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Message from the Women’s Forum1

Dear Sisters and Brothers at the CCA General Assembly:

We, the participants of the Women’s Forum, greet you in peace! We acknowledge that this pre-assembly gathering of women is a concrete evidence that CCA has taken significant steps to support the women’s struggle for the fullness of life. This ecumenical space is important to us. In this gathering, we have learned to embrace our differences even as we shared our common experiences and dreams as Asian women. We treasure our friendship and solidarity with each other and affirm that we can build communities of peace together.

Asia is rich in resources and diverse in religious traditions. Yet, Asia is also a place where one meets the ugly face of imposed poverty and violence. The impact of globalization is encompassing and devastating especially to women’s and children’s lives. The greed for power to dominate has caused so much destruction in the cultural, social, economic and political life of the people. This domination of the land, bodies and minds make people think and behave in a uniform, homogenized way in order to effect supremacy not only over Asia, but over the whole world. We call this renewed drive for economic, political, cultural and military control by the lone superpower as empire-building

Building Communities of Peace in the Midst of Suffering

Women in Asia struggle against the day-to-day hardships as we stand at the crossroads of different forms of violence and discrimination, namely: sexism, heterosexism, race, class, caste, religious violence and ethnocentrism. We deplore the complicity of the church in inflicting violence to the vulnerable and those it deems as “the other” by using the Bible, religious and theological traditions to legitimize such cruelties. We deeply understand that women’s experience of violence is profoundly connected with the degradation of the Earth. One has to have a deep sense of justice to be able to see the forces that cause the extreme poverty and suffering of the vast majority of Asian people, especially women and children.

We believe that it is not God’s will for women and children to suffer any form of violence. We are created in God’s image; therefore we claim our place as equal partners with men in the task of building communities of peace. We have the potential and gifts to offer to the church to promote justice, peace and to make community life flourish in its fullness. We are endowed with God’s gift of dignity and human rights to experience the fullness of life (John 10:10) and to be the salt of the earth (Mark 19:50b). Women are able to experience the abundant life that Jesus the Christ has spoken of, only when we commit ourselves to choose life rather than death (Deut. 30:19). This demands that we continue to resist the evils that denigrate life, and to affirm our potential to build communities where justice, love and peace flourish. We condemn all forms of violence inflicted on women and children as sin.

Even as we nurse our own pains, we are called to be agents of healing and to bind the wounds of others.
The contributions of Asian women in doing theology are still not taken seriously. Our method is not only contextual and transformative; it is also integral and inclusive. Asian theologies have emerged, but still the voices of women are rarely listened to. We, women, are called by our faith to condemn patriarchy and empire. In this light, we commit ourselves to collectively transgress the boundaries of structures set by patriarchy and the hegemonic control in church and society.

We therefore recommend that the CCA General Assembly

A. Re-affirm and strengthen its commitment to gender justice and ensure full participation of women in the church.

  1. by ensuring the integration of women’s voices in decision making, gender equity and balance in all levels of its policies, programs, and in personnel.
  2. by encouraging the member-churches to take seriously gender balance in selection of delegates to the Assembly, and ensure that women of ability and experience are in the pool of resource persons.
  3. by promoting policies, protocols and education on the prevention of sexual harassment for its own staff and programs that would serve as a model for the member-churches.

B. Endeavor to bring an end to all forms of violence against women and children in church and society.

  1. by working to eliminate violence in the home, in the church and in society, and by urging the member-churches to do the same.
  2. by adopting the agenda of overcome economic violence against women as part of the Decade to Overcome Violence and Peace for Life.
  3. by inviting churches to set aside a Sunday each year to focus on the campaign to end violence against women and children.
  4. by inviting churches to integrate gender justice into the Christian curriculum in churches and in theological seminaries.
  5. by encouraging member-churches to provide advocacy and services to victims of violence against women and children (VAW+C) in the forms of shelter, counseling, healing, and legal services; creating programs and allocating funds to address VAW+C.

C. Continue to encourage resistance to the forces of globalization that denigrate the dignity of women and children, and of the Earth.

  1. by considering the impact of globalization, trafficking and forced migration on women and children.
  2. by creating spaces for women to share their stories and wisdom on the impacts of globalization and their alternatives and/or strategies to resist the evils of globalization and transform unjust arrangements of relationships.
  3. by addressing human rights and Indigenous People’s rights, and ecological concerns in order to build capacity for self sustenance of communities in their own lands.
  4. by engaging ecumenical partners in the North in a discussion on resource-sharing to deal with issues of poverty, including the feminization of poverty.

D. Guarantee support for women victims of abuse and violence, especially in situations of conflict and war.

  1. by encouraging member-churches to establish legal support programs for the protection of women’ victims of abuse and violence in situations of conflicts and war.
  2. by strengthening its efforts to engage in expressions of solidarity with peoples of other faith, and to unveil the root causes of the conflict.
  3. understanding that Christians have no monopoly of justice, by engaging in interfaith cooperation and interfaith solidarity based on our common humanity.
  4. by resolving that its reading of the Bible and all religious texts in Asia should be contextual, integral, inclusive and transformative.

E. Celebrate diversity and engage in serious study on the broader issue of human sexuality by encouraging the member-churches to adopt programs to inform and re-educate the church about diversity in human sexuality.

We acknowledge the efforts of CCA in enabling women and men to reflect on the challenges to build communities of peace. However, we challenge CCA to do more and go beyond the commonplace. We urge CCA to continue to grow in its concern over the impact of patriarchy and globalization on the lives of women and children in Asia. We call on the churches to repent its complacency and complicity to different forms of violence, and endeavor to end violence against women and children. We urge the men to be truly our partners in the struggle for just and peaceful communities for women and children. Let the churches’ practice of genuine solidarity with women be an embodiment of our faith in Jesus the Christ who showed us the Way to build communities of peace.

Your sisters in Christ,


The Participants of the Women’s Forum
CCA Pre-Assembly Women’s Forum

NOTES :

1 This message was issued by the Pre-Assembly Women’s Forum held on March 26 – 31, 2005 at Holiday Garden Hotel, in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

 


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