Joyful Advocacy to End Gender Inequality

April 5, 2016
Erin Morey, Diocese of Pittsburgh

I am honored to have served as one of the Episcopal Church's delegates to United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in both 2015 and 2016. 2015 marked the 20th anniversary of the landmark Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, a global resolution and agenda intended to end gender inequality.  At this 2015 session, we celebrated as delegates from UN member states shared the accomplishments their countries had achieved toward gender equality.  We also recognized that nowhere in the world had the agenda been fully implemented, and that we had a great deal of work ahead of us.

I came into the delegation having worked on behalf of individuals - representing clients in the criminal justice system as a public defender, and working as an advocate for survivors of sexual and intimate partner violence.  Following CSW in 2015, I broadened the focus of my work toward transforming structures and systems.  I engaged in advocacy with my elected officials, urging them to consider the needs of their marginalized constituents when drafting policy.  I joined local community organizing efforts, and helped my congregation become members of our local congregational organizing network.  I became involved with local efforts to ratify CEDAW, the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, which has not yet been ratified by the federal government of the United States.

These experiences helped me return to the 60th session of CSW in 2016 with a renewed focus on equality.  I was thrilled to attend this session, as one of its themes was ending violence against women, an issue I am passionate about.  The experience of learning how women are working to end violence all around the world is not only inspiring, but is also a way to learn about best practices and cultural competency that can strengthen my own advocacy.  This session was also very exciting, because it was one of the first opportunities for a UN body to integrate the recently-adopted Sustainable Development Goals, targets set to help the human family enjoy its rights to a healthy and productive world, into its work.

My favorite part of serving as a delegate, though, has been sharing the experience with people from all over the world, especially my family from the Episcopal Church, the Anglican Communion, and our ecumenical partners in advocacy.  Joyfully working and praying with these strong, compassionate human rights advocates from all over the world is profoundly life-changing, and I am blessed to have walked this path with them. I know I will continue to nurture the connections we have made in order to amplify our common work.

This year, we were repeatedly reminded that the UN's goal was to leave no one behind, and that faith-based organizations had an important role to play in implementing this goal.  I know how my experience last year transformed my advocacy of behalf of all people.  I look forward with great excitement to the opportunities God will call me to this year as I carry this work forward.