Pan-African women commit to ending hunger and poverty

By agency reporter
June 17, 2016

Pan-African women of faith from Africa and the African diaspora have in a spiritual pilgrimage deliberated on issues affecting women’s empowerment and the importance of lifting their voices and votes to end hunger and poverty.

The 9 to 12 June 2016 consultation in Washington DC was a first for the recently-launched Pan-African Women’s Ecumenical Empowerment Network (PAWEEN), sponsored by the Ecumenical Theological Education Programme of the World Council of Churches (WCC).

The ecumenical and intergenerational consultation was convened by Bread for the World, the WCC and the Office of the Dean of the Chapel of Howard University in Washington DC.

At the opening prayer service, Bishop Teresa Snorton of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church and honorary consultation co-chair, noted the importance of faithful acts of kindness and considerateness for those in need, especially from the experience of Pan-African women.

She emphasised that “God picks up the leftovers, the broken pieces and turns them into something we cannot imagine, because God wastes nothing.”

The consultation was based at Howard University with offsite events on Capitol Hill, the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, and historical sites of spiritual pilgrimage.

It reflected the history and experiences of people of African descent, culminating in a day of deliberations and actions, ending on 12 June with two key messages on women’s efforts to end hunger and poverty.

The first is that globally, women and girls are disproportionately affected by hunger, malnutrition, violence and conflict.

“Investments in a girl's education or a woman's capacity to improve her income benefits her family, her community, the economy and society as a whole,” was the second message.

Tim Scott, a Senator from South Carolina, shared with the women, how the presence of maternal role models significantly moulded his upbringing and his current societal engagement as an African American man.

“Powerful women can shape worldviews,” he said, underlining the role of faith communities as important partners in the struggle to overcome poverty.

In their message, the women said they are listening to and working in solidarity with women affected by hunger and poverty and that they must engage gender and cultural diplomacy to enact change. “We need to create ‘alternative economies’ to fund our efforts to live out our freedom. We have everything we need (not to get free) but be the free that we are,” the women said in their closing message.

They also noted, “We need to cultivate the spiritual gift of listening to the voice of God heard and seen in our midst.”

PAWEEN embraces the leadership of young people contributing to this intergenerational movement and learn from them while serving as guides and advisors alongside them.

“As Pan African women of faith, we must challenge and agitate oppressive institutional structures, and social and cultural norms that perpetuate discrimination and place barriers in front of women and girls,” they said.

*The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948, by the end of 2012 the WCC had 345 member churches representing more than 500 million Christians from Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other traditions in over 110 countries. The WCC works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church.

* World Council of Churches http://www.oikoumene.org/en

* Bread for the World http://www.bread.org/

[Ekk/4]

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