Episcopal Divinity School set to host first New England Beijing Circles Conference

July 28, 2008

Episcopal Divinity School (EDS) will serve as host of the first New England Beijing Circles Conference sponsored by the Episcopal Church. Scheduled for September 26 and 27, this conference will explore ways women around the world can work together to address issues of poverty, education, health, and gender equality faced by their global sisters.

The Beijing Circles Conference is intended to inform and teach participants about the Beijing Circles Movement. The movement began in 2005 when, at the annual United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) meeting in New York, an assessment was done to determine if progress was being made toward resolving twelve critical areas of concern regarding the status of women – areas identified in 1995 at the Fourth World Conference on Women, sponsored by the United Nations and held in Beijing, China. The areas identified ranged from the increasing burden of poverty on women, violence against women, stereotyping and gender inequalities, and lack of respect for the human rights of women. The 12 areas were then adopted into the Beijing Platform for Action. While the UNCSW noted some progress in 2005, it was clear that there was still a long way to go.

These events inspired a small group of women from the Episcopal Church to dedicate themselves to finding a way to stay focused on addressing these issues. They began inviting their U. S. sisters to gather with the sole purpose of educating themselves and others about the Beijing Platform for Action. They called their gathering a Beijing Circle, and from that and their subsequent commitment, the Beijing Circles were born.

Beijing Circles are now being formed across the U.S. by women who want to learn how they and other women around the world can work together to address issues of poverty, education, health, and gender inequality faced by women. The Circles provide opportunities to individually and collectively raise awareness of the possibility of change for all women. It seeks to empower women to pursue the implementation of positive outcomes by offering a variety of plans for action and advocacy. The conference at EDS will serve to show others how to begin their own Beijing circle while reflecting on the progress made by the movement thus far.

The fee for conference registrations is $25 and includes dinner on Friday and breakfast and lunch on Saturday.