Side by Side at the 20th anniversary of the Ecumenical Decade of Churches in Solidarity with Women, WCC

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2018 marks the 20th anniversary of the Ecumenical Decade of Churches in Solidarity with Women 1988-1998. From 1-6 October this year the World Council of Churches gathered in Kingston, Jamaica with the theme “Walking Together Serving Justice and Peace” to commemorate the anniversary and renew their commitment to fighting gender injustice. The conference was hosted by Jamaica Council of Churches, and there were 73 participants from 45 member churches.

Dr. Agnes Aboum, moderator of the WCC Central Committee, opened the conference with reminding us of where we have been, and keeping in mind where we are going: “Therefore, as we reflect back on what was raised twenty, thirty years ago, let us also ask ourselves – what will our children and grandchildren say of us here, twenty or thirty years from now?” The general secretary of WCC, Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit also highlighted that it is a process, and it is still on-going. That this is a time to come together to reflect over the achievements, but also to keep working on the issues surrounding gender justice. He especially pointed out the problem that is Gender-Based Violence.

During the conference there were several events, discussions and presentations. On Thursday 4 October there was a public event to mark “Thursdays in Black.” Gathering at Half Way Tree in Kingston the commitment to the campaign was renewed and expanded. Most of the participants wore black and the fight towards a world without rape and violence was made visible in Nelson Mandela Park.

The Decade of Churches in Solidarity with women recognised that nothing will be done for gender justice if it is not explicitly worded out. Although the Decade is over the attention to gender issues are still very much in the forefront of the work going on, and twenty years later it is still important to keep the focus going. Also, young people, who do not remember the Decade, are determined to carry out its legacy, which highlights the point of it still being relevant. But the discussions also brought light to the fact that there are still disagreements and different perspectives between the churches, in particular to gender and sexual violence, and that is a challenge that needs to be taken into consideration in the work.

The outcome from the conference is narrowed down to eight strategies that will be the focus on gender justice for the next years. These strategies include creating policies, empowering local organisations and groups, develop action networks and supporting boys and men’s organisations in resisting patriarchy and toxic and violent masculinities. The hands-on strategies will help further the gender justice agenda and continue to keep the attention on the issues.

Side by Side was represented at this conference by our Co-Chair, Clare Morgan, Steering Group Member, Joanna Lilja, and Side by Side Scotland Member, Fiona Buchanan.

Written by Ane Lemvik, Side by Side Intern

Posted by: Side by Side | Monday, December 3rd, 2018
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