Ecumenical Women at the United Nations, an international faith-based coalition that prominently includes women of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), today (March 20) called on the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) meeting in New York to enact a number of programs and resolutions to improve the plight of the world’s women.

In brief public testimony to the commission on behalf of Ecumenical Women, Christine Mangale ― a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Lutheran World Federation ― called for increased efforts by the U.N. and its member nations to address four key issues identified by the group as critical for women worldwide:

  • poverty and hunger, which disproportionately impacts women and children worldwide;
  • greater access to employment;
  • greater access to health care services for women; and
  • prevention of  violence against women and girls.

In a companion statement ― prepared for the group by the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations and endorsed by all Ecumenical Women member groups represented at the Commission meeting except the World Council of Churches ― Ecumenical Women called the Commission’s attention to “the important role that faith-based organizations have played in the implementation of the [U.N.’s] Millennium Development Goals, including food programs, education, healthcare, housing, water and sanitation, capacity building for women and girls and much more.”

The statement continued: “Our network’s pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals provides a unique vision of our achievements and the challenges still ahead.

Signatories to the statement include the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.);Anglican Consultative Council; Association of Presbyterian Women of Aoteaora, New Zealand; Church Women United; Lutheran World Federation; The Salvation Army; Society of Catholic Medical

Missionaries; United Church of Christ - Board for World Ministries; United Methodist Church -

General Board of Global Ministries; World Student Christian Federation; and the World Young

Women's Christian Association, with support from the Episcopal Church and the Women’s

Missionary Society of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

More than 40 Presbyterian women attended Commission-related activities representing Presbyterian Women, Racial Ethnic Young Women Together, and the PC(USA)’s Advocacy Committee for Women’s Concerns. Presbyterian Mission Agency Executive Director Linda Valentine and World Communion of Reformed Churches top official the Rev. Dora Arce Valentin, a Cuban Presbyterian minister, were also present.

“The PC(USA) has been really active and engaged in the whole process,” noted Ryan Smith of the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations. Ecumenical Women doesn’t have official status with UNCSW, but was able to present official testimony to the commission through the PC(USA), which does have formal access.