[March 4, 2020] The 64th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW 64) meeting in New York City, originally scheduled for March 9 to March 20, has been amended by member states at the suggestion of the UN Secretary General and Chair of CSW64, in light of public health concerns related to the COVID-19 (the coronavirus).
On Monday, March 2, the Commission decided that the 64th session of the Commission will convene on March 9 at 10:00 am for a procedural meeting. The meeting will include opening statements, followed by the adoption of the draft Political Declaration and action on any other draft resolutions. The session will then suspend until further notification. No general debate will take place and all side events planned by Member States and the UN system in conjunction with CSW64 will be cancelled.
Representatives of member states and civil society not already in New York on March 2 who were planning to travel to New York have been urged by the UN to not attend. Members of the Presiding Bishop’s Episcopal Church delegation and the Anglican Communion delegation were informed of this change on March 2 and, out of concern for their health, urged to remain at home. Conversations continue regarding plans to bring the Presiding Bishop’s delegation and other Anglican and Episcopal participants together for the rescheduled UNCSW 64 meeting, and to continue the work of understanding the importance of the Beijing +25 planned celebration for women and girls, in the world and within our Church.
The planned UNCSW 64 Opening Eucharist is postponed, but the regular midday Eucharist is still scheduled for 12:10 pm in The Episcopal Church’s chapel at 815 Second Avenue. The Rt. Rev. Mary Glasspool, assistant bishop in the Episcopal Diocese of New York, will preach. Lynnaia Main, the Episcopal Church’s representative to the United Nations said, “The Eucharist will be a moment to gather in lament, solidarity, and hope, to honor those who were expected to be present but cannot come at this time, and to wait in hope until we can fully celebrate all that has been achieved for women and girls over the past 25 years under the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and to reflect on all that remains to be done.”
At this time, we call upon Episcopalians to join us in these activities that can be done now from home or in your local communities:
- Read the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which was passed by UN member states at the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995 and affirmed by The Episcopal Church. This is the foundational document for understanding and lifting up the human rights of women and girls and the reason for this year’s 25th anniversary celebration. Talk about Beijing within your local circles.
- On Thursday, March 5th, and every Thursday, join in the ecumenical #ThursdaysInBlack campaign to end gender-based violence. Take a picture of yourself (and perhaps a local group) dressed in black and post to social media using the #ThursdaysInBlack hashtag. Share with fellow Episcopalians by adding #EpiscopalCSW and #EpiscopalUN.
- On Friday, March 6th, follow UN Women’s celebrations for International Women’s Dayonline, educate yourselves on the status of women and girls via the resources on the link and celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8th in your local community.
- On Sunday, March 8th, International Women’s Day, add prayers for women and girls to the Prayers of the People in your parishes.
- On Monday, March 9th, watch the one-day UNCSW 64 procedural meeting that will take place at UN headquarters and will be livestreamed on webtv.un.org. Read the Political Declaration that is to be adopted on UN Women’s UNCSW 64 page.
- On Monday, March 9th, join Episcopalians in prayer at noon (in your local time zone) by praying the Beijing Noonday Prayer that was written for and prayed during the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing China in 1995. The prayer was co-written by Episcopalians and other people of faith and has been updated in anticipation of ongoing prayers during UNCSW 64. By praying this prayer at noon in each of our time zones, we pray not only for those who will be gathering on March 9th at the UNCSW 64 procedural meeting, and who were meant to be gathering, but we also join in a tradition born during the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995:
Beijing Noonday Prayer [updated for Beijing +25]
Dear God, Creator of the heavens and the earth, we pray for all who gathered in Beijing and for all those attending and supporting the sixty-fourth session of the Commission on the Status of Women Meeting. Bless them.
Help us to see one another through eyes enlightened by understanding and compassion.
Release us from prejudice so we can receive the stories of our sisters and brothers with respect and attention.
Open our ears to the cries of a suffering world and the healing melodies of peace.
Empower us to be instruments in bringing about Your justice, peace and equality everywhere.
An annual gathering of women and girls, men and boys from The Episcopal Church and throughout the Anglican Communion, UNCSW 64 represents for many over a year’s worth of intensive work and plans. Please pray for all those who are affected, the Presiding Bishop’s Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion delegations, speakers, organizers, UN officials, public health advisors and most especially for all those affected by the coronavirus around the world. The work to empower women and girls will continue.
Follow UNCSW 64 at #CSW64 (official UN hashtag), #Beijing25, #GenerationEquality, #EpiscopalUN (all things Episcopal Church and the UN) and #EpiscopalCSW
The Episcopal Church’s UNCSW webpage
The Episcopal Church and the United Nations
Anglican Communion Representation at the United Nations
Anglican Communion at the UN on Twitter: @AnglicanUN
The Episcopal Church