By Zsófia Sztranyiczki, IWC Executive Director
On April 13, 2019 in New York City, IWC president Rev. Addae Ama Kraba and Rev. Ma. Elvira Peras Sienes, coordinator of the Women’s Association of the UU Church of the Philippines (UUCP) signed a Memorandum of Understanding outlining key areas of collaboration. The event was preceded by a panel discussion on global gender equity, which was open to the public. In attendance were several IWC board members and friends.
The panel discussion, which was live streamed on Facebook (available for viewing on IWC’s Facebook page) highlighted U*U women’s work for global women’s empowerment, challenges, and accomplishments; it also explored ways of engagement and further action. U*U women leaders Gizella Nagy from Romania, Elgiva Shullai from India, and Rev. Sienes from the Philippines talked about their ongoing efforts to advance gender equality, highlighting the need to expand education about women’s rights, build women’s capacity and self-esteem, and provide opportunities to change the status quo. One of the most difficult challenges they are confronted with is changing patriarchal mindsets and norms: such attitudes and values are so ingrained in the cultures of the three panelists, that even women end up embracing the very beliefs that disrespect them, endanger their lives, or diminish their worth. All agreed that men and boys need to be part of the solution as allies in the cause of gender equality.
After the signing ceremony, Ms. Nagy presented 850 USD to Rev. Sienes, representing the collection from Unitarian churches in Transylvania in honor of International Women’s Day 2018, for the benefit of UU women in the Philippines. UNOSZ has engaged in IWC’s International Women’s Day initiative for the last 4 years, with the plate collections each year being directed to women’s empowerment projects led by U*U women and organizations.
The formal agreement of collaboration signed between IWC and the Women’s Association of the UUCP lays the foundation for a productive exchange, helping to develop a long and fruitful partnership builds on sharing resources, expanding cooperation, and working together on projects for women’s equality, development, social justice, security, and peace.