Given the long and strong commitment to education within the Reformed tradition, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s focus during the 60th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women was the importance of education for women and girls to sustainable development. The church raised this concern in our written statement to the Commission before its meeting. During the Commission, we raised this concern in our advocacy efforts with our partners in Ecumenical Women. The church was honored to be selected to make an oral statement to the Commission. Ryan Smith, Presbyterian representative to the UN, delivered this statement which urged the Commission to identify education for women and girls as key to sustainable development. The church offered a parallel event during the NGO Committee on the Status of Women’s Forum that focused on education as a way to break cycles of poverty for women and girls. The Presbyterian worship service held as part of Ecumenical Women’s presence at the Commission also focused on the importance of education.
The agreed conclusions of the 60th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women includes the statement: “The Commission reaffirms that the realization of the right to education contributes to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, human rights, sustainable development and poverty eradication.” The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) was part of the movement to include such language.
Working with our ecumenical partners, Presbyterians participated fully in the 60th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women and the related NGO Committee on the Status of Women’s Forum. They attended meetings of the Commission, side events on UN grounds, and parallel events at venues off the UN grounds. They learned and shared their insights. They worshipped and prayed. They advocated that the agreed conclusions of the Commission should include an emphasis on the importance of education for women and girls to sustainable development. They bore witness to the pain of our sisters used as “comfort women” during the Second World War and they advocated for sexual and reproductive health rights as well as human rights on sexual orientation and gender identity. They will continue to witness and work for gender justice and the rights of women and girls in a variety of ways.
The photo shows Presbyterians during worship; it was taken by Mark Koenig.