Wednesday, April 29, 2020

“Go and tell my brothers,” Women called to leadership

The Girls Global Summit, 2020, sponsored by Women's Global Connection. Shannon Sedgwick Davis, who authored To Stop a Warlord, My Story of Justice, Grace, and the Fight for Peace, a story of Uganda, encourages the peace builders of the future. Nicole Foy, WGC Interim Director who organized an excellent Girls Global Summit, moderated the conversation.  Read of GGS  participants making plans to present in connection with the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women, March 2021                                              

 “Go and tell my brothers” the Risen Christ said to Mary Magdalene. Pope Francis, right after Easter, noted that women were leaders in the pandemic and he compared them to the women in the gospel narratives. 

St. Catherine of Siena born in 1347 nursed the sick during the Bubonic plague, visited prisoners, and led people to recognize the disadvantaged in the streets as their brothers and sisters. “Again and again, Catherine spoke of truth. She longed for people to see and live in truth. The closer she came to God's loving heart, the more she felt called to speak truth boldly to both civil and church leaders, calling them to be shepherds who cared for their flocks, not rulers who made them suffer more.
Catherine wrote letters to the king of France, the Queen of Naples, to cardinals and to popes. Her love compelled her to question their duplicity. They often did not appreciate her frankness to seek first the good of the common people, not their own financial gain.  Catherine wrote the elders of Lucca, Italy, who were considering entering into war, ‘It doesn't seem to me that war is so lovely a thing that we should go running after it when we can prevent it’ (Letter 60; 191).” from   “The puppet and the saint seeking truth,” Global Sisters Report, Martha Ann Kirk, Oct 1, 2018.

Franciscan Media has a visual reflection on St. Catherine shared on her feast day, April 29. 

 Girls Global Summits have explored the question: What if girls were given the message early, through relational, hands-on leadership training and mentoring, that their ideas and skills have an essential place in our public sphere?
Today women have more opportunities than St. Catherine and are in many positions.  Looking for examples of true leadership in a crisis? From Iceland to Taiwan and from Germany to New Zealand, women are stepping up to show the world how to manage a messy patch for our human family. And in Finland, Iceland and Denmark, and this pandemic is revealing that women have what it takes when the heat rises in our Houses of State. Many will say these are small countries, or islands, or other exceptions. But Germany is large and leading, and the U.K. is an island with very different outcomes. These leaders are gifting us an attractive alternative way of wielding power. What are they teaching us?    
Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, stood up early and calmly told her countrymen that this was a serious bug that would infect up to 70% of the population. ‘It’s serious,’ she said, ‘take it seriously.’ She did, so they did too. Testing began right from the get-go. Germany jumped right over the phases of denial, anger and disingenuousness we’ve seen elsewhere.”  From What do countries with the best coronavirus responses have in common?  Women Leaders,” Avivah Wittenberg-Cox, Forbes, April 13, 2020.   
Girls Global Summit participants could stand for a picture in the middle of leaders, Frida Kahlo, Mexican artist; Malala Yousafzai, Pakistani Nobel Peace Prize winner; YOU; Greta Thurnberg, Swedish environmental; Michelle Obama, U.S. lawyer and former First Lady.

If we want climate policy that works, we need to listen to women, "Women are our very first environment. This is the traditional teaching of Indigenous women: that they carry, nurture, grow, and sustain life within their bodies. Women as life-givers understand intimately the relationship between body, environment, movement, and our place in the world. 'Women carry our clans and ... by carrying our clans, are the ones that hold that land for the next generation,' shares Iako’tsira:reh Amanda Lickers from Turtle Clan in Seneca in Violence on the Land, Violence on our Bodies. 
Today, a quarter of all economically active women are also involved in agriculture. In fact, in places like rural Kenya, where subsistence farming is the main vocation, women do more farming than men. Lenders have even confirmed that women are more responsible holders of property deeds and that microfinance works more effectively and provides more for the whole community when provided to women. Yet women still face severe inequalities in access to land and credit: Though women produce the majority of the world’s food, they own only less than 20 percent of the world’s titled land. . . . . . It is time to overturn the patriarchal model of production and extraction that has wreaked havoc on people and the planet since the industrial revolution. We must invest in and accelerate the healing work of women all over the world who have been leading on the front lines of climate change and environmental disaster for generations." Read more in the Sojourners article, "If We Want Climate Policy That Works, Listen to Women," by Melody Zhang. 

                San Antonio business and civic leader, Erica Prosper, one of the main speakers at the Girls Global Summit, stands by the Girls Bill of Rights created by the participants. Ms. Prosper is also the wife of Major Ron Nirenberg who attended the summit. 
This year is the 25th anniversary of the international women’s conference in Beijing. The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women notes the progress that has been made towards the goals set in 1995, but also the areas where the global family is hurting itself by not giving girls equal educational opportunity, by not allowing women equal social, economic, and political opportunities. The U.N. Sustainable Development Goals lay out ways to move forward. Goal 5 Gender Equality helps to educate and invite advocacy and action.  U.N. Security Council Resolution 1325 emphasizes women's importance in conflict prevention, resolution, and peacebuilding.  The U.N. Generation Equality: Realizing women's rights for an equal future has many resources.  Since the U.N. face to face 2020 women's conference was canceled in light of the pandemic, extensive virtual sessions can be found online. 

The Girls Global Summit interns who spend many months mentoring the younger girls in their research projects. The event focused on the U.N. Sustainable Development goals and led to the girls creating a "WGC Global Girls Bill of Rights." 
A study by Women, Levers of Change, indicated that industries which have more women in leadership are 47% more profitable than industries that do not.  “Representing half of the global labor force and half of new graduates with higher education each year, women are a major—but often overlooked or neglected—source of talent. Increasing women’s participation could not only enhance companies’ human resources, but also boost their innovation and organizational performance.” 

After the death of Jesus, women were afraid, but repeatedly Christ in the gospel narratives calls them to speak and to act.  Women today are called to share their gifts courageously.   

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