2009 Houston TX, USA
Approximately 600 women from 38 U.S. states and from 17 countries outside the U.S. attended the First International Convocation of U*U Women in Houston, TX. USA. The continents represented were Africa (Sudan, Zambia); Americas (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Nicaragua, and the U.S.); Asia (India, Japan, the Philippines); and Europe (Czech Republic, England, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, Romania, and Scotland). The Convocation raised $100,000 (exclusive of UU Funding grants) for women to attend. In addition, discounts were offered to ministers and youth.
Participants met four times during the event in Global Sisters Groups (GSG) led by facilitators who received training immediately prior to the Convocation. The Global Sisters Process is a group decision-making process modeled on community capacity building. The process brings interested parties together to talk in small, facilitated groups in order to build a shared understanding of issues impacting their lives, prioritize the issues identified, and set up action plans to address them.
The GSG identified the following three focus areas: education; health care including reproductive justice; and preventing violence against women and children. Two key concepts, empowering women in decision-making, and reducing poverty were viewed as overriding and are to be considered important priorities when putting theory into practice in each of the three focus areas.
Participant Gizella Nagy from Transylvania (Romania) said: “…The Convocation has started something revolutionary in the history of Unitarians and Universalists…The Convocation planners were courageous enough to start, and I am sure we the participants will have courage enough to continue the construction of this bridge for our faith and for the security for our children toward a better and more peaceful world.”
The Houston Convocation led to the establishment of the International Convocation of Unitarian Universalist Women as a non-profit organization, and it produced inspiration and funding for a successful micro-loan program in Uganda. It also gave the impetus for the Transylvanian women who attended to take the initiative of organizing the Second International U*U Women's Convocation in Transylvania.