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Day One Report from the Opening of UNCSW

Rachael Anderson, Mothers’ Union’s Events and Digital Communications Manager, is currently at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) in New York with a delegation of Mothers’ Union and Anglican members from across the world. Here she reports from the opening day yesterday (12 March).

12 Mar 2018

Delegates from the Anglican Communion and Mothers’ Union gathered at the opening ceremony of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) yesterday in New York. It also marked the beginning of our time together in the city.

In his opening statement, U.N Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, said, “The issue of gender equality is a question of power. We live in a male dominated world, and many social problems are rooted in the damaging legacy of centuries of patriarchy.” He reinforced the importance of gender equality. There was much agreement in the room when he said: “Gender equality relates to everything we do.”

Sharing the priority areas that need to be addressed, he spoke out against domestic violence stating that, “attacks on women are attacks on all of us.” Alongside this Secretary General Guterres spoke of the 15 million girls who are forced into marriage and those who undergo female genital mutilation.  The Anglican Church has heard much recently about the role of women in Peace and Reconciliation and so it was interesting to hear that currently just 3% of peacekeepers are women and Guterres called for more women leaders in the peace process.

It was encouraging to hear positive affirmation of the contribution that women make to the economy and the potential for increased contribution to be made in the next decade. As he ended his speech there was much applause as he vowed to support the cause of gender equality in every way, to stand up for women’s empowerment, calling for more men to be involved because “Equality works for the world.”

Following on from the opening ceremony there was opportunity for fellowship together and we were further encouraged by Bishop Michael Curry, presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, who led an inspirational Eucharist for all Anglicans attending UNCSW. In his sermon he emphasised the importance of women and how they are often “game-changers” in bringing about change in communities. He encouraged us by saying, “it is your job to go forth this week and do God’s work.”

Both the Anglican Communion and Mothers’ Union delegates are attending CSW from around the world – each bringing their own experiences and trials of being a rural woman. They are passionate about bringing change to their communities and being a part of the dialogue lobbying their governments for better rights for women.