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Presbyterian delegates to the 67th Commission on the Status of Women share what struck them and what they’ve taken home

The barriers women face to accessing technology are ‘surprising and sobering,’ says one

by Mike Ferguson | Presbyterian News Service

From left, the Rev. Beth Olker enjoys a meal with Joy C. Williams and Hyun Joo Nam during the 67th Commission on the Status of Women. (Contributed photo)

LOUISVILLE — Young delegates to this month’s 67th Commission on the Status of Women called the opportunity “an awesome privilege” and “memorable” in reflections completed on behalf of the ministry area that supported their time in New York City, Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries.

“This event was the opportunity of a lifetime,” wrote Joy C. Williams. “I was able to learn about the challenges and opportunities that women face in 2023 regarding technology, careers and the importance of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) programs. I also enjoyed the worship services (read more here and here) and the Salvation Army Choir,” which Williams called “a breath of fresh air for the entire event … We also had a chance to join in song with them. It was a blessing to join in song with other Christian women and men in praise of God.”

“I honestly had no idea what I was getting myself into when my head pastor first introduced this event back in December,” wrote Hyun Joo Nam. “I believe God appointed me this time to link the social issues present in modern times and connect people in communities to the awareness that is around them.”

Both women listed worshiping at Church of the Covenant, also known as the “Church of the United Nations,” as a #CSW67 highlight. An added bonus for Williams was joining a weekly Zoom call there with denominational leaders including the current Co-Moderator, the Rev. Shavon Starling-Louis; Dr. Thelma Adair; and the Rev. Althelia H. Pond, pastor of Mt. Morris Ascension Presbyterian Church. “It meant so much to me to be able to meet with these women, to hear their thoughts about the PC(USA) and to share my thoughts and hopes for the denomination,” Williams said.

Hyun Joo Nam

“The fellowship hall at [Church of the Covenant] was filled with blessings and prayers, and I loved how we were able to gather and share our expectations,” Nam said. “The time itself provided such deep meaning as how faith advocates would be pressing on the issues that we would come to hear. It was also a great opportunity to connect with our own delegation, all of whom I met for the first time.”

Williams called it “surprising and sobering” to learn that women hold “only one-third of the technology jobs in the 20 largest technology companies in the world … An increase in women with STEM jobs would mean increased wealth for their communities, so it’s a problem worth much attention.”

Williams also appreciated meeting with Starling-Louis and Young Adult Volunteers “to hear their experiences and thoughts working in the denomination. It made me realize that we have a long way to go. Still, regarding equity for women, especially women of color — it’s an issue worth fighting for.”

Joy C. Williams

Nam said Presbyterian Women, a #CSW67 partner, “helped me navigate through the conference” by “sharing their many years of experience and insight on the matters regarding the priority theme of innovation and technological change and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.”

Nam also learned from people of other faiths. “It was interesting to hear how other faith advocates approached the sessions and the heart of passion they had on various matters from [developing] countries to pushing young women into the field of STEM,” Nam wrote. “From the conversations I was able to come to a conclusion on a question I had pondered for a long time — the relationship between religion and politics.

“One of the young delegates mentioned that there is essentially no divide between the two; rather, they work hand in hand. Politics have derived from religion to provide governing rules and order to the masses (Romans 13). Being a faith advocate myself, it was eye-opening to see and hear the current status of women in various sectors from different countries around the world presented by women from various delegations and non-governmental organizations.”

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