|Lelanda Lee at the U.N.|
UNCSW59 is the abbreviation for the 59th annual United Nations Conference on the Status of Women (UNCSW) being held in New York City from March 9 to 20. This year, for the first time, the Episcopal Church is participating as an official 20-person delegation, led by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. The church received official status as a non-governmental agency member of the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in May 2014.
For the Episcopal Church delegation the conference began on March 7th with the Ecumenical Women orientation day filled with vibrant worship led by the United Nations chaplain, the Rev. Dionne Boissière, greetings from UN Women’s Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, panel discussions, and workshops.
UNCSW is the principal global intergovernmental organization working on gender equality and empowerment for women. The commission focuses on issues such as including girls in education for all children, eliminating violence against women and girls, improving maternal and childbirth health, and empowering women to achieve political and social leadership roles.
This year’s UNCSW is particularly significant, because it is also the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action established in 1995 in Beijing at the Fourth World Conference on Women. Implementing the Beijing Platform for Women is this year’s UNCSW theme. However, as can be seen in a message from Director Mlambo-Ngcuka to “step it up” for gender equality, the world has fallen far short of its lofty goals established two decades ago, and women together with men are called to action to make gender equity a reality.
In September 1995, more than 3,000 people plus representatives from 189 governments, meeting in Beijing, participated in forums and intense discussions about human rights and equality for women and girls worldwide. The Beijing Declaration and Platform arose out of those conversations, covering 12 critical areas:
1. Women and Poverty
2. Education and Training of Women
3. Women and Health
4. Violence against Women
5. Women and Armed Conflict
6. Women and the Economy
7. Women in Power and Decision Making
8. Institutional Mechanisms for the Advancement of Women
9. Human Rights of Women
10. Women and the Media
11. Women and Environment
12. The Girl Child
Look familiar? Those 12 critical areas align with the 8 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that were identified by the United Nations in 2000, listed below. The Chinese say, “women hold up half the sky,” and achieving the MDGs relies upon empowering women and girls so that they can contribute fully to improving life in their communities. From our Christian perspective, we are called to respect the dignity of every human being, and it is good stewardship to utilize fully all the resources God has given us.
Millennium Development Goals (2000-2015)
1 To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
2 To achieve universal primary education
3 To promote gender equality and empower women
4 To reduce child mortality
5 To improve maternal health
6 To combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
7 To ensure environmental sustainability
8 To develop a global partnership for development
UNCSW59 offers the opportunity for women from many participating countries to put a human face on the critical issues facing women and girls and to commit together to raise those issues when they return to their home countries and communities.
I plan to blog and post photos daily from our activities in this blog and to Tweet from @LelandaLee.
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