“If there is one thing that is truly global, it’s violence against women,” said Evangeline Anderson-Rajkumar, pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Versailles, Ind. She made the remark at a panel discussion during the 68th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW68) at the United Nations in March, as a member of an international delegation organized through the Lutheran Office for World Community (LOWC).

CSW68 is the United Nations’ largest annual gathering focused on accelerating the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls. During the event the Lutheran delegation hosted 37 participants from 20 countries across five continents. “Our global church continues to share its prophetic voice in the United Nations because it is compelled to push back against systems that continue to exclude, shun and oppress women and girls,” said Erin Brown, a deacon and ELCA Hunger Advocacy Fellow with LOWC. “By bringing our stories and experiences of working for gender justice to the United Nations, we put our faith into action and work to ensure that all women and girls may have life and have it to the full.”

The delegation—which included seminary deans, congregational pastors, gender justice coordinators and youth leaders from the global communion of churches of the Lutheran World Federation—met with government officials from member states, shared expertise on panels and engaged in U.N. advocacy work alongside several coalition partners, including Ecumenical Women at the United Nations and the Nongovernmental Organization Committee on the Status of Women. Worship at the gathering, which included a jazz vespers celebrating International Women’s Day, was a time of prayer, reflection and blessing.

The CSW68 theme focused on addressing poverty and strengthening institutions and financing, with a gender perspective. LOWC staff identified Jesus’ message of grace and equity as what guided their participation in the gathering. “When established powers have sought to limit God’s love by the exclusion of others from full participation in the community, divine compassion for the oppressed and divine passion for justice have called forth prophets to declare that God’s love includes all,” Brown said. “Our work—as advocates, as pastors, as students, as gender justice activists, as global citizens—is to continue to share and work toward that vision.”

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