A cross-section of Presbyterians are currently taking part in a United Nations-based effort to raise the status of women.
Thirty-two Presbyterians representing Presbyterian Women, the National Network of Presbyterian College Women, Racial Ethnic Young Women Together and Presbyterian Men are participating in the 52nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women, a body of the United Nations Economic and Social Council.
The commission’s gathering is at the United Nations in New York City from Feb. 25 to March 7. The Presbyterians have joined some 5,000 leaders from non-governmental organizations, members of the commission and representatives from all national delegations to the United Nations for events under the main theme “Financing for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.”
The issues of the commission have to do with women’s and girls’ rights all over the world, said Louise Davidson, vice moderator for justice and peace for the churchwide coordinating team of Presbyterian Women. “By joining our voices … we empower women all over the world.”
Ending violence and discrimination against girls and women, as well as getting governments to change their financial structures to better support women are among the areas the commission is working to address, she said.
The hope is that this “will empower and develop women’s economic lives as well as their social and political lives,” Davidson said.
In addition to the main theme of the event, the commission also will examine the emerging issue “Gender Perspectives on Climate Change,” according to a press release on the gathering.
And, the commission “will review the status of implementation at the national level of the recommendations on ‘Women’s equal participation in conflict prevention, management and conflict resolution and in post-conflict peacebuilding,’ adopted at its 48th session in 2004.”
Presbyterians, particularly Presbyterian Women, have been “just a wonderful force … in the midst of this to bring the church’s concern about justice for women into the context of the UN,” said Joel Hanisek, the Presbyterian representative to the UN. “It’s essential for the church to be speaking out.”
This year’s theme of financing for development is “basically about whether there will there be funding to assure that women have a place at the table,” he said. “It’s important for the church to be a part of that work.”