The Caribbean Conference of Churches (CCC) is pleased to join the international community in saluting all women on International Women’s Day March 8, 2009. Introduced thirty-four years ago by the United Nations, it is an occasion on which the struggles, strides and accomplishments of women are acknowledged and applauded locally, regionally and throughout the world.
Yet, even as the achievements and successes of women in all spheres of human activity are celebrated, the theme for 2009 recognises that there are important goals still to be attained. ‘Women and Men: United to End Violence Against Women’ underscores the fact that there can be no let up in the global effort to bring an end to this problem and the partnership that is essential for its eradication at all levels of society.
It is an appeal for the full cooperation and joint action necessary to address this brokenness in society. The CCC urges that continuous efforts be made to find strategies which would engage men as partners in action to overcome violence against women.
The CCC notes with concern that in the Caribbean, women continue to be victims of all forms of abuse and violent acts resulting in injury or even death and in complete violation of their dignity as created in the image and likeness of God.
We all know someone who has suffered in this way. The CCC also notes with concern that women continue to be affected in many ways by the illegal drug trade which has permeated society in the Caribbean.
As March 8 approaches, the CCC is of the view that the 2009 Caribbean Focus of the World Council of Churches’ (WCC) Decade to Overcome Violence (DOV) presents a splendid opportunity for churches, ecumenical organisations, other faith-based associations and all people of goodwill in our Region to continue to accord priority to the situation of crime and violence facing our societies.
The Decade to Overcome Violence (2001-2010): Churches Seeking Reconciliation and Peace is a global movement, launched by the WCC in February 2001.
It seeks to consolidate existing efforts and networks for overcoming violence and to inspire the creation of others. It also seeks to affirm both new and existing responses of churches and other groups internationally to various manifestations of violence.
Each year a specific geographical area of the world is highlighted in order to encourage regional and local churches in their efforts on behalf of peace and justice, deepen the churches’ understanding of the situation and challenges regionally and internationally and to celebrate the work of peace and reconciliation being carried out in the region at present.
The launch of the Caribbean regional focus of the DOV for 2009 took place at the Eighth Forum of National Councils of Churches of the Caribbean and the Caribbean Regional Group of the WCC held in Panama City, Panama from November 11-14, 2008. There it was agreed that the theme for 2009 will be “One Love: Building a Peaceful Caribbean”.
It is anticipated that the 2009 annual focus will build on work that has been carried out to date since the Decade to Overcome Violence was launched in this region in Vieques, Puerto Rico, in 2003.
Because the DOV seeks to emphasise overcoming rather than lamenting violence, it is hoped that one of the results of the annual focus will be an increase in the number of churches committed to and engaged in reconciliation and peace-building in their respective local contexts.
It is also hoped that the 2009 Caribbean focus could be supported by fruitful partnerships with the private sector, people of other religions and, especially, the media.
The DOV will culminate in the hosting by the World Council of Churches (WCC) of an International Ecumenical Peace Convocation (IEPC) in Kingston, Jamaica in May 2011.
In keeping, therefore, with the gospel accounts of the demonstrable affirmation by Jesus of the dignity and honour of all women, the CCC wishes to again extend congratulations to all women on the occasion of International Women’s Day 2009 and gratitude for their enormous contribution to all areas of life and, particularly, to peace-building and reconciliation.
In a special way, the CCC wishes to pay tribute to the thousands of courageous women, who also constitute the larger number of church membership in the Caribbean and whose creativity, ideas, managerial talents, industry, determination and selfless service give life to the ministries, mission and work of many churches and community-based organisations.
Gerard A. J. Granado (sgd)
Caribbean Conference of Churches
March 03, 2009