Rev. Joyce Kariuki Share Insights into CSW 54, Kenya, the Church and Her Faith
Excerpt from Anastassia Zinke's interview with Rev. Joyce Kariuki, Acting General Secretary of the Anglican Councils of Africa.
Was this your first time attending the Conference on the Status of Women (CSW)?
I have been here several times before. The last one I attended was the CSW focused on the Girl Child. I think this is the fourth time that I have attended a CSW. This year I was requested by the archbishop to come. They send someone yearly, but some years for personal reasons I have been unable to serve as the delegate.
What have you learned or taken away from this year’s CSW?
We cannot let the Beijing Platform for Action to be eclipsed by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), or be dropped as a tool in addressing women’s rights. We are far from achieving our goal. It is a struggle to keep this movement going, to achieve the empowerment of women. The Beijing Platform is useful to us though, because it reminds us and equips us to keep this struggle going. It helps articulate women’s issues. We can refer to it and make sure – through the use of the right language – that others understand.
What are the pressing issues that you see in Kenya? In the church?
Also, gender equity in the church needs to be addressed. We are far behind the governments in terms of gender equity. This will not do. The church ought to be the model for society. We also have to acknowledge the huge reach that we have. We reach everyone: girls, women, men, and boys. We have the ability to ensure that the message is being heard.
This can be complicated however. There is a debate that the girl-child has been promoted so much that the boy-child has been left behind. So now I include the boy-child, so that it is about holistic participation in change. However, we have not forgotten that that the child-girl has been in a difficult situation. We all have become involved, and help them become and stay students.
Another significant issue is domestic violence against women. When there is violence, a woman is reduced to nothing. We need to change this. The church has not been able to address this yet. During this conference, however, I heard a South African man talk about his work of leading men to address violence against women. Men themselves condemning the violence. They see that it is their issue. This is powerful and a model that I would like to see adopted in Kenya, so that men don’t push the issue aside.
In Kenya, we are changing the constitution. This presents a great possibility for women. We need to finish this process. Though we can critique the government, we cannot let this opportunity pass. We must recognize that we all function under the government, so we need to partner with the government to get the constitution to its the best stage.