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Editor’s Note: “U*U’s and nons in a vast interconnected web of purpose” (quoted from Dana Fisher Ashrawi’s poem about the Convocation in the Fall WOMUUNWEB) is already coming true! I received the first post-Convo.news item (below) just this morning from a non-U*U.

The situation in Washington DC appears more hopeful for ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) with the new Obama/Biden Administration, and the new Congress. Both the new President and Vice President are familiar with the Treaty, both having served on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as Senators, Biden most recently as the its Chair. Senator John Kerry (D-MA), who now chairs the Committee, has always been supportive, as is Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), who chairs the Sub-Committee in which the Treaty rests. The Committee membership now has three women members, Senator Boxer, plus two new women Senators, Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and the Party ratio is now 11 Democrats to 8 Republicans (one still undesignated pending the outcome of the Coleman/Franken Senatorial race in Minnesota.) Ratification passage by the full Senate will require a 2/3rds (67) favorable vote.


Weaving global partnerships to enrich women’s lives
February 26 – March 1, 2009

Rev Shirley Ranck, UUWR co-convenerThe Convocation opened and closed with a view of Earth from space on two giant screens. The closing song was Blue Boat Home(1) and as it was sung large Earth balls went flying over the heads of the 600 participants who kept them flying by batting them around the large ballroom. It seemed to me that a whole new world-view was finally emerging.

The Convocation itself was both exhilarating and sobering. We listened to a stunning array of powerful women speakers, women such as Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman, Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt, Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker, Rev. Dr. Ann Peart from England, Dr. Kalpana Kannabiran from India, Rev. Pap Maria from Transylvania, Dr. Creamlimon Nongbri from India, Rebecca Adamson from the Cherokee Nation, Rev. Rebecca Sienes from The Philippines, Dr. Sharon Welch, Margot Adler of National Public Radio, Frances Moore Lappe, Kathy Matsui from Japan, and many others who led workshops and facilitated small groups. We watched and listened as the chalice was lighted with words from five languages. We sang along with singer/songwriter Carolyn McDade and singing group emma’s revolution.

Dana AshrawiThe bubble is a special form in nature. A living cell can be contemplated as a bubble-like structure, enclosing protectively the important contents of its variously functioning parts. And yet the cell has an external structure through which energy and matter can pass both ways. New life is created inside the cell, which ultimately splits in two not to die but to continue living, and proving that the whole is more than the sum of its parts and that all is connected. And over time, new life evolves and becomes different life. The Global Sisters Groups were like living cells, spiritual bubbles of life creating more spiritual life, allowing ideas and energy to pass back and forth within and beyond each.

The Global Sisters Groups were an indispensable part of the Convocation. To have designed the structure of the Convocation to include time for such interaction is brilliant. I’d like to give kudos to the powerful thinking and understanding of policy making and organizational management that went into this design. The Global Sisters process for the Convocation was based on the Community Capacity-Building process developed by the UU Partner Church Council.

Helen Popenoe surveyed 23 presenters and keynote speakers from the Convocation as to their impressions afterward.

She asked for responses to three prompts:

1. What energized you the most about being at the ICUUW Convocation?
2. Do you feel you might have “opened a door” for your audience that could lead in a certain direction of further consciousness-raising and/or a particular action plan?
3. Please, give an example of one such “door.”

Not all have responded yet, and several have asked for more time, so look forward to more impressions in the next season’s issue.

Helen wrote in an email to me some great impressions of her own. Her thoughts in this article paint a more colorful multi-dimensional picture of the atmosphere of this amazing gathering:

What energized you the most about being at the ICUUW Convocation?

Caren GrownCaren Grown
Economist-In-Residence, Department of Economics. College of Arts and Sciences American University.
At ICCUW was Theme Speaker on Tackling The Issue Worldwide Of Women in Poverty.
"Meeting exciting, talented, and energized women who want to make the world a better place and sharing information about all that they are already doing in the US and with congregations in other countries."

HOUSTON - The first-ever international gathering of Unitarian Universalist women took place Feb. 26 through March 1, 2009 at the Hilton of the Americas in Houston, Texas, USA.

Convo organizers Barbara Beach and Laura NagelNational Public Radio personality Margot Adler and Francis Moore Lappé, author of the popular book Diet for a Small Planet, participated as keynote speakers. Other speakers included: Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards, Third Wave Feminists and authors of Manifesta; Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker, theologian; Carolyn McDade, songwriter; Gini Courter, Moderator of the Unitarian Universalist Association; Dr. Caren Grown, Professor at American University; emma’s revolution, award-winning peace activist musicians; Rev. Meg Riley, Director, UUA Advocacy and Witness; Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman, First UU Church of Dallas and Candidate for President of the UUA; Rev. Dr. Ann Peart, Unitarian College, Manchester, England; Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt, Fourth Universalist Church, New York, NY; Dr. Kalpana Kannabiran, sociologist, NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad, India; Dr. Diana Strassmann, Rice University, editor International Journal of Feminist Economics; Rebecca Adamson, CEO of First Peoples Worldwide; and Dr. Sharon Welch, Provost, Meadville Lombard Theological School, Chicago. (Pictured are Convo organizers Barbara Beach and Laura Nagel.)

600 women from 17 countries and 38 states attended. They gained knowledge and friendships across the great social divides of our time -- geographic, socio-economic, age, gender, race, expertise etc.


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