Ninety three Anglican delegates representing 25 Provinces of the Anglican Communion joined more than 8300 women and a few men in New York City for the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW), March 1-12, 2010. They gathered to seek information, deeper theological perspective, and skills to advocate effectively on the objectives of the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action ( The International Anglican Women’s Network (IAWN) is historically the largest civil society group attending UNCSW hearings ( The Rev. Margaret Cornish, Rector, St. Alban, Richmond, and Dr. Andrea Mann, General Synod Partnerships staff, represented IAWN-Vancouver on the Canadian delegation.
In 1995, the 4th UN World Conference on Women in Beijing signaled a clear commitment by 189 UN member governments, including Canada, to achieving norms and standards of equality between men and women.   There were strong calls for action by government and other actors at international, regional, national and local levels, to especially focus on the urgent need to protect and promote the rights of women and the girl child. 
In the intervening 15 years, three official reviews have measured progress, particularly against the standards of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Millenium Development Goals ( Much has changed for the better, though much more remains unchanged or worse ( . Among the positive shifts worldwide has been the recognition that the promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment are central to efforts in combating poverty, hunger and disease, and in stimulating truly sustainable development and economy, locally and globally.  

In addition to official High Plenary country reports and Panel meetings, which IAWN-Canada delegates observed, many side events provided a range of issues in which to participate actively. IAWN-Canada co-hosted one such event on Violence and Indigenous Women, reported recently in the Anglican Journal ( . 

Each day began for Provincial and Christian delegates with worship at the Church Center for the UN, featuring the lives and stories of women of the Bible-Miriam, Deborah, Hagar, Mahlah, Hoglah, Abigail, Lydia, Junia, Martha- in prayer, text, reflection and song.

Sadly, effective civil society engagement with government representatives was often difficult, well beyond the logistics associated with ongoing renovations at UN Headquarters.   Women from around the world had come to the CSW in hopes of being heard, investing considerable time and resources to get there. Many experienced discouragement and a profound sense of disrespect. Despite challenges, a number of excellent resolutions from civil society groups were heard, including several from faith communities condemning the rise violence against women worldwide.

Margaret Cornish and Andrea Mann will speak about their experiences on Saturday May 8th, at an IAWN-Vancouver Quiet Day for women of the diocese, at St. Alban Anglican Church, Richmond. 
As on previous IAWN Quiet Days, women are invited to gather at 9:30am for coffee, followed by quiet reflection, lunch, topical discussion. The day concludes with worship by 4:00pm. Lunch is provided.
For more information contact: The Rev. Margaret Cornish, St. Alban, Richmond. 604 278-2770 ext. 2