President’s Message: Breaking the Silence

Arlene Johnson, President, International Women's Convocation

by Arlene Johnson, Board President

Breaking the Silence

There is a pall hanging over American women at the moment and it has spread like wildfire through both conventional and social media.  It has touched a raw nerve in women around the world.  Sexual assault is on the minds of millions of women who, heretofore, buried their feelings of embarrassment, shame and pain related to their experiences.  The US presidential campaign has opened these raw wounds and now that the media is paying attention, several brave women have broken their silence and came forward to publicly relate their painful experiences.  In the US according to RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network www.rain.org), it is estimated that one in six women has experienced sexual assault at some point in their lives. This is an astonishing figure.

How can we help prevent sexual assault?  Everyone has a role to play in making sure their friends are not victims of this crime.  Some excellent suggestions can be found at the RAINN website, https://www.rainn.org/articles/steps-you-can-take-prevent-sexual-assault.   What part can the International Women’s Convocation play in helping prevent sexual assault? Without a doubt, we will be discussing this at our Third Convocation scheduled for February 16-19, 2017 at Asilomar Conference Center, Monterey Peninsula, CA.  If you haven’t already registered for the Convocation, it is not too late to do so.  If two or more women from your congregation register, they each will receive a $50 discount.  Ministers and young adults (age 18-40) will receive a special rate.  Please go to www.IntlWomensConvo.org/third-international-womens-convocation/ where you can find the latest Program Guide, registration details, and the workshop proposal form.  This will be an exciting and unique opportunity to meet with U*U women from North and South America, Western and Central Europe, Bolivia, Romania, India, Japan, the Philippines, and Africa.

I have an urgent request of our readers and friends of IWC to please donate to our Faithify campaign by the November 4 deadline, if you have not already done so.  We are hoping to raise at least $5,000 in travel funds for women from other countries who want to attend our Convo, but do not have a partner church in the U.S. to help them with expenses: http://www.faithify.org/projects/scholarships-for-the-third-international-womens-convo/

Elsewhere in our newsletter, you will find an interesting article by board member Elgiva Shullai regarding the excellent progress on women’s leadership training in India and an article about her recent trip to Romania where she exchanged leadership ideas with our board member Gizi Nagy.  Also, a great first-hand account by Justyna Borusinska on Polish women’s victory for abortion rights. We are pleased to share a recent interview by Barbara Beach with Rev. Sara Ascher, the new executive director of ICUU, and Laura Nagel’s article about the Feminist Economics of Caring and how it has guided programming for both the First and the Third International Convocation.  It looks at conventional economic theory and measures it from the perspective of women and other marginalized groups in the economy.

On behalf of the IWC board, I want to thank all of you for your unwavering support as we continue to weave global partnerships and forge a just future together.

 

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