As a follow-up to the 60th UN Consultation on the Status of Women, a summit entitled, "Leave No Women in Religion Behind in the 2030 Development Agenda" was held at the Grand Manor in the Bronx on July 16, 2016. The event aimed to address the implementation of practical strategies for women of faith. By following such practices, women in religion can assure their position and value to implementation of the 2030 development agenda initiative for the era of SDGs. Speakers with expertise in this area gathered to share best practices.
Dr. Ada Okika, Executive Director of UNESCO Center for Global Education, served as moderator for the event. She began by suggesting that women need the "5P's": people, planet, peace, partnership, and prosperity in order to be involved on the global level. She also emphasized that "the effort of women is needed for global peace to be possible." Dr. Ada also presented an insightful message asking the audience, "When called to the spirit world will you leave an empty space behind where your efforts should be preserved instead of forgotten?"
Dr. Andrew Wilson, Director of Scriptural Research and Professor of Scriptural Studies of the Unification Theological Seminary, gave one of the keynote addresses entitled, "Women who Recognize God's Feminine Needs." He spoke of how women religious leaders should think "outside the box" and not simply follow traditional male models. Dr. Wilson continued, expressing that in religion, women have been given primarily supportive roles with the role of savior, priest or leader exclusively reserved for men, leaving women feeling alienated. The content was fresh and thought-provoking, inspiring several comments and a spirited question and answer session.
Evangelist Uloma Ojei, CEO and founder at Vision Loved, spoke of the need for women to spend time with their daughters - to pray and talk to them about things that are going on in the world. She emphasized the importance of letting daughters feel drawn to their mothers in faith and family.
Abi Owoeye-Wise addressed the underlying issues by suggesting that women ask themselves, "What is preventing me from making a substantial contribution for world peace?" She emphasized that whatever cause women seek to support, they should give 100%, for no effort is in vain.
Dr. Maria Umeh, Professor Emerita at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, gave a fascinating account of a goddess story from eastern Nigeria which shed light on the lost element of the feminine in current religious understanding.
Attorney Lasonya Thompson gave practical advice on knowing the law and developing the skills necessary to affect the world. She also mentioned that generational disparity in technology should be bridged through inter-generational mentoring. Attorney Thompson closed with solid advice on how to leave a legacy through a personal will and testament that will positively influence your family, as well as the community and world.
Call to Action
Finally, there was a call to action by Jeanne Carroll of Women's Federation for World Peace, International in which she described the various colors and textures of a tapestry being akin to the unique value of each culture, race and religion. She then mentioned that the only hope there is for peace is for each woman to recognize and strengthen her own unique value. She added that women should find peace in their heart and inspire peace in the home. It is only then that women can effectively attend, support, and be accountable to each other in order to create a substantial and sustainable world of peace.