Response: November 2016 Issue

Empowering Women

United Methodist Women contributes and listens to global conversations on sustainable development at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.

Empowering Women
Corinne Arthur, conference secretary for the Greater New Jersey Conference United Methodist Women.

The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women meets annually to promote women's rights, document women's lives throughout the world and shape global standards for gender empowerment and gender equality. From March 14-24, 2016, the commission marked its 60th year. For many years United Methodist Women has participated in the commission with a global delegation and by hosting affiliated side events. The focus for CSW60 was women's empowerment and its link to sustainable development. New Sustainable Development Goals were approved by the U.N. in September 2015.

The 60th commission was my first time attending the event. I worried that this high-level, formal U.N. gathering would make it hard for ordinary participants like me to participate and learn — would I leave with concrete takeaways? The answer is yes. I was yet unaware of the impact of CSW side events and workshops, which are designed for both U.N. delegates and the general public.

Local member, global connection

In attendance was Corinne Arthur, conference secretary for the Greater New Jersey Conference United Methodist Women and member of Orange United Methodist Church in Orange, New Jersey.

Ms. Arthur was selected as a United Methodist Women delegate to CSW59 in 2015. She returned this year to attend workshops and side events, which had provided her insights she was able to incorporate into Purpose Driven Girls, her local United Methodist Women's project for underprivileged teenage girls.

Purpose Driven Girls begun nearly four years ago as a project to help equip and support low-income, at-risk teenage African-American girls. The program builds self-esteem and lifts teens up. Ms. Arthur spoke about some of the workshops she had attended at CSW60 and how she would share what she learned with the girls in her program.

On a community level, the Purpose Driven Girls program addresses at least four of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, specifically goals 1, 3, 4 and 5. The first goal, no poverty, is addressed by exposing teens to new opportunities that can help them end the cycle poverty. Participants are taught by their United Methodist Women mentors how to carry themselves, navigate the dating scene responsibly and ultimately maneuver in their world in a way that they can feel respected and respect others in return. These acquired skills address goal 3: promote good health and well-being, and goal 5: gender equality. (Visit www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment to learn more.)

Ms. Arthur noted that CSW60's workshops stressed that access to education would empower women all over the world, including here in the United States. Goal 4, which promotes inclusive and quality education, is addressed when the Orange United Methodist Women mentors push and support students in academic excellence. Orange United Methodist Church along with the United Methodist Women members runs an active afterschool homework assistance program open to all community students, and the young women are especially encouraged to attend.

Ms. Arthur understands the importance of teaching the young women in Purpose Driven Girls what is happening to young women around the world. At a workshop co-hosted by United Methodist Women and Days for Girls, Ms. Arthur learned how young women in some countries in Africa cannot go to school when they are menstruating because they lack the necessary menstruation products and face stigma. Providing solutions so that young women can attend school continuously during their cycle is something women in all communities should care about. Ms. Arthur said she would like the girls in her program to never take for granted their ability to attend school freely and uninterrupted.

Ms. Arthur explained that global women's issues and their ties to the Sustainable Development Goals is one way to raise awareness of women's global issues. She planned to share what she learned at CSW60 and encourage the young women to narrow down which issues to work on together. The young women in Purpose Driven Girls know their own struggle intimately, but understanding and partnering with other women in their work will help them know they are not alone. United Methodist Women members lift up as they are lifted up.

The 61st session of CSW will take place March 13-24, 2017, in New York City. Events hosted at United Methodist Women's Church Center for the United Nations — across the street from the U.N. — are open to all, especially United Methodist Women members. CSW is a chance to meet women from around the world, to share and learn and thus enhance your own communities and your great work as United Methodist Women members as you engage in service and advocacy, leadership development, spiritual growth and transformative education. There is so much to learn.


Anissa New-Walker is public relations and marketing consultant for United Methodist Women.

Posted or updated: 11/2/2016 11:00:00 PM
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