UCC Presence at United Nations

Advocacy at Commission on Status of Women

United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women Highlights Global Challenges for Women and Girls

Every March the United Nations hears from one its largest commissions, and the only one that focuses specifically on the human rights and living conditions of women and girls around the world. This year’s priority theme is Accelerating the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls by addressing poverty and strengthening institutions and financing with a gender perspective. Poverty intersects with so many other social problems that affect individuals in both developing and more highly developed nations. Gender equity is at the root of solving many of the problems that continue to affect and limit the empowerment of women and girls. Concerns such as lack of bodily autonomy, the right to own land or property, access to culturally responsive healthcare, and stigmatization of the needs of the female body are all barriers to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by the target date of 2030.

Dozens, sometimes more than 100, workshops take place every day inside and near the United Nations New York location for two weeks. Your United Church of Christ offered several to address the needs of women and girls and share how we are working with partner organizations to move the arc of the universe closer to justice. I had the opportunity to help my colleagues Beka Choate and Donna Bollinger bring some of our partners’ work into the spotlight as we focused on the menstrual health needs of women who are literally on the move. Hearing from our partners in Trinidad and Tobago, Nigeria, and Italy made real and gave faces to the stories of women and girls who are seeking safety and refugee status, who have been kidnapped and held by anti-Christian rebels, and who are living in developing nations where access to menstrual products is limited at best. It is powerful and necessary work that we are addressing with our partners through our financial, organizational, and prayerful support.

Every month in Encounters at the Well, readers will learn about our work on issues of gender in both domestic and international contexts. This month, I want to highlight the recent work of the New Hampshire Conference as they assembled for Creating New Tables, the theme of their 2024 Prepared to Serve gathering. The New Hampshire conference was able to assemble 700 menstrual hygiene kits (surpassing their goal of 600!) to distribute through Church World Service for people living in transition. They received a matching grant from the UCC National Ministries Global H.O.P.E. to assist in their project.

Addressing the needs of women and girls in an area that has experienced political and cultural conflict is challenging work. The YWCA of Palestine is one of our international partners that had representatives at the UN and whom we were able to spend some time outside of workshop settings. The women that we connected with spoke of the challenges of developing female leaders, and addressing day to day needs of women and girls of all faiths. All were former participants in the fantastic leadership development programs offered by the YWCA of Palestine, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to know, support, and pray for them while also considering how I can actively help them meet their practical needs in my role as Minister of Women’s and Gender Justice at the UCC National Ministries. I was profoundly moved by their stories and situation and look forward to connecting with them through our Global Ministries

Learn more about how the UN, nation-members, and people involved in the work around the
world address the needs of women and girls at UN Women, and learn more about where our
work with global partners takes place through our shared ministry with the Christian Church
(Disciples of Christ) at Global Ministries.

Lastly, I want to share with you that Break the Silence Sunday is the fourth Sunday in April every year. This year we mark April 28 as the day we hear, honor, and acknowledge the pain of survivors of sexual violence, and our communities recommit to ongoing reflection, support, and social change to address, advocate, and educate about this form of violence that is experienced disproportionately by women and girls. Learn more at Break the Silence Sunday and Break the Silence Sunday resources from UCC. I also want to express my thanks to Rev. Moira Finley who works so diligently to create resources and lead our denomination in this effort.

Dr. Sherry Warre, Minister for Women & Gender Justice, United Church of Christ 

Categories: Column Encounters at the Well

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