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Women's History Month
March 2010

Resources to celebrate Women's History Month
... and beyond

This year, 2010, marks the 15 year anniversary of the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China, where the Beijing Platform for Action was put in place and then First Lady Hilary Clinton proclaimed, “Women’s rights are human rights!”  The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, March 1-12 this year, will focus on reviewing the Platform and where we have come since then.   

As governments and NGO’s are reviewing progress since the 1995 Conference, Women’s Ministries at the National Council of Churches remembers a few special resources also created in the 1990’s.  The years from 1988 to 1998 marked “The Ecumenical Decade of the Churches in Solidarity with Women,” during which many churches and denominations found ways to honor and celebrate women’s contributions, lift women’s voices, and pay special attention to women’s issues. 

During March, Women’s History Month (through May) we are offering several of the resources created during “The Ecumenical Decade” for deeply discounted prices!  There are resources for children, youth, and liturgy, and essays on the state of women in the church.  These are good additions to your library.  Read descriptions of the complete listing and view the order form here.


Preserving the enduring wisdom of women of faith

Each March we pause to honor the women of faith who have made an indelible mark on our families, communities and congregations. This month we'll be paying particular attention to 20 special women whose contributions made  ̶  and are continuing to make  ̶  a powerful impact on our lives and faith. Return to this Web page each day in March to see their pictures and read their insights. The "Circles of Names" campaign to support women's ministries and gender justice programs in NCC member communions has been extended through March Women's History Month. The campaign gives donors opportunities to support ongoing and future work by honoring women who have made a difference. Participants may submit the name of a woman who is or has been influential in their faith life. More.

See the women who are being highlighted here.

Tell the White House to Make Aid Work!

Over a billion people worldwide live in extreme poverty, struggling to survive on around $1 a day or less. The majority - 829 million - are women. This is a problem that affects all of humanity - when women are poor, entire communities suffer because they are not free to earn an income, feed their families, or protect themselves and their children from violence.

U.S. international assistance has the potential to be a major force for good - in fact, when done right, it has eradicated entire diseases, alleviated poverty, and sent countless girls to school. The problem? Our foreign assistance system is outdated and designed in a way that prevents us from reaching these achievable goals. This is bad news for women struggling to escape poverty: they cannot benefit from resources that would dramatically change their families' lives.

Right now, President Obama and his senior advisors are debating the future of U.S. efforts to alleviate poverty, fight disease, and create economic opportunity for the world’s poorest people.

National Security Advisor James Jones and National Economic Council Director Lawrence Summers are urgently preparing recommendations for how the whole U.S. government should do development in the 21st century. Their recommendations could determine the future of U.S. foreign assistance.

Women Thrive Worldwide is partnering with the ONE Campaign, Bread for the World, Publish What You Fund, Save the Children, RESULTS, Mercy Corps, American Jewish World Service, Oxfam, CARE and the entire development community to create the first ever petition asking the White House to make a strong statement about America’s commitment to development.  We need 150,000 signatures to deliver to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue by December 16. Please help us reach our goal.

Sign the petition here.

Top Stories: Screening 'A Walk to Beautiful';
Applications open for leadership experience

The National Council of Churches Women's Ministries is announcing two major opportunities: the screening of the Emmy award winning film, "A Walk to Beautiful," and the opening of applications for a leadership experience for young women at the United Nations.

Three screenings of “A Walk to Beautiful” will take place this fall. Two screenings will be in Minneapolis at the General Assembly of the NCC and Church World Service, and the third will take place in New York at the Interchurch Center. All screenings will be followed by discussions with the filmmakers from Engel Entertainment, and are free and open to the public.  (More)

The leadership experience, conducted annually, provides an opportunity for women 18 to 30 years of age to be involved in the ecumenical movement through women’s issues at the United Nations. We are currently seeking applications for the Young Women’s Leadership Experience to be held February 26 to March 3 in conjunction with the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at the United Nations. (More)

October is
Domestic Violence Awareness Month

By Meagan Manas

What is your church or community doing to raise awareness of domestic violence and provide training in prevention?  October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and our

member communions and partner organizations have some great new resources.  Statistics on Domestic Violence show that no congregation or community is immune—consider using one of the following new resources to spread healing. 

The United Methodist Church has created a series of five pamphlets on domestic violence that explore often ignored impacts, impressing upon us that domestic violence is not simply a women’s issue.  The topics of the pamphlets are: Adolescent Bullying, Gender Violence, Domestic Violence as a Community Concern, Elder Abuse, and Child Abuse.  The pamphlets are downloadable here. Click on the “issues” drop-down box and go to “domestic violence.”  Print to 11x17 paper for best results. 

The Faith Trust Institute has a wealth of resources on faith communities and domestic violence available on their website.  This year they are focusing on Religion, Domestic Violence, and Women of Color.

