From the Worldwide Faith News archives


Date 05 May 1996 08:07:02


                         By Julian Shipp 
LOUISVILLE, Ky.--The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Churchwide Ecumenical 
Decade Committee has determined that the denomination's primary focus for 
the second half of the World Council of Churches (WCC) "Ecumenical Decade: 
Churches in Solidarity with Women" will center on violence against women. 
     The committee defines such violence as attitudes and actions that 
demean or dehumanize women psychologically, physically, economically, 
spiritually, racially and sexually, among other ways.     
     "Globally, the World Council of Churches encouraged all its member 
denominations to do a mid-decade evaluation (conducted in 1993), which was 
reported all around the globe," said the Rev. Susan Craig, associate 
director for women's ministries in the National Ministries Division. "And 
all the reports kept violence against women really high [as a needed 
     Statistics compiled by the Presbyterian United Nations Office in New 
York indicate much work remains nationally and worldwide in addressing 
violence against women.  The findings show: 
     *In Africa, more than 80 million women have endured sexual mutilation 
through the process of female circumcision. 
     *In the United States, 4,000 women are beaten to death each year by 
their partners. 
     *Worldwide, more than 80 percent of refugees are women and children. 
     *Each year, worldwide, at least 500,000 women die from complications 
due to pregnancy and another 100,000 as a result of unsafe abortions. 
      The committee, which met Feb. 23-27 in Santa Fe, New Mexico, was 
co-moderated by two Presbyterian elders: Alice Nishi from Davis, Calif., 
and Manley Olson from St. Paul, Minn.  The 1988 General Assembly elected 
the committee to spearhead Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) participation in 
the WCC program.    
     The group's agenda included planning consultations and activities for 
the second half of the decade and meetings with area Presbyterian and 
interfaith groups for listening to and sharing concerns violence against 
     Nishi said the committee's future efforts will include theological 
studies from the perspectives of women here and abroad.  She said resources 
to help men counter violent behavior toward women and other men are also 
being developed. 
     "We want the church to be involved since the definition of  violence' 
is so broad," Nishi said. "It's not a situation of women for women, but 
it's the church in solidarity with women. And that includes men as well."  
     The United Nations is now in its third Decade for Women with its 
Fourth World Conference on Women to be held next September in Beijing. The 
third conference, held in 1985 in Nairobi, concluded that women globally 
were less well off than they were at the time of the first conference in 
     After the U.N. called for its third Decade for Women, the WCC 
established its own Decade to call Christian churches to accountability 
with regard to women's global issues. 
     The WCC's Decade, which began in 1988, ends in 1998. Following the 
close of the decade, a follow-up meeting is planned in Zimbabwe.  

For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
  Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
  phone 502-569-5504            fax 502-569-8073  
  E-mail   Web page: 


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