!

Restored has a Christian men’s campaign to end violence against women called ‘First Man Standing‘. It already has a good few hundred men signed up around the world committed to speaking up and out about ending violence against women. It’s linked with Christian Vision for Men (CVM) in the UK and also the White Ribbon Campaign UK. So if like Ban Ki-moon you’d like to join in the campaign to end violence against women, sign up here.

Days like International Women’s Day are needed. Needed to highlight the progress made but also the work still to be done. Here’s hoping that next year there will be less women abused and killed due to intimate partner violence. And here’s to a future free from violence.

Remembering the Women in the Shadows

Remembering the women whose voices have been lost

Remembering the women whose voices have been lost

A poignant ending to the day with Ecumenical Women when we marched together from the Salvation Army building to the Church Centre to remember the women in the shadows of violence. We remembered them as we speak for those who are not here, whose voice is not heard, reminding ourselves to speak up for others.

It was an inspiring and encouraging day meeting so many women, and a few men, at the briefing for the CSW. Alongside the much needed basic information for the first-timers, of which there where many, was detailed information on the draft agreed conclusions. This draft, currently 7 pages, will be discussed in depth over the next 2 weeks by country missions to the UN. There have already been many comments which has resulted in the 7 pages turning into 33 pages for the comments to be debated to return back down to a manageable document.

UN Women Deputy Director, Lakshmi Puri, arrived at midday to give an overview of the CSW and UN Women’s strategy. She ended with encouraging us and that her prayer was for a good CSW and agreed conclusions.

There is much emphasis being placed on achieving agreed conclusions after not getting them last year. This was due to a number of factors including some member states wanting to regress on already agreed language at the UN. The process is that all member states on the CSW have to agree the final document, so much of the discussions focus on specific terminology and language. This ‘all or nothing’ approach could be questioned and reviewed if agreed conclusions are not reached this year. Something that we are all hoping will be avoided. We want agreed conclusions so that member states act on them and adhere to them.

Never once losing sight of the reason we are here – to ensure that violence against women is prevented and ended.

Until then we remember the women in the shadows whose voice has been lost due to violence.

Key Messages from the C of E to the UN Commission on the Status of Women

These key messages were formed in consultation with the Mission and Public Affairs Committee of the Church Of England.

The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UN CSW) taking place from the 4th – 15th March 2013 has a priority theme of preventing and ending violence against women. The CSW is a key lobbying opportunity for the Church of England to ensure key messages are included in agreed conclusions coming out of the session for governments to heed and implement.

Key Messages from the Church of England:

1. Strategically include Churches and Christian Faith Based organisations, especially the role of the local church, in addressing gender based violence (GBV) & violence against women and girls (VAWG) so as to develop a holistic and multi stakeholder response.

Asks governments to ensure capacity development at the local level in raising awareness alongside supporting survivors of violence. Noting that the church is often the point in the community where survivors turn for help and sometimes the only community service available. The Archbishops (and many Bishops) in the DRC, Rwanda and Burundi are already actively engaged in working through supporting survivors of violence linking with UNAIDS with support from the We Will Speak Out Coalition.  Church and faith communities have also been working together in Bosnia on the whole range of sexual violence. The church leadership at a national level needs to be informed on proposed actions to share with the local Bishops and churches so they can be prepared to support survivors of violence.

Note: There is diversity within national and local churches on certain issues surrounding women and girls. The Church of England has zero tolerance for violence against women and girls.

Example Resources: Restored has produced a pack for churches on ending domestic abuse http://www.restoredrelationships.org/resources/info/51/


2. Challenging men’s attitudes and actions as well as including men in the response to work alongside women to end violence against women.

The Convention for the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) article 5 ‘requires State parties to modify social and cultural patterns of men and women to eliminate practices based on the idea of sex role stereotyping or the inferiority or superiority of either of the sexes’

a. Asks the UN to reaffirm the implementation of CEDAW and call on governments to actively pursue implementation of article 5.

