While Sunday is normally a day for worship and rest, the UNCSW was full-steam ahead! The NGO CSW orientation day took place, with several hundred women and a few men gathering to learn more about what is possible when women are empowered economically.
United Nations Singers and poetry by (Canadian) Rupi Kaur.
We heard of struggles, we heard of successes, we heard of the ongoing desire for society to live up to women (not the other way around). We discussed how we need to honestly acknowledge our situation - locally and globally - and were invited to consider how we might best shift the mindset that prevents equality. We engaged in cross-sectional and inter-sectional topics that impact women's economic empowerment: forced labour, gender violence, heightening instabilities of climate and migration, domestic work, technology...
We were all asked to share: What does women's economic empowerment look like to you? The responses were as varied as the participants: food sovereignty - - being permitted to work outside the home - - "female reverend" - - equal pay for equal work - - free from fear of violence - - men supporting us - - not giving up - - working together - - education - - art - - He for She - - new norms - - progress - - trade policies - - interconnection of all rights (women, disabled, environment, LBGTQ...) There were hundreds.
I'm still pondering this question for myself and my neighbourhood, but also from a broader perspective: what does women's economic empowerment look like to the church today?
How do we, as the church, re-imagine the economic model in a way that highlights rights and equality for all of God's people?
How do we provide and embrace the prophetic voice, a model wherein we live out our baptismal vows? If we take seriously our covenant to respect the dignity of every human being, how then do we lift up the rights of our sisters and brothers everywhere?
How do we shift away from the contemporary status quo into an economy based on rights and dignity?
We as the church have the forum and the means of providing education and leadership at the forefront. We have the privilege to use these fora to engage with the world on matters that affect us all. It may not be easy, it may not be popular, but the church is called to offer strong leadership in the fight for justice.
The challenge is before us; we must discern how God is calling us into action. The church of today, the church of tomorrow, is a place that must not remain silent out of fear or complacence. We must be faithful in the promotion of equality, of holding up the rights of all whom God made in God's image.
I don't know how we do it... but I am praying for the courage and strength that we will be the church that will fearlessly and faithfully embrace this mission.
Perhaps the Sabbath Day was the perfect day for these thoughts to come... today we pray and imagine; tomorrow we begin to take action. God willing!