Evaluation and outlook for women's network in Central and Western Europe

In the LWFs women’s networks, lay and ordained women strengthen and support one another in prayer and action. Photo: LWF/Johanan Celine Valeriano
In the LWFs women’s networks, lay and ordained women strengthen and support one another in prayer and action. Photo: LWF/Johanan Celine Valeriano

Continued engagement for women’s empowerment and gender justice

(LWI) – "It is important to take stock halfway between the last LWF Assembly in Namibia in 2017 and the next Assembly in Poland in 2023, and to identify the issues for further work," said Kathrin Wallrabe, regional coordinator for Central and Western Europe for the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) women's network WICAS.

The WICAS network met for an online conference on 2 and 3 June. Twenty-five participants from LWF member churches in the region attended the conference with the theme "Churches raising their voices for women's empowerment and gender justice – Towards the 2023 Assembly in Krakow." It was originally planned as an in-person meeting in Strasbourg, France.

In his word of greeting, Christian Albecker, president of the host church, the Union of Protestant Churches of Alsace and Lorraine, and LWF Council member, said that "the work in the field of gender justice is never finally done." Therefore, "further active engagement" in this area is needed.

The second LWF member church in France was represented by Rev. Emmanuelle Seyboldt. The president of the United Protestant Church of France held a devotion on the biblical story of Mary and Martha. In it, she emphasized the aspect of the women being able to "choose for themselves."

The new LWF program executive for gender justice and women's empowerment, Rev. Dr. Marcia Blasi, introduced herself to the network. She stressed the importance of the work done in regional networks, also for preparing for the 2023 Women's Pre-Assembly.

The important thing, Blasi added, is to engage individual LWF member churches in the reflection and action towards gender justice: "It is still a long way to achieve the inclusion and equitable participation of all people, regardless of gender, origin or social status." Therefore, it was important that the WICAS conference and participants addressed these issues in their respective contexts.

LWFs gender justice advocacy officer, Sikhonzile Ndlovu, expressed her thanks for the active participation of women from the network at the online event held during the 65th UN Commission on the Status of Women. She encouraged continuous collaboration between the women.

Other topics on the conference agenda were a report from a working group of the German National Committee of the Lutheran World Federation (GNC/LWF) on gender justice, presentations of projects for women’s empowerment and support in member churches. Archbishop Lauma Zusevics of the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church Worldwide (LELCW) also presented a report about the situation of women in her church.

The WICAS network in Central and Western Europe remains committed to advocate for the full participation of women in the ordained ministry, said Wallrabe. This follows up on the call made in the Women's Message to the Assembly in Namibia.

By LWF/A. Weyermüller