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Presbyterian delegates and church leaders headed to gender-equality gathering in New York

Tech-focused #CSW67 is a global effort to empower women and girls

by Darla Carter | Presbyterian News Service

The 67th session of the Commission on the Status of Women is March 6-17. During that time, representatives of United Nations member states, civil society organizations and UN entities gather at UN headquarters in New York.

LOUISVILLE — Thousands of people from around the globe, including a contingent from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), are headed to New York City for the 67th Commission on the Status of Women, a gender equality gathering that will be celebrated by the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the PC(USA), both Co-Moderators of the 225th General Assembly, and the president and executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency.

A PC(USA) delegation and a delegation from Presbyterian Women have been jointly planning for #CSW67 for months and will have members participating in New York as well as online during the March 6-17 gathering. Some say they are particularly excited about being able to go to the event in person, which was not possible during the pandemic.

Sue Rheem coordinates the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations.(Photo by Rich Copley)

“It’s hard to describe what it’s like to have over 5,000 delegates congregate at UN headquarters during CSW,” said Sue Rheem, who coordinates the New York-based Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations. “The energy and the excitement are palpable. Delegates from all over the world gather to share their stories and to advocate for equality and empowerment of women. While (the) online platform has its advantages in providing greater access, the in-person engagement leaves an indelible impact.”

Many of the Presbyterian delegates are under the age of 30. “Our youth delegation is really strong. We have 12 youth delegates who are coming and will be here in person and so it’s going to be a really exciting and fun-filled event,” Rheem explained during episode 5 of Advocacy Watch, a podcast about the work of PMUN and the Office of Public Witness.

PC(USA) dignitaries, including the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, will be in New York for the gathering. On Sunday, March 5, at 11 a.m. Eastern Time, Nelson will speak at a worship service celebrating #CSW67 at the Church of the Covenant. The following day, the Rev. Ruth Faith Santana-Grace and the Rev. Shavon Starling-Louis, Co-Moderators of the 225th General Assembly, will lead an ecumenical worship service at 8 a.m. (Eastern) Monday, March 6, at the Church Center for the United Nations.

“We’re really, really honored and very pleased to have their participation,” Rheem said during the podcast.

#CSW67 is the UN’s largest annual gathering on gender equality and women’s empowerment. In addition to the main event, there are hundreds of parallel and side events held during the roughly two-week gathering, where people bond together and glean knowledge to use in advocacy work at their local churches and beyond. Presbyterian orientation gets the ball rolling on Friday evening.

PMUN’s Ivy Lopedito is among the folks looking forward to participating.

Ivy Lopedito is a member of the PC(USA) committee planning for CSW. (Contributed photo)

“I have actually not had the chance to attend CSW in person yet, so I am excited to experience this commission in a new way with so many other delegates,” said Lopedito, who’s part of the PC(USA) planning team. “Getting the opportunity to join with people from all around the world who are seeking a common goal and (having) the opportunity for our voices to be heard is something that I don’t take for granted. I believe the energy and excitement will be palpable the moment we arrive at the Church Center and start our first worship experience together as an ecumenical body.”

The primary theme of CSW#67 is “innovation and technological change” as well as “education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.”

“The world is experiencing exponential growth in innovation and technological change in the 21st century,” Rheem noted. “It accelerated with the onset of COVID-19 pandemic as people were forced to isolate and quarantine. Innovations in technology allowed the world to connect and function in a new virtual reality; to socialize, to conduct business, and stay connected to family and friends. However, coronavirus pandemic also revealed the vast digital inequalities that disproportionately impact women and girls in underserved communities.”

One of the goals of the UN is to make sure that girls and women aren’t left behind and to address pertinent topics such as discrimination in the tech sector.

Follow the social media channels of the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations and Compassion, Peace & Justice ministries for updates about #CSW67 and Presbyterian involvement. Presbyterian News Service will also be reporting on #CSW67. The Communications team behind PC(USA)’s livestream program “Being Matthew 25” will be in New York for #CSW67 and will feature the event on its Thursday, March 16, episode at 1 p.m. Eastern Time. Watch it on PC(USA)’s Facebook page.

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