WHEREAS the Opening Worship at the 2009 GA [General Assembly] reported on President Sinkford’s Pilgrimage to Africa and celebrated a new outreach to African UU [Unitarian Universalist] congregations, as represented by 3 male Africans from UU congregations in Africa; and
WHEREAS the International Convocation for UU Women, held early in 2009 in Houston, Texas, invited and funded scholarships for 8 women leaders from Africa to attend the conference, and despite heroic efforts, none successfully obtained visas to attend the Conference; and
WHEREAS—although it can be argued that visa requirements are complex and depend on individual circumstances of each person—these results raise questions about the justice of the U.S. system of granting visas and possible gender bias; and
WHEREAS the response given for denial of visas to the women was in some cases lack of bank account and/or assets, which more often affects women in Africa than men,
THEREFORE this resolution asks the appropriate UU body to contact the office for women’s advocacy or other appropriate staff in the State Department and/or the Office of the Presidency of the United States and urge consideration of two actions:
- an inquiry into the reasons for denial of visas for these female leaders for access to the U.S. for attendance at a UU religious conference; and
- consideration of the longer term issue of whether the criteria for granting visas for such religious and/or broader educational events needs to be reviewed, to prevent in the future such apparent unequal access.