40 Women leaders, over 35 churches and organisations represented, and 45 meetings with Politicians. This year's Micah Women Leaders Delegation to Canberra was signifiant for many reasons.
Forty women leaders representing all of Australia’s church denominations and Christian organisations have met with federal politicians in Canberra to address the shocking levels of violence toward women and children in the Pacific and ask elected leaders to reinforce partnership efforts with the Australian and Pacific church.
The cohort is the largest delegation of female Christian leaders to travel to the Parliament.
The united effort was coordinated by Micah Australia to address the gravity of the Pacific situation where nearly 87 percent of children and one in four adolescent girls across eight countries experience physical violence regularly while one in 10 experience sexual violence, according to a recent report from Australia’s leading aid and development NGOs.
The leaders met with Senior Ministers and Members of Parliament from both major political parties, advocating for policies supporting and protecting vulnerable women and children in the Pacific, while also encouraging continual leadership around Australia’s commitment to advocacy for a just world.
“If we’re to heed the call to love and care for our neighbour, we must see the great need of our neighbours in the Pacific – particularly women and children – who are often living in very vulnerable situations,” said Kate Harrison Brennan, CEO of Anglican Deaconess Ministries.
“With our unified voice, we hope our meetings encourage our representatives to continue exhibiting compassionate leadership – keeping women and children in the Pacific front of view when making decisions that will affect them.”
The delegation includes representatives from the Uniting Church, Hillsong, Baptist Church, Anglican Church, Catholic Church, The Salvation Army, Churches of Christ, Bible Society, Anglican Deaconess Ministries, Seventh-day Adventist, and more.
UnitingWorld’s Rev. Dr Seforosa Carroll said that it was “essential…to ensure our government’s ‘Pacific Step Up’ policies reflect the voices and needs of the vulnerable and marginalised in the Pacific, and that women are given a seat and have a voice at the table.”
“Since over 90 percent of the Pacific are Christian, we’re compelled to speak up for justice as well as emphasise the importance of churches as critical and integral partners for empowering women,” Rev. Dr Carroll said.
The cohort of Christian women leaders appealed to government leaders to make sure its commitment to the Pacific does not come at the cost of ‘stepping down’ elsewhere in the world. And to encourage the government to increase the Australian aid budget – now at its lowest level in history.
Tim Costello, Executive Director of Micah said the event was a unique opportunity to address cultural divisions and to unite Christian leaders.
“Too often, the church in Australia is known for advocating for our own rights, rather than the rights of the marginalised,” Rev. Costello said.
“These women, many of them on the front lines of social justice issues in our nation, have come to Canberra to advocate solely for the needs of others. What a great example they are setting for the church and our leaders.”
In addition to the advocacy work for justice issues, the women leaders brought a Christian perspective to the nation’s leaders around a number of concerns for the vulnerable across Australia and committed to praying for the officials in their leadership roles.
“What an honour to be a part of this significant moment for our nation,” said Harrison Brennan. “Every major church denomination is represented here today, showing our leaders that Christians are at our best when we are unified, when together we give voice to the vulnerable and advocate together for God’s justice in the world.”
Do you want an opportunity to speak to politicians about global justice issues? Then join us in Canberra from 30 November - 3 December this year at Voices for Justice. Apply now.