International Convocation of UU Women
Nearly 600 Unitarians, Unitarian Universalists, and progressive people of faith from approximately 20 countries gathered in Houston, Texas for the First International Convocation of UU Women from Thursday, February 26th through Sunday, March 1st. The theme of the Convocation was “Weaving Global Partnerships to Enrich Women's Lives”. The Convocation was organized by a Steering Committee with representation from a diverse coalition of UU organizations and individual leaders who are focused on supporting the empowerment of Women domestically and internationally. Throughout the Convocation participants enjoyed Worship and Music, Panel Presentations and Workshops, Keynote Speeches, Plenary Sessions, and joined together in small "Global Sisters" groups for reflection and planning. Presentations at the Convocation were offered by an exciting array of religious, academic, artistic, and social justice leaders. All of the events were organized around four Areas: Faith, Education about Women's Rights Worldwide, Action, and Transformation. The Convocation began with an Opening Ceremony facilitated by Rev. Dorothy Emerson, and Margot Adler. It was expertly framed by the theme of “Earth, Air, Fire and Water”. Adler led the gathered community in chanting, and inspirational music was performed by both Carolyn McDade and emma's revolution. Participants were welcomed by the Honorary Chairperson of the Convocation, Maria Sinkford, by its Advisory Committee Chairperson, Barbara Beach, and UUA Moderator, Gini Courter. Each issued challenges to participants to create community, learn new ideas, find inspiration, and prepare to make commitments to action plans emerging from the convocation. The theme speakers during the opening ceremony were Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards – authors of Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism and the Future. Baumgardner and Richards engaged with Margot Adler in a spirited and fascinating dialogue about “second wave” and “third wave” feminism. Other "theme speakers" included Rebecca Adamson, founder of First Nations Development Institute and First Peoples Worldwide; Francis Moore Lappe, author of Diet for a Small Planet and co-founder of Food First; Reverend Rebecca Parker, President of Starr King School for the Ministry; Dr. Kalpana Kannabiran, founding member of Asmita Resource Centre for Women; Caren Grown, co-author of The Feminist Economics of Trade; Dr. Sharon Welch, Provost, Meadville/Lombard Theological School; and Rev. Meg Riley, Director of Advocacy and Witness, UUA. They were joined by nearly 60 panel discussion and workshop presenters on issues including "Making Education Available Worldwide", "Raising our UU Daughters as Global Leaders", "Singing in a Sacred Circle", and "UUs Ministering to Women: The UU Holdeen India Program". During the final day of the Convocation, discussion of planning that took place throughout the event was led by UUA Moderator Gini Courter. Focus group leaders described the Convocation goals in three general categories: Education Health Care, and Ending Violence against Women In each category both domestic and international initiatives were described, along with a process for pursuing each goal. The goals will be pursued by individuals and congregations, with active support from the coalition of organizations that initiated the Convocation. The ICUUW itself will continue to provide administrative assistance in that process, and support the continuation of the Online Community it formed. More information about the Convocation and the road ahead is available at http://www.icuuw.com.