If it’s too late to plan October programs for your church or community, consider participating in The Center for Women’s Global Leadership’s “16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence Campaign.” With the 2009 theme Commit, Act, Demand: We CAN End Violence Against Women!, the 16 days program provides resources for education and planning your own events and action from November 25 to December 10.  The founders of 16 Days “chose the dates, November 25, International Day Against Violence Against Women and December 10, International Human Rights Day, in order to symbolically link violence against women and human rights and to emphasize that such violence is a violation of human rights. This 16-day period also highlights other significant dates including November 29, International Women Human Rights Defenders Day, December 1, World AIDS Day, and December 6, which marks the Anniversary of the Montreal Massacre.” 

There are currently a wealth of programs and resources available to help faith communities confront the problems of domestic violence.  The ELCA has collected more of them on their resources page, in the “Violence Against Women” section. 

The National Council of Churches and its 35 Member Communions believe that God does not support domestic violence.  As we highlighted in our 1990 Policy Statement on Family Violence and Abuse,

Jesus’ teaching that judgment awaits those who cause or allow harm to children, his concern for women and other victims of violence, and the Hebraic hospitality code which required the protection of those most vulnerable, make clear the mandate of the Christian teaching: persons, be they adults or children, are not to be harmed but are to be protected by the whole community, even from the suffering of family violence.

May all of our communities of faith be communities free of violence. 

If you are suffering domestic violence, or know someone who is, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1.800.799.SAFE (7233) 1.800.787.3224 (TTY).  The Hotline can also refer you to local domestic violence resources in all 50 states.

Women's Ministries announces pilot
fistula program for young women

By Meagan Manas

New York, September 15, 2009 -- The New York Times Magazine recently announced that women’s issues are the cause of our time.  Women’s Ministries at the National Council of Churches agrees, and is excited to announce a pilot program for young women exploring the connections between faith and action, through the lens of obstetric fistula, a birth injury affecting more than 2 million women worldwide. 

Sponsored by the UN Foundation, this project seeks to bring faith communities into the campaign to end fistula in this generation by connecting the issue to the New Testament story of the woman with a hemorrhage who is healed by touching Jesus’ cloak. 

The curriculum has four 90-minute sessions, and encourages the group to take some sort of action at the end of the study to continue to raise awareness and funds. 

The first session covers information about what obstetric fistula is, explored through the stories of women who are survivors. 

The next session explores the connections to our faith through Mark 5:21-43. 

The third session pushes the group to examine their role, as women living in America, in the global movement for women’s rights, and the fourth encourages the group to see their strengths and skills and brainstorm ways to use those in the campaign to end fistula in this generation. 

The curriculum is geared towards young women (18-30) and is intimately linked to interactive features on our website, .  Our blog can be accessed there, featuring stories of folks affected by and advocating for and end to fistula, and the curriculum is available for download, along with other resources and action tools.  Suggested group size for the curriculum is 5 to 12 women.  We are asking all participants in this pilot program to complete evaluation forms by December 1, 2009 to help us improve the program. 

Please let Meagan Manas at the NCC know ASAP if you would like to participate in this pilot program.  We’d be so thankful for your help, and truly feel this would be an amazing learning opportunity for young women.  Contact Meagan at or 212-870-2516 no later than September 18, if you would like to participate.

"Beijing Interviews Project" Announced 

In 1995, over 30,000 women from around the world gathered in Beijing China around the Fourth World Conference on Women.  While relatively few attended the more “official” UN proceedings, all were able to participate in the NGO Forum in nearby Huairou.  There had never been a gathering like this before.  Women from different corners of the globe shared their stories and found they might be more connected than they had previously thought.   

Out of the Beijing Conference came the officially sanctioned “Beijing Platform for Action.”  This Platform (BPFA) contained twelve focus-areas dealing with different aspects of women’s lives.  These focus areas—women and poverty, education and training of women, women and health, violence against women, women and armed conflict, women and the economy, women in power and decision-making, institutional mechanisms for the advancement of women, human rights of women, women and the media, women and the environment, the girl-child—have been the focus of the United Nations annual Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) since 1995 as governments and NGO’s continue to explore and challenge the ways in which women are systematically oppressed in our world.   

The next UNCSW, in 2010, will mark 15 years since this historic meeting.  This is the time to reflect on Beijing, to tell stories to those who were not involved in the global movement 15 years ago, to push our governments and organizations to continue to work for the full equality of women.  One way we plan to do this is through a series of Beijing Interviews.  If you are someone who attended the Beijing conference, we would love to hear from you! 

Download the information sheet here for more instructions. 

For more information on the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, see:

For more information on the UN Commission on the Status of Women, see:

More stories on 2009 Women's History Month

Ecumenical Conference on Human Trafficking
Read the report here.

Human Trafficking Awareness Conference
See the news story here.

Women's Creed:

We believe in God who creates women and men as partners in God's image.

To work together in Harmony, respecting and honoring each other.

We believe that we are co-workers with God in creating and preserving life.

We believe in God who took human form to redeem us from fear and prejudice, anger and hatred, greed and selfishness.

We believe in Jesus, who empowered women and outcasts and gives them new life.

We believe in the Spirit, active in our world,
who encourages and nurtures, strengthens and restores us.

We believe in the Spirit who quickens us to be involved in the work of the Kingdom (Reign of God).

From Women's Litany for a Worship Service of Lamentation and Hope. Go here to read the complete liturgy.