African women's hopes expressed for world churches' assembly

By staff writers
September 9, 2013

Women’s concerns for life, justice and peace need to be heard loud and clear at the World Council of Churches' (WCC) upcoming assembly, say African women.

The comments were made at the 90th anniversary of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA) Woman’s Guild, held recently in Kenya.

The PCEA Woman’s Guild conference addressed the theme “Look to Jesus and live” (Hebrews 12:2) from 29 August to 1 September 2013 at the Kabarak University, Nakuru, Kenya.

The gathering brought together 2,500 women participants from around the world.

Veronica Mushiri, organiser of the Woman’s Guild, wished “God’s blessings” upon the preparations for the WCC assembly, which will take place from 30 October to 8 November, including pre-assembly events on 28 to 29 October, in Busan, Republic of Korea. The assembly is based on the theme, “God of life, lead us to justice and peace”.

Mushiri expressed her hopes for a positive and influential presence of the PCEA Woman’s Guild movement at the WCC assembly, as the WCC has been an important partner to the churches in promoting women’s empowerment in the East Africa region.

The PCEA Woman’s Guild conference encouraged discussions on several issues including women’s sexual and reproductive health, HIV and AIDS, violence against women, drug abuse and alcoholism, the law of succession and the new Kenyan marriage bill. Male participants, including representatives of the men’s fellowship of the PCEA, also shared reflections on the theme.

Participants also discussed ways of addressing stigma and lack of mutuality in light of the current statistics of 52 per cent HIV infections happening in the nation’s heterosexual marriages, with women representing the majority of the infected. The discussion also pointed out that Kenyan statistics show a high number of abortions, especially among young women. This phenomenon helps in understanding the factors contributing towards the existing maternal death rates in Kenya.

The 90th anniversary included a ceremony honouring women who have made significant contributions to the PCEA and communities in East Africa.

WCC staff member the Rev Dr Nyambura Njoroge was honoured at the ceremony. Njoroge is coordinator for the WCC’s Ecumenical HIV and AIDS Initiative in Africa project, and was the first woman to be ordained to the ministry in the PCEA in 1982. She received a PhD in Christian ethics from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1992. Her thesis focused on Woman’s Guild’s work in resisting female genital mutilation.

Dr Fulata Mbano-Moyo, WCC programme executive for Women in Church and Society, who represented the WCC at the conference, received the award on behalf of Njoroge.

Website of the WCC 10th Assembly: http://wcc2013.info/en

WCC programme on Women in Church and Society: http://www.oikoumene.org/en/what-we-do/women-in-church-and-society

[Ekk/3]

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