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Rev. Rebecca Sienes, UU minister in the PhilippinesThe Rev. Rebecca Quimada-Sienes was the 1st ordained UU woman minister of the UUCP (Unitarian Universalist Church of the Philippines) and is currently the Coordinator of the UUCP. She graduated from Meadville-Lombard. Quimada-Sienes designed a program called BUHATA PINAY (translated as "Do It, Filipina") to empower UU and non-UU women to address the issue of domestic abuse. She will be speaking at the Convocation from the perspective of the Action theme of the Convocation, one of four themes, focusing on Model Programs and Strategies.

October 8, 2008

As a UU woman religious leader in the Philippines, a country widely known for its Roman Catholicism, I realize that the International Convocation of Unitarian Universalist Women is very important.

I remember reading an article in the UU World years back about a UU minister and his wife who were working for women. I wrote and asked if he could extend his work to the UU women in the Philippines, but his response was negative. Yet I can't forget his statement, "If you want to change society, educate the women."

There are two reasons why ICUUW is important.

First, the best people to work on women's issues are women themselves. Women are victims of domestic abuse, rape, flesh trade/sex trafficking, militarization, poverty and other forms of abuse. Women can be quiet, shy or timid. They have the capacity to hold onto pain much longer than anyone should bear. When the moment comes that a woman finally shares her pain, we must be receptive. A woman needs another woman to hear her troubles, dreams and aspirations in life. Global connections and partnerships among UU women in the world are essential to jointly address these issues. Together, we can send out a strong wake-up call to organizations and institutions that victimize women and children.

Second, a creation of an international body of UU women is essential. Yes, this sounds ambitious, but there is a great need. If UU women take the lead and pool together different resources, we can better address many issues of abuse against women and children. If an international group uses holistic strategies, the deeper causes of many problems can be solved. It is painful to see children of poor parents in rural areas and villages not doing well in school. They may be physically present, but mentally absent. If asked “Why?” most likely they will answer "We are hungry." This is the very reason that the newly organized UUCP Learning School has included a food and vitamin program for preschoolers. Otherwise, they cannot move on towards a brighter future.

Women nurture the young, and in doing so, they raise the future leaders of our society. Gathered together, women can improve lives. Educated together, women can produce important changes in society.



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