From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
PRESBYTERIANS IN CHINA MULL THE NGO FORUM
05 May 1996 09:02:12
95310 PRESBYTERIANS IN CHINA MULL THE NGO FORUM
By Julian Shipp
HONG KONG--Preparing for the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Forum to
be held near Beijing, 35 participants in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
travel/study seminar to China gathered at Mandarin Church of Christ Aug. 30
to worship, build community, strategize and discuss administrative matters
related to the United Nations' Fourth World Conference on Women.
At the NGO Forum, nearly 40,000 women and men from around the world
have gathered to discuss their ongoing work related to global women's
concerns, celebrate women's achievements and examine strategies for working
together to realize the goals of equality, development and peace.
Although the NGO Forum is not a policy-making body, and the PC(USA)
group's visit to China is an educational seminar, not an official
delegation to the U.N. women's conference, Forum participants will examine
how to work with world governments to shape and implement policies
A member of the Church of Christ in China Hong Kong Council, which is
a partner church of the PC(USA), the Mandarin Church had its origin in
China as a Presbyterian church. With refugees from Hunan as charter
members, the congregation meets in a refurbished storefront apartment above
a clamorous street.
Leading worship, Hazel Fuhrmeister, moderator of Presbyterian Women
and a seminar participant from Southern New England Presbytery, reminded
the predominantly female audience that the upcoming weeks will be
challenging, but God and God's people will be there too.
"The next two weeks are going to bring some difficulties, but there
is no doubt that it will be worth it," Fuhrmeister said, encouraging the
group to keep love, patience, generosity and prayer in abundance during
their time together.
According to Melissa Gillis of the Presbyterian U.N. Office in New
York, the U.S. has supported language in the conference's Platform for
Action draft that invites governments to come to Beijing ready to state
specific national commitments for priority action. She said this was done
in order to help ensure that the words agreed upon come to life.
This, Gillis said, despite the fact there has been a lot of
controversy since early April over the word "gender" in the Platform for
Action by a handful of countries. She said this action took most countries
by surprise since the word has been used extensively throughout the U.N.
system for the past 20 years.
Interested nations met in May in order to resolve the issue. Rather
than attempt to define the word, they agreed to a chairperson's statement
reflecting their general understanding of the word, acknowledged that there
are no new meanings attached to the word, and agreed that "gender" would
continue to be understood as before in the U.N. system.
"The term gender' has been used at the U.N. since the early 1980s,"
Gillis said. "But there has been an evolution in that term over recent
years. As it stands now, the term gender' is still in the document, but it
does cause a distraction. It does keep other [conference issues] from
The Presbyterian group departed for Beijing on Aug. 31 and met with
women in the Chinese church prior to attending the NGO Forum.
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 PCUSA.NEWS@pcusa.org Web page: http://www.pcusa.org
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