Women should be fully included at all levels of leadership in the Church - Anglicans tell the UN

Women should be included fully at “all levels of decision-making and leadership in the Church" the delegation concluded.(Photo: Keith Blundy)

"Gender equality applies to all human beings and should be a discussion for all women and men, girls and boys," the Anglican Communion delegation to a UN commission has concluded.

Following the 59th Session of the UN Commission for the Status of Women (CSW59) earlier this month, the delegation released a statement urging the Church to take up the fight for women's rights.

"As Christians we proclaim that God created men and women as human beings in God's image. Gender equality is a human right," the statement says.

"It is incumbent upon governments and the Anglican Communion to legislate and implement laws, policies and programmes that enable gender equality. Special attention needs to be paid in regard to education, economic participation, participation in decision making and leadership, and women's health initiatives, it is essential to."

The statement quotes Phumzile Mlambo Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women, as saying: "No country shines when it comes to gender equality...We still have work to do!" Speaking at the Ecumenical Women Orientation Day, Ngcuka specified that faith groups have a key role to play in transforming stereotypes, negative social norms and behaviour.

Globally, one in three women is a victim of gender-based violence, including child marriage, sexual abuse, rape and domestic violence, and the delegation's statement urges the Church to lead in advocacy and the provision of education.

It also highlights climate change and human trafficking as ways by which the world's poorest communities, many of them largely women, are made more vulnerable. The delegates, comprised of representatives from over 14 countries, therefore called on churches to support the Global Freedom Network, a joint initiative of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Pope to combat modern slavery.

They note that the Anglican Communion has committed to "to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation," as stated in its fourth Mark of Mission.

"We, the Anglican Communion delegation at CSW59, invite the whole Anglican Communion to 'step up' to the challenge of Planet 50/50 [full gender equality] by 2030 and to take seriously the Church's mission to stimulate and support the social change required to achieve such a goal," the delegation concludes.

"This will require courage, prayer and deep discernment within our churches as we work to put our own house in order as well as urging the wider community to work to enable women and men everywhere to be recognised as equal in the eyes of God, and for the structures of church and society to reflect that equality in every aspect of life."

Women should be included fully at "all levels of decision-making and leadership in the Church, the careful stewardship of the earth's resources, and zero tolerance for violence in all its forms," they add.

"We believe that it is an essential part of the Church's mission that we promote the full human flourishing of all God's children, including God's daughters."