Anglican women join world-wide review of women’s gains

About 81 Anglican women, representing different Anglican Provinces world-wide are preparing to gather in New York for the 49th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), which will convene from Feb. 28 – March 11, 2005.

Rev. Canon Alice Medcof
Rev. Canon Alice Medcof

The Anglican delegation accredited through the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) is composed of 41 women from 26 Anglican Provinces. The other 40 are from the U.S. Episcopal Church (ECUSA). They will join other women’s organisations from around the world for the CSW session also known as Beijing +10, to conduct a 10-year review of the implementation of gender equality commitments and to discuss remaining challenges and forward-looking strategies for the advancement and empowerment of women and girls.

The Anglican Church of Canada will be represented by Rev. Canon Alice Medcof, coordinator of the International Anglican Women’s Network (IAWN) and Annette Graydon, former president of Canadian Mothers’ Union.

The objective of the Beijing+10 review process “is to identify achievements, gaps and challenges in implementing the Beijing Platform for Action signed 10 years ago, by 189 governments, and the outcome documents,” said Ms. Medcof.

The Beijing Platform for Action included agreements aimed at eliminating discrimination against women, eradicating poverty and adopting measures for placing a number of women in key positions. It also recognized that the right of women to control their sexuality and reproduction is a basic human right.

“Besides joining other Canadian women in lobbying our government, CWS provides us an opportunity as Anglican women to assess the achievements and the challenges still faced by the Anglican Communion in its journey towards equality,” said Ms Medcof.

An Anglican Consultative Council statement to be presented to the 49th session notes that, although Anglican women have not achieved full inclusion and representation in the life of the Communion, significant strides have been made in the past 30 years: of the 38 Anglican provinces world-wide, 21 have endorsed the ordination of women as priests and three have elected women bishops.

However, since most Anglicans in leadership positions are men, the issues of power and control remain pre-eminent, says the statement. It notes that the “four instruments of unity” for the Anglican Communion — the Archbishop of Canterbury, the 38 Primates (heads of provinces), the Lambeth Conference and the Anglican Consultative Council are mainly headed by men. “Out of the 815 leaders, just 28 are women, making it clear that Anglican women have a long way to go before achieving parity,” says the statement.

The Anglican women’s gathering is also intended to strengthen IAWN in its efforts to ensure that poverty and other issues affecting women and families are given the highest priority by governments and the leaders of the Anglican Communion.

“The women gathering will be an opportunity for the network to listen to different experiences of Anglican women which will help shape the work of network,” said Ms Medcof.

As most meetings are closed to the general public, the office of the Anglican Observer to the UN will sponsor two-side events: African Women Making a Difference: A hopeful story from Rwanda, featuring a film “Ladies First” which highlights the leadership of women in the aftermath of genocide and their roles in government, business, education and reconciliation.

The other event; Repairing the World: Anglican Women’s Faith in Action, features a panel discussion moderated by Archdeacon Tai Tuatagaloa-Matalavea, Anglican Observer and a keynote address by Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children’s Defense Fund.

For further information please contact:
The Rev. Canon Alice Medcof, Coordinator
International Anglican Women’s Network
Or Visit the UN website:

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