“What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? / The world would split open.”
Poet Muriel Rukeyser

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Question of Activism

Sunday was an amazing day of listening, sharing, and learning between a large group of ecumenical women attending the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) and the parallel NGO events.

Monday many of us attended an NGO orientation at the Salvation Army on 14th between 6th and 7th streets in NYC. The keynote speaker was Michelle Bachelet, former President of Chile and current Under-Secretary-General at the United Nations and Executive Director of the new United Nations Women. In July 2010 the UN passed a resolution creating the UN Women, which formally combined four previous entities into an official structure of the United Nations. Having Ms Bachelet as the Executive Director of UN Women and as the Under-Secretary-General is amazing - women have a voice at the top level of the United Nations.

Michelle Bachelet gave an inspiring and informative speech articulating the goals of UN Women, which you can read here. She said, in part:

I wanted to share with you how UN Women will implement the vision on which it is grounded. This is a vision of a world where women and men have equal rights and opportunities, and the principles of gender equality and women’s empowerment are firmly integrated in the development, human rights, and peace and security agendas.

To meet this objective, UN Women will centre its work around five core principles:
1) providing demand-driven support to national partners to enhance implementation of international agreements and standards;
2) supporting intergovernmental processes to strengthen the global normative and policy framework on gender equality;
3) advocating for gender equality and women’s empowerment, championing the rights of women and girls — particularly those who are most excluded;
4) leading and promoting coherence in UN system work on gender equality; and
5) acting as a global broker of knowledge and experience, aligning practice with normative guidance.

This morning I listened and watched on webcam the opening session of the UNCSW. Once again Ms. Bachelet spoke with eloquence and clarity about the importance of eliminating violence against women, providing quality education, and enabling the means for women to have access to quality employment in order for countries around the world to create sustainable peace and economic growth.

The question floating around, and one I hope we have an opportunity to explore, is:

How do women clergy, and women who are discerning calls to ordination, incorporate activism into our vocational leadership?