President’s Column: Pathways to Change

Arlene Johnson, President, International Women's Convocation

Arlene Johnson

By Arlene Johnson

I would be remiss if I did not call out the most exciting news from my home country of Ireland last week.  With a large voter turn-out – fueled by shifting attitudes on the legalization of abortion, along with the declining influence of the Catholic Church exacerbated by sexual abuse scandals – the Irish people spoke loudly and clearly that women have the right to make their own decisions without church or government interference.

We are pleased to announce that our IWC Board has completed a new strategic plan. The plan is the outcome of a year-long process undertaken by the international board via online conference calls, under the skilled leadership of IWC board member Kathy Burek. We greatly appreciate the hard work and effort that all involved have put into this critical strategic planning process. Please read the summary of the plan on page 2.

Two board members (Phyllis Marsh, Treasurer and Rev. Carol Huston, Vice-President) and I had an excellent meeting in late March with UUA President Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray in Boston.  Our Executive Director, Zsófia Sztranyiczki participated by phone. This was an opportunity to share with President Frederick-Gray our new strategic plan as well as explore ways we can enhance our collaboration with the UUA.

Plans are underway for a planning meeting in September with the UU Women’s Federation, UU Women and Religion, and representatives of other UU organizations in the U.S. that focus on issues of concern to women. The meeting, prompted by input from women in the U.S. and other countries attending our Third International Convocation last year in California, is an opportunity to share experience, expertise, and insights as we unite our voices to strengthen collaboration and lay out strategies for collective action.

Led by Rev. Carol Huston, some of our IWC members attended the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women meetings in New York during the last two weeks of March and a brief report is included on page 11.

We are delighted to have received a $2,000 grant plus a Challenge Grant of $2,000 from the Fund for International Unitarian Universalism. It will help IWC assist women in the Khasi Hills, India expand their violence awareness program and lay the groundwork for a future OWL initiative.

If you are planning to attend the UUA General Assembly in June, we invite you to our Annual Breakfast on Saturday morning, June 23: come hear Dr. Rica Lamar from Meghalaya, India, member of IWC’s Global Sisters Leadership Council talk about combatting and preventing violence in the Khasi Hills. In addition, we are sponsoring a workshop on Saturday afternoon in collaboration with the UU Women’s Federation, looking at the impact of the #Me Too movement and ways in which U*U women confront bullying and abuse in systems of patriarchal authority. More information is listed on page 6.

With my three-year term as president finishing at the end of June, I want to thank all of you for the privilege and opportunity to serve in this capacity. It has been a growth-filled and amazing journey!  The IWC board is delighted to announce that Rev. Addae Kraba has agreed to serve as our next president along with two new board members, Karen Kortsch and Geri Kennedy (more information on page 4). Your continued support for our mission to empower women is greatly appreciated!

 

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