Episcopal delegates to UN conference see challenge and hope in digital education for women and girls

Episcopal delegates to the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women, from left, the Rev. Lilo Rivera, Ailysh Cooper and the Rev. Elizabeth Garnsey. Photo/Lynnaia Main via Episcopal News Service

By Melodie Woerman

Episcopal News Service

Episcopal delegates to the 67th United Nations Commission on the Status of Women attended official meetings, adjacent events and daily worship during the commission’s first in-person meeting since 2019.

Activities and delegates’ work are centered on the theme of the March 6-17 commission: innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.

Eight of the nine delegates are in New York for the event – the other is attending online. Five delegates are participating in UNCSW for the first time;  they are representing Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, and part of their work is to advocate for priorities he outlined in an official statement:

  1. Extend accessibility to all, and prioritize marginalized women and girls.
  2. Ensure human rights protections, safety and security.
  3. Accelerate gender equality education for all.

Three delegates are teachers, “the first time we’ve had so many teachers,” Lynnaia Main, The Episcopal Church’s representative to the United Nations, told Episcopal News Service. They all have experience with online education, and Main said that should help them, as well other delegates – some of whom are less tech-savvy – better engage with the event’s emphasis on how education and technology can aid gender equality.

While every UNCSW meeting deals with topics that are important to women and girls across the world, Main called this year’s event a “high-stakes conference,” since it is taking place as the U.N. considers its first Global Digital Compact, which will “outline shared principles for an open, free and secure digital future for all.” The compact will be adopted in September. The lead time, Main said, gives UNCSW delegates the chance to provide input, through their organizations, on what it should include before it is adopted this fall. “It is quite amazing to realize that we are dealing with uncharted territory,” she added.

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