I am a member of the Mothers Union, a worldwide Anglican Womens organisation for the support of Women and Family Life. I have always admired my Mother-in-Law's work within MU, and enjoyed attending their Christmas dinners at the invitation of other friends but I didn't join until I read of the trouble experienced by MU leaders in the Sudan. They were placed under house arrest when they tried to attend a leadership meeting in Kenya - they were offensive for the triple reason of being women, Christians and organised. Suddenly this organisation was revealed as dangerous and subversive, and my subscription and prayer seemed to be the least I could offer. Not that my friend's work - they run a creche in a local prison and a neutral ground for estranged fathers to meet their children - is without danger. In Africa the MU are quietly busy with projects to improve literacy and discourage female genital mutilation.
Anyway the MU went to the United Nations last week to attend the 50th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) .45 governments and thousands of women (along with a few men!) get together for a fortnight in New York discuss about the situation of women in the world and to make recommendations for improving it. Each year the CSW looks at two themes; this year, they were Women and Development and Women and Decision-Making. The Mothers Union focused on the former, by sharing what it has learnt, particularly through the MU Literacy and Development programme where gender equality issues are central.
And came away disappointed. This press release tells why.
The United Nation’s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) has failed to adopt final conclusions on “Women and Development” after two weeks of deliberation. For Mothers’ Union (MU) representatives attending this event, this casts a shadow of doubt over governments’ commitment to women’s rights, and to their assertion at the 2005 UN World Summit that gender equality is essential to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGS)