Report to Anglican Consultative Council on Women 2000: Beijing+5
February - March 2000 Meeting
This is the Report to the Anglican Consultative Council on the participation of Anglicans at the 44th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women, held from 28 February to 17 March, 2000, New York, New York, USA.
The Commission on the Status of Women is acting as the preparatory committee for Women 2000: Beijing+5, known officially as The United Nations Special Session of the General Assembly: Women 2000: Gender, Equality, Development and Peace for the 21st Century.
The UN Special Session will be held 5 to 9 June 2000 in New York, five years after the Fourth UN World Conference on Women. Beijing. It will appraise and assess the progress achieved in the implementation of the Nairobi Forward-Looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women (NFLS) and the Beijing Platform for Action (PLA), and to consider further actions and initiatives toward that end. The General Assembly designated the Commission on the Status of Women as the preparatory committee (PrepCom) for the review.
The Anglican Communion has Observer status at the United Nations. The interim Anglican Observer is the Right Reverend Herbert A. Donovan, Jr. (editor's note: the 2002 Observer is Archdeacon Taimalelagi Fagamalama Tuatagaloa-Matalavea). Address: Episcopal Church Center, 815 2nd Avenue, New York, New York 10017 USA. Telephone: 212-867-8400, Fax: 212-867-7767.
The Anglican Consultative Council is a NGO (non governmental organization) in consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). As such, it is entitled to send 5 participants to the CSW. The Anglican delegation was coordinated by Ann Smith, Director of Women's Ministries for ECUSA; and, as schedules permitted, was made up of:
The above-named were registered under the auspices of the ACC.
Many other Anglican women were present, representing a variety of NGOs.
Included in the United Nations Charter is the recognition that spirituality is an integral part of human nature. The Beijing Platform for Action was the first major UN document to say so explicitly.
This was the result of so very many women of faith going to Beijing and making the point that their spirituality was the driving force behind their concern for humankind. Anglicans were amongst them. Indeed, at noon, everyday Anglicans gathered in the Peace Tent to pray. The "Noonday Prayer for Beijing" and the document "Religion in the Platform for Action" are appended.
At the 44th session of the CSW, there were a variety of religious views represented. Very broadly, they can be divided into three groups:
Group 1. The Holy See
Group 2. The who oppose the PFA
Group 3. The who support the PFA
The Holy See signed the PFA in 1995. It seemed to be quite conservative in its approach to making the PFA a stronger document form women's rights and safety.
Group 2, those who oppose the PFA, numbered up to 50 persons at a time. They could be easily distinguished by blue buttons on which was printed FAMILY. This extreme right wing group, sponsored by a recently authorized NGO, REAL Canada, believes that if everyone lived in a faithful monogamous (mother and father) family, or lived a celibate life, all women would be happy, hence there is no need for the PFA. They were visible, vocal, and disruptive and caused distress to the women whom they confronted, threatened, or stalked. The women's caucus of the EU sent a strongly worded letter to the UN authorities. It is hoped that the presence of this right wing group and its tactics will not result in all religious groups being barred from the UN.
Women who identified themselves as Anglican fell into Group 3
Programs were organized.
One was "Religion: Women's Liberation, Women's Bondage: Religion and the Platform for Action". Panelists were Jean Hardisty, Riffat Hassan (Muslim), Teresia Hinga (Roman Catholic), the Rev. Rose Abby (Presbyterian, Ghana).
Another was "Religious for the PFA." Panelists were Marion Stevens (Anglican), Frances Kissling (Catholics for a Free Choice), Ani Choying Drolma (Buddhist Nun), and Karen Manz (Lutheran).
The speakers on these panels supported the view that religion can be a liberating force in women's lives, or it can be a tool for their oppression. Religious teachings from different faith traditions have often sanctioned violence against women, including domestic violence, rape and female genital mutilation. Despite such religiously sanctioned violence, women of faith from various traditions have worked within their traditions to offer new interpretations of religious teachings and to advocate that their institutions help end violence against women. Women are transforming their religious traditions, denouncing patriarchal teachings and offering new interpretations that liberate women from oppression.
UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM)
304 East 45th Street, 15th Floor
International Women's Tribune Centre
777 UN Plaza, 3rd Floor
Conference of NGOs (CONGO)
NGO Status of Women Committee
777 UN Plaza, 8th Floor
UN Division of the Advancement of Women
UN Plaza, 12th Floor
WomenAction 2000 (NGO)