Posted March 3, 2017
Three young women from Niagara are heading to New York for a week in March to take part in the activities associated with the annual session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. Alicia Armstrong, Ceilidh Gibson and Sierra Robertson-Roper, all actively involved in youth ministry in the diocese, will join a group from the Diocese of New Westminster to take part in panels, discussions, presentations, receptions, and services paralleling the Commission’s formal program.
For Ceilidh Gibson, her participation is a natural extension of what she describes as her social justice journey which began when she first attended a diocesan youth ministry event. “Throughout my four years at youth synod, I have learned about many social justice issues, from local to worldwide...I want to educate myself as much as possible about these issues so that I can do everything I can in my local community to help with them."
The young women will be joined by thousands of representatives of Member States, UN entities, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from around the world, including the Reverend Laura Marie Piotrowicz, rector of St. John’s Port Dalhousie, who will be attending as the Anglican Church of Canada’s official delegate. The Reverend Canon Jean Archbell, rector of St. James Dundas and diocesan ecumenical officer will also be attending.
This year’s priority theme for the Commission focuses on women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work. "In the Old Testament there are so many examples of empowered women who challenge the standards of their society and advocate for change,” said Alicia Armstrong. She hopes that in looking back, wisdom and learning from past role models can be drawn upon to “make connections with modern day women.”
The UN Working Group on Girls holds an orientation and a youth forum to ensure that young people make the most of their time in New York. Young delegates from different countries and youth organizations take part in crafting their own statement related to the year's theme.
Equipping women to applying lessons and insights learned to the local context is a key part of the event’s goal. To that end, Sierra Robertson-Roper hopes to explore the “inter-connectedness” of her faith and politics, and leave with a better sense about how to integrate these two aspects of her life at home.
Anglican women from more than 20 countries across the Communion will meet together to build relationship and network. The Canadian Anglican delegation has had a strong presence in recent years; past attendees from Niagara have included Canon Sharyn Hall and Susan Bird.
Keen to grow and challenge through this experience, Alicia, Ceilidh and Sierra also ask for prayers as they commit themselves to the work of gender justice.