Dear Members and Friends,
It has been both an honor and a pleasure to serve as president of IWC and to continue building on the progressive work of my predecessors. On IWC’s 10th anniversary, I am proud of the last two years’ achievements toward our mission to empower women and girls worldwide. Our dedicated network of individuals and organizations representing Unitarian * Universalists and women and men of progressive faith continue taking direct action to improve women and girls’ lives. The following are just a few of the highlights of the past two years.
IWC and the UU Women’s Federation adopted a joint statement in response to Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018. As a follow-up, IWC offered a workshop at UUA General Assembly in Kansas City titled “Me Too: Called to Challenge Systemic Patriarchy,” which tackled gender-based violence in UU congregations and communities.
The Hungarian Church celebrated 450 years of religious freedom in 2018. In honor of the 450th anniversary of the Edict of Torda, IWC collaborated with UNOSZ, the Unitarian Women’s Association of Romania, to launch an international book of prayers and meditations. U*U women from all corners of the globe contributed to this special publication. It was an honor to have one of my prayers included.
IWC had a busy spring 2019, which included participation in the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women meetings in March and the UU-UNO Intergenerational Seminar on Gender Equity in April. At the Intergenerational Seminar, board members from India (Elgiva Shullai) and Philippines (Rev. Elvira Sienes), and a former board member from Romania (Gizella Nagy) took part in a workshop conversation on gender equity in a global context, and IWC executive director Zsófia Sztranyiczki gave participants fascinating insights on how gender is constructed in various languages.
At the conclusion of the seminar, IWC organized its own event on global women’s empowerment, followed by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Women’s Association of the UU Church of the Philippines, formalizing our ongoing collaboration.
In July 2019, IWC was granted special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, the highest status bestowed upon NGOs by the UN. The new designation raises the importance of our advocacy work, allowing us to influence decision-makers at the highest international level by delivering statements, participating in negotiations, and holding side events at the UN Commission on the Status of Women.
Under ordinary circumstances, meeting online is nothing new for our international organization; however, the COVID-19 pandemic has made us acutely aware of just how important connecting virtually is. On March 31, 2020 we started a weekly online gathering for U*U women worldwide, providing connection and comfort during times of uncertainty and isolation. One of these virtual gatherings focused on a special Mother’s Day celebration, involving U*U women leaders from around the world.
As the COVID-19 crisis is exacerbating gender inequalities around the world, IWC is responding with advocacy and awareness campaigns as well as concrete actions. Check out this newsletter to see how IWC is making a difference.
My term as President ends, but my commitment to and support of IWC continues.
Rev. Addae A. Kraba, President