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Excitement grows as PC(USA) and Presbyterian Women’s joint delegation heads to New York for the UN Commission on the Status of Women

Activities include March 12 program on women’s empowerment co-hosted by SDOP and the Presbytery of New York City

by Darla Carter | Presbyterian News Service

Deidre Allen is pictured during the 67th Commission on the Status of Women. (Photo by Rich Copley)

LOUISVILLE — Empowering women and tackling poverty will be at the top of the agenda as a joint delegation of about 50 people from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and Presbyterian Women (PW) heads to New York to take part in activities surrounding the 68th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW68).

The Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations (PMUN) and PW team up each year to send a contingent to CSW, a global gathering designed to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women worldwide.

The Rev. Bronwen Boswell, Acting Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the PC(USA), will be among those participating this year, along with many young people and representatives from PC(USA) programs, such as the Presbyterian Committee on the Self-Development of People (SDOP), the Young Adult Volunteer (YAV) program, and Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries.

“I am looking forward to meeting other women from around the world and hearing and seeing what barriers they are continuing to break down and fight for women and children,” said Deidre Allen, Mission Associate for Recruitment and Relations for the YAV program.

The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women will be held March 11-22 at the UN headquarters in New York, and representatives of Member States, UN entities and certain non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from various countries are invited to contribute to the session. There also are numerous opportunities to attend side and parallel events related to key themes and issues.

Sue Rheem (Photo by Rich Copley)

“This year, we have delegates from across the country — West Coast, Midwest, South and the East Coast,” said Sue Rheem, PMUN manager. “We are shifting from a hybrid delegation, which was what it was last year, to an in-person delegation because that was the delegates’ preference. There’s a real sense of excitement and desire to come together in person.”

The priority theme for this year’s gathering 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.”

“The CSW themes are decided several years in advance, but it is very timely today as the world is coming out of the pandemic and dealing with a myriad of issues like (the) impacts of climate change and conflicts around the world,” Rheem said. “This year’s theme aligns with the Matthew 25 vision of eradicating poverty. We hope delegates will engage more deeply with the root causes of poverty, particularly as it disproportionately impacts women in our society, so they can be informed and equipped to take actions back home in their congregations and local communities —  and while here, engage with decisionmakers to do more to address poverty.”

Presbyterians will be hosting their own events before and during CSW68, including an orientation on Friday, March 8, and a side event on Tuesday, March 12, by SDOP and local partners.

The SDOP event, “Enhancing Women’s Voices and Rights: Creating Opportunities for Women to be Agents of Self-Development,” is co-sponsored by the Presbytery of New York City and will be from 4-5 p.m. Eastern Time at the Church of the Covenant. The event will feature partner stories of women impacted by poverty and its intersectional issues.

Margaret Mwale (Contributed photo)

“The Presbyterian Committee on the Self-Development of People forms partnerships with communities of economically poor, oppressed, and disadvantaged people in order to help them achieve self-sufficiency,” said Margaret Mwale, SDOP Associate for Community Development and Constituent Relations. CSW68’s theme “strongly aligns with SDOP’s central focus of poverty eradication,” which involves “awarding grants to community-led projects, doing anti-poverty work and providing opportunities for communities directly impacted by poverty to tell their stories.”

Other activities include a meeting between the Presbyterian delegation and the CSW delegation from Cuba that PMUN is looking forward to. “This year, we are inviting Cuban Mission Network members in the tristate area to participate as well,” Rheem said.

Maggie Collins, a 23-year-old Young Adult Volunteer from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, has assisted with recruiting delegates this year, with a special emphasis on attracting young people.

Maggie Collins (Contributed photo)

“About half of our delegates will be under 35,” said Collins, who’ll be attending CSW for the first time. “It will be really exciting to have a strong group of young people involved in CSW this year. I think that this will be a way to show the church the ways we can give opportunities to young people to be active in the advocacy of the church. I think it will inspire young people to seek out other ways to get involved in church advocacy, only strengthening our community as a whole.”

Allen will be returning for a second year. “I believe that representation matters and as an African American female leader in ministry, it is important to continue to speak out and be a voice for other women and girls for gender and race equality and empowerment along with (receiving) equal opportunities as our male counterparts,” she said.

The Rev. Dr. Mary Newbern-Williams, gap presbyter for the Presbytery of New York City, will be participating with her daughter, Joy Williams.

Along with addressing poverty, discrimination and education, this year’s CSW “will provide events that will seek to empower women to reach our full potential,” Newbern-Williams said. “Addressing these issues will benefit all who attend and the world at large. As we did last year, my daughter and I look forward to this year’s event.”

The Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations is one of the Compassion, Peace and Justice ministries of the Presbyterian Mission Agency.

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