IAWN Contact:The Revd Canon Alice Medcof
Stop Human Trafficking: Presentations and resources from the IAWN-Canada conference on ending and preventing human trafficking held in British Columbia, Canada, November 2014.
Women's issues and concerns
Vision for women
Our vision here is to become relevant to Canadian women and to help them see beyond our own borders. In addition, we need to see what is going on right here. Aboriginal women need a strong voice within the church and even more so within our social and political structures. We have asked the bishop and the staff with special responsibilities in that area to meet with us and to develop some structures which would enable the IAWN-Canada to become relevant in the lives of women living on reserves or in cities. There also is a need for immigrant women from many countries to be an active part of the church and society. Our vision is wide, now we need to develop ways of making visions real.
Women in decision making
There is a history here within the church of having women participate in the synods and other decision-making units of the church. But the awareness of that need for equality does not always surface when elections are made at the parish level to send women to serve on parochial committees, on diocesan synod committees, or at the general (national) synod. Part of the issue lies in the fact that there are other categories also considered - youth, geographic distribution, expertise in certain areas - which sometimes cut down the number of women. We do not have a women's desk nor is there much hope for getting one again. It was (in my view) erroneously decided that women had a real voice in the church so that it was no longer needed. When, as a voting member of general synod, I raised an issue about women in the church, I was opposed by another woman who maintained that we already were equal. Clearly she had not counted men and women there!
Ordination of women
Women are able to be ordained at all levels.
Women priests are increasing in numbers rapidly and more of them are rectors of very large churches. The seminaries report that over fifty per cent of their students are women so it can be expected that a fifty-fifty balance will be reached in the future as more male priests retire. Women bishops, on the other hand are increasing slowly but those we have are great. One of them, Victoria Matthews, was a very close runner up in the election for Primate. She continues to serve on international commissions in the church. When The Rt. Rev. Fred Hiltz was elected Primate, a woman, Sue Moxley, became his successor as bishop of his former diocese. She was part of the Anglican delegation to the 52nd Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women and has shown interest in the IAWN.
Activities related to the MDGs and Beijing Platform for Action
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are a marvelous bar to be reached. In order to keep it from seeming overwhelming, there is a matched list of what each of us can do to implement them. That always leads to discussions which reach into not only what individuals can do, but also what churches, organizations, and societies can accomplish. We usually take a look at legislation and how in a democracy we can affect the laws or regulations that can move each of the MDGs forward. For practical purposes of focussing on one of them, the IAWN-Canada has taken on number three, on the empowerment of women. That in turn becomes part of any discussions about aboriginal women's concerns. Poverty, which affects elderly women in greater numbers than most others, is also an issue and one to which we have become immune. I have called it "The last of the socially accepted abuses"!
(Italics = organisations that work on MDGs but not specifically women)
Church: Anglican Church Women, Mothers' Union
Ecumenical: Women's Inter Church Council, Society of St. John the Divine convent
Secular: Voice of Women, National Action Committee on the Status of Women, YWCA, Retired Teachers, (United Nations Association)