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Presbyterians looking forward to gender equality event

U.N. Commission on the Status of Women will focus on empowerment, climate change

by Darla Carter | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE — Presbyterians are gearing up to participate in the 66th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, an annual gathering that will focus on empowering women and girls and protecting the planet.

A delegation of more than 40 people from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and Presbyterian Women will participate in the March 14-25 gathering, but they won’t have to leave their homes or offices. Parallel and side events will be virtual because of the ongoing pandemic.

During the two-week CSW66, representatives of U.N. Member States, civil society organizations and U.N. entities will come together to discuss progress and commit to further action.

The priority theme for this year is “Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls in the context of climate change, environmental and disaster risk reduction policies and programmes.”

Sue Rheem is the Presbyterian Representative to the United Nations. (Photo by Rich Copley)

“Presbyterians have been participating in the Commission for many years since there is still much work to be done in achieving gender equality,” said Sue Rheem of the Presbyterian Ministry at the U.N. (PMUN). “And data shows that climate change is disproportionately impacting women and girls, particularly women and girls of color and those in marginalized and vulnerable communities. We aim to raise awareness and to use this platform to engage Presbyterians for greater action to combat climate change, especially for those most affected by it.”

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres has said that greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel burning and deforestation are choking the planet and putting billions of people at immediate risk.

Guterres “has called climate change the existential threat of our time,” Rheem said. “Not only do we read about it in the headlines, we have been impacted by climate change in our daily lives — from floods, droughts, wildfires and the extreme weather patterns that have caused loss of life and property. So it is crucial that we address the impact of climate change on all fronts, and at all levels and in all forums in the U.N. system.”

While CSW is taking place, there will be various opportunities for Presbyterians to hear about how climate is affecting the lives of women and girls. The information and insight can be used to do advocacy work in churches and communities.

“Now more than ever it is necessary for young people to get involved in advocacy and justice issues,” said Leah Brooks, PMUN’s Young Adult Volunteer who’ll be helping to publicize the event on Instagram. “I am personally excited to participate in CSW to listen to and learn from phenomenal women leaders from around the world on issues that affect them. I am hoping to take what I learn and use it for my own growth, as well as to continue spreading information about climate and gender justice to young people wanting to get involved.”

Presbyterians are organizing a webinar featuring women who are involved in climate work and another webinar that is expected to focus on what young people have to say to the church about climate. Details will be provided as they become available.

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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