Ugandan woman appointed Anglican Communion observer at the United Nations

Mrs Hellen Grace Wangusa, the United Nations Africa Co-ordinator of the Millennium Development Goals, has accepted the call to be the next Anglican UN Observer.

The Revd Canon Kenneth Kearon, Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, in consultation with the Archbishop of Canterbury, announced the appointment of Mrs Wangusa today in London. Hellen will begin her work as Anglican Observer in January 2007, in New York with her office at the Episcopal Church Center. Her appointment follows the retirement last July of Archdeacon Taimalelagi Fagamalama Tuatagaloa-Leota the former Observer.

As a lay woman, Hellen has varied and extensive experience in her field. She holds a BA (Hons), Diploma Ed (Hons) and an MA in Modern Letters. Her undergraduate studies were taken at Makerere University in Kampala, where she worked as a teaching assistant and later as a Lecturer for the Literature Department. After leaving this post Hellen began work with the Anglican Church of Uganda as the National Women’s Co-ordinator. She co-ordinated district (Diocesan) staff of 27 women under her programme and was responsible for mobilising women as well as developing National programmes and fundraising, while also being the national link person with the global World Wide Mothers’ Union movement and the Anglican Communion.

From 1997-2004, the new UN Observer worked as Co-ordinator of African Women’s Economic Policy Network (AWEPON), in that post Hellen advocated for polices that ensured the needs of Women, Children and those from marginalised groups were met, to ensure that those most affected were central in determining decisions affecting economic decision making. Hellen is one of the founding members of AWEPON, as well as Gender and Economic Research in Africa (GERA), and the Council for Economic Empowerment of Women in Africa (CEEWA). Hellen has also successfully reactivated 2 organisations that had been closed: The Joint Mothers’ Union and Women’s office in the Province of the Church of Uganda and AWEPON which is one of the faith based women’s organisations in Africa that also co-ordinates the UN’s Millennium Campaign for Eastern Africa.

About her professional experience Hellen says; “I am facilitating a UNIFEM Africa Regional Meeting looking at New Aid Modalities. I have worked closely with local and international NGO’s as well as the International Financial and Trade Organisations. While co-ordinating the African Women’s Economic Policy Network (AWEPON), I participated in policy development and analysis and have published and spoken of how these policies affect the life of the Christian community.”

Hellen also says that with her experience as a representative to the United Nations for the World Council of Churches (WCC), she will be able to deepen her contribution to the Anglican Communion as a key player in promoting International Relations at the UN through Peace, Dialogue and Diplomacy. Wanting also to use her art of Diplomacy, she wishes to strengthen the rich contribution of the Anglican Communion into the political hubs at the United Nations and link that up with the UN committees in Geneva that specialise on Humanitarian work. Hellen says; “I am keen to use my representative position to focus on War, Peace and promote diplomatic means of diffusing tensions and resolving conflicts and from my ecumenical experience, promote relationships between member churches.”

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams welcomed Hellen to Lambeth Palace during her interviews in London. Speaking of the appointment he said, “I am certain Hellen Wangusa possesses the professional and personal qualities needed for this unique and important role at the UN afforded to the Anglican Communion. We are privileged in having an Observer in place and I believe Hellen’s gifts of leadership together with her considerable experience in Uganda and Kenya, will be helpful to her and to the wider Anglican Communion in the critical days ahead for the UN.”

Canon Kearon said, “I look forward to Hellen’s arrival as she brings so many gifts to this post. I also want to thank Canon Douglas Renegar and the staff and volunteers for keeping the New York Anglican UN Office working so well in this interim period.”

Hellen Wangusa is married with four children.

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