FIRST INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S CONVOCATION

Opening Ceremony ICUUW 2009

Opening Ceremony

The International Convocation of Unitarian Universalist Women, ICUUW, is a nonprofit corporation whose purpose is to create a community of Unitarian Universalists and women of other progressive faiths dedicated through action to building global partnerships to enrich women’s lives.

ICUUW will focus on priorities set at the Convocation: access to education; health care, including reproductive justice; violence prevention; empowerment in decision-making; and the elimination of poverty.

To support this community, ICUUW will build the capacity of UU’s locally, nationally, and internationally to achieve the vision. ICUUW will:  Create platforms for communication to connect one another through, for example the online or internet community, National meetings, and International convocations; Create resource tools to help individuals and groups, including, without limitation, the following:  A database of model initiatives, both as a resource for lessons-learned and as entry points where women are encouraged to become part of a project, Documentation and other materials on the Community Capacity Building process, Technical assistance for model initiatives including micro finance and business development, and a methodology for measuring program success; and develop policies and processes to coordinate activities with major groups engaging UU women, including the UU Women’s Federation, the International Association of Liberal Religious Women, UU Women and Religion, and other organizations. Formation of this new nonprofit grew out of a gathering, the First International Convocation of Unitarian Universalist Women, which was held in Houston, TX from February 26 to March 1, 2009.

    • Create platforms for communication to connect one another through, for example:  the online or internet community, national meetings, and international convocations;
    • Create resource tools to help individuals and groups, including, without limitation, the following:
        • A database of model initiatives, both as a resource for lessons-learned and as entry points where women are encouraged to become part of a project,
        • Documentation and other materials on the Community Capacity Building process,
        • Technical assistance for model initiatives including micro finance and business development, and
        • A methodology for measuring program success; and
    • Develop policies and processes to coordinate activities with major groups engaging UU women, including the UU Women’s Federation, the International Association of Liberal Religious Women, UU Women and Religion, and other organizations.

Formation of a new nonprofit grew out of this gathering, the International Convocation of Unitarian Universalist Women.

Attendance:

Model Programs Panel 2009

Model Programs Panel

Approximately 600 women from 38 states and from 17 countries outside the US. Africa*: Sudan, Zambia; Americas: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Nicaragua; Asia: India, Japan, the Philippines; Europe: Czech Republic, England, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, Romania, Scotland.

*Africa: Six other women: one from Burundi, one from Congo, one from Nigeria and three from Kenya who had planned to participate were denied visas by the US embassies in those countries. A special plate collection at the Sunday service brought over $10,000, which the Convocation has committed to funding to benefit UU women and children in Africa in the action plan priority areas of the Convocation.

Speakers:

Rebecca Adamson, CEO of First Peoples Worldwide
Margot Adler, NPR Correspondent
Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards, Third Wave Feminists and authors of Manifesta
Cathy Cordes, Ex. Dir.
UU Partner Church Council
Alex Counts, CEO of Grameen Foundation
Gini Courter, Moderator of the UUA
emma’s revolution, Award-winning peace activist musicians
Dr. Caren Grown, Economist-In-Residence,
American University
Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman, First Unitarian Church of Dallas and Candidate for President of the UUA
Dr. Kalpana Kannabiran, Sociologist, NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad, India
Frances Moore Lappé, Author, Diet for a Small Planet
Kathy Matsui, President, Int’l Assn. of Liberal Religious Women, Japan
Carolyn McDade, singer and composer, “Spirit of Life”
Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt, 4th Universalist Church, NYC
Dr. Christine Nielsen, Co-Chair of UU Church of Annapolis Buhata Pinay Program (Do It Filipina!)
Dr. Creamlimon Nongbri, General Secretary of the North East India Education Society
Rev. Pap Maria, First Female District Dean, Transylvanian Unitarian Church
Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker, Theologian and President, Starr King School for the Ministry
Rev. Dr. Ann Peart, Unitarian College, Manchester, England
Rev. Meg Riley, Director, UUA Advocacy and Witness
Rev. Rebecca Sienes, President of the UU Church of the Philippines
Dr. Diana Strassmann, Professor, Rice University, Editor, International Journal of Feminist Economics
Dr. Sharon Welch, Provost, Meadville Lombard Theological School

50 other workshop presenters; 42 exhibitors

Sponsoring Organizations:

Saturday Evening ICUUW 2009

Saturday Evening

Australia and New Zealand Unitarian Universalist Association; Bay Area Unitarian Church (Houston); Buhata Pinay, Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis, MD; Continental Airlines; First Unitarian Universalist Church of Houston; Houston Greeters, Inc.; Indian Council of Unitarian Universalist Churches; International Association of Liberal Religious Women; International Council of Unitarian Universalists; Rice University, Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality; Small Planet Institute; Southwest Unitarian Universalist Women, Inc.; Unitarian Union of North East India; Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations; Unitarian Universalist Church of South Africa; Unitarian Universalist Church of the Philippines; Unitarian Universalist Church, Southold NY; Unitarian Universalist Partner Church Council; Unitarian Universalist Service Committee; Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office; Unitarian Universalist Women’s Federation; Unitarian Universalist Church of Transylvania (Romania); University of Houston Women’s Studies Program.

Funding:

The Convocation raised $100,000 (exclusive of UU Funding grants) for scholarships to international attendees and to over 50 attendees from the U.S. In addition discounts were offered to ministers and youth. The cost of the Convocation (excluding scholarships) was approximately $297,000, which was paid through registration fees of $350 ($299 for early registration). The Convocation netted approximately $10,000 (excluding funds raised at the Sunday collection). These proceeds will be used to advance the Convocation Action Plan.

Global Sisters Groups:

Global Sisters Group, ICUUW 2009

Global Sisters Group

All attendees were invited to meet four times during
the Convocation with 26 Global Sisters Groups led by facilitators who received training immediately prior to the Convocation. The purpose of these meetings was to go through an exercise in community capacity building in order to teach attendees this technique for use in their respective groups and congregations, and also to produce an action plan for the Convocation.

Convocation Action Plan:

The three most important issues facing women worldwide were: 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. This experience and appropriate follow up from the ICUUW and other organizations will result in expanded initiatives which improve women’s lives in local communities around the globe.

First Jefferson UU Women

First Jefferson UU Women

The Convocation was
never meant to be just the event itself, but an ongoing process of coming together and finding voice. Southwest UU Women, host of the Convocation, and the ICUUW Steering Committee committed to continuing the work of the Convocation action plan and to making accommodations for the long-term organizational structure for the Convocation. The Convocation received several grants from the UU Funding Panel, in preparing for the Convocation. The last of these grants was used to create an online database of model initiatives and an online social networking system for the over 600 Convocation participants. This network is open to anyone to join and the online database and network are seen as a primary tool for advancing the work of the Convocation action plan. New grant requests were submitted after the Convocation for assistance in continuing this work.

In Fall of 2009, the International Convocation of Unitarian Universalist Women was registered as a non-profit corporation in the State of Texas. It has received tax exempt certification from the IRS.

General Assembly: The Women’s Convocation has featured workshops at General Assemblies in 2009 and 2010. We also hold our annual meeting usually at breakfast on Saturday, (open to all). These events and others are posted on the website, publicized through our newsletter and broadcast through global email messages sent to our members.

Gizi Nagy from Transylvania (Romania) wrote: “…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.”

Convocation Program