A presentation that took place during the meeting of the steering group of the International Anglican Women’s Network (IAWN) in October in London, England, shared the work being done by Canadian Anglicans to empower women through Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF). The aim of the presentation was to connect the advocacy work of the IAWN with the service programs of PWRDF, the relief and development agency of the Anglican Church of Canada.
“Oftentimes, advocacy can feel like an uphill battle attempting to