Calls upon governments, churches, faith organisations, the private sector, non-governmental organisations and other relevant actors in civil society to undertake the following actions:

b. Encourage education and awareness raising of impact of sex-role stereotyping on the family and wider community of restricting every individual, both men and women, from realising their full potential in life and work to stop this stereotyping

c. Support men to prevent VAWG and challenging other men to stop violence

d. Educate, resource and support local church leaders on gender equality and preventing VAWG

e. Restore the balance of women and men working together for gender equality. Men working alongside women.

f. Recognise that men are victims of violence and need support services

g. Promote positive models of masculinities that embrace equality and foster gender justice

Restored’s First Man Standing Campaign asks men to respect all women, challenge other men’s attitudes and actions and join in the cause of ending violence against women by signing up to the White ribbon pledge. http://www.restoredrelationships.org/firstmanstanding/pledge/


3. Commit to Capacity development for local community organisations e.g the church

The Church of England supports the UK Foreign Secretary’s Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative (PSVI)that  will further enable women to choose whether to go forward with prosecutions.

Asks governments to support  local community organisations and churches to be trained and equipped to respond to stand alongside and support survivors of violence. Noting that there are community organisations and NGO’s already working in this area that could train locally or nationally given the resources to do this.

Noting that the Church of England is committed to developing a culture of openness in the churches to combat impunity, challenge stigma, shame and silence around the issues of violence against women and girls, recognising that violence against women and girls needs to be addressed within the church.


4. Address the wider issue of objectification and commodification of women & gender inequality

One of the underlying causes of sexual violence is treating women as sex objects and not as equals. The Church of England calls on governments to implement their commitments under CEDAW, the Convention for the Elimination for all forms of Discrimination Against Women, especially article 5 which ‘requires State parties to modify social and cultural patterns of men and women to eliminate practices based on the idea of sex role stereotyping or the inferiority or superiority of either of the sexes’.


5. End impunity for perpetrators by enforcing legal frameworks and training the judiciary and national police

Asks governments to,

a. Create, where necessary, legislation outlawing all forms of VAWG in the private and public spheres including harmful traditional practices

b. Ensure survivors of violence have safe & fair access to justice

c. Ensure survivors are actively supported throughout the justice system

d. Ensure convictions are implemented in line with the law and judgement given


6. Ensure proper, safe provision for survivors of violence

Urges governments to,

a. Provide proper, safe, support and fund programmes to support survivors of violence

b. Provide accessible information in the appropriate language or accessible communication method on how survivor’s can access support and justice

c. Ensure that all involved in enforcement of the law are fully sensitised and trained in handling issues of VAWG


7. Ensure the education system mainstreams the equal value and worth of boys and girls throughout the schools system.

Requests governments to,

a. Educate boys and girls at an early age on the equality and dignity of all human beings as laid out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

b. Conduct age appropriate classes on healthy relationships and conducting healthy relationships

b. Education on what violence is, how to identify it, make positive choices and get help when things go wrong.


8. Establish baseline data on levels of and types of violence against women and girls in order to identify the scale of the problem and fill the gaps in data where they currently exist.
Recognising the work already undertaken under the UN Secretary General’s database on violence against women and girls and the UNiTE campaign, calls on governments to record and publish data on violence against women and girls.

9. Encourage governments, private sector, faith organisations, civil society and other actors, to support the UK’s Foreign Secretary’s Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative and end impunity for perpetrators within their own nation states.
Requests governments to

  1. Ensure that local and national churches and faith based organisations are included in the response.
  2. Implement CEDAW
  3. Implement a programme of cultural change to ensure the equal value of women, men, boys and girls.


10. Address the issue of shame based violence (so called Honour-Based Violence) on a national level.
Urges governments to

a. Provide appropriate services for survivors of shame based violence

b. Address the shame based practices that lead to violence against women and girls

c. Work with local and national faith based organisations in the response to shame based violence

Questions:

What are your thoughts on these key messages?

Is there anything you would have liked to have seen included?

Do any of these questions resonate with your local church?