Adapted from the Office of Public Affairs
With the 2015 United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) meeting on the horizon, the Episcopal Church submitted its first official written statement [PDF] to the 59th Session last October, detailing persistent challenges to women’s empowerment and gender equality and offering action steps.
This year, UNCSW will undertake a review of progress made in the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, 20 years after its adoption at the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995. The document outlined 12 Critical Areas of Concern in which progress needs to be made to empower women and girls.
The Episcopal Church’s statement identified four Critical Areas of Concern as “persistent gaps [that] continue to impede gender equality and empowerment of women and girls” 20 years after Beijing: Violence against women; Education and training of women; Women and health; Women in power and decision-making positions.
… The Episcopal Church also joined other members of Ecumenical Women in submitting a joint written statement [PDF].
While not referring to abortion by name, the Episcopal Church’s statement alludes to it within the category of “sexual and reproductive health”:
Cultural, religious and societal beliefs threaten to deny women the ability to participate in choices related to their bodies and in particular, their sexual and reproductive health. As a result, laws and programs are being rolled back or restricted in some areas. Addressing underlying beliefs through education and messaging must accompany financial and programmatic support for health care. In some areas, resource extraction, such as mining, endangers the health of women and girls and their families.
We urge member states to:
- prioritize funding for health care for women and girls;
- extend health care and medical care facilities to vulnerable or marginalized communities through investment and improved access;
- ban environmental practices affecting the health of women and girls;
- improve access to full sexual and reproductive health provisions, including family planning and disease prevention;
- promote public health awareness and education to reduce stereotypes and discrimination.