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CSW63 Reflection by Dana Jean

The Delegates' Corner: Preparing for a Marathon

Written by: Dana Jean (Diocese of Dallas (Province VII), The Episcopal Church)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely,[a] and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of[b] the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. — Hebrews 12:1-2

At the end of each day, our delegation representing Presiding Bishop Michael Curry would sit together to debrief.  We shared our experiences, where we witnessed God at work, what stuck out about the day, and we’d talk through our strategy for the next day.  In discussion the first day, a delegate astutely reflected, “It’s not a sprint to justice; it’s a marathon. I want to make it a sprint, but it’s not.”

Justice, like faith, simply does not follow a short, easy path.  Along the way, we will become frustrated with the slow pace of progress, and we will sense the urgency to accomplish the goals set forth in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, intended to ensure “equality, development, and peace for all women everywhere.”  We will see the shortcomings of our own government and governments around the world; we will see the failure of our communities to recognize the importance of those goals. 

As delegates, we immediately noticed a sense of urgency the Commission on the Status of Women and the NGO Committee on the Status of Women leadership have about the goals because next year is the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration.  We were told that at the pace we are going to accomplish equality around the world, we need another 217 years. We, in the Church, are also dissatisfied that we have not made more progress.

We want to make the journey a sprint.

Fighting for justice is a weighty burden to carry.  We hear stories of children forced to marry, women denied the right to travel without a man, girls refused an education, and we hear stories of governments rolling back protections long thought permanent in countries long believed to be free.  And we want to sprint. 

Beijing+25 (the 25th anniversary) is looming, and not one country has achieved full equality for women. Not one. And we want to sprint. Why?

Because social protection is not a handout; it is empowerment.

Because countries cannot advance when they hold back any individual.

Because where bias and discrimination exist, there can be no equality.

Because women’s rights are human rights, and they are not bargaining chips.

Yet, we remember this is a marathon; otherwise, these goals would have been achieved long ago.  And so, as in any marathon, let us slow down long enough for a drink of water, remembering the Living Water our Lord offers us.  Let us sip on cool, healing water before we run on.

Lord, we know that the problem with advocacy is that we are already too late; your people’s rights have been violated.  But we also know you pioneered the way with bold, confident steps. Help us to more fully understand that our future will become the past of future women, that our steps pave their way, and that you hydrate us with Living Water that we might stay the course. Amen.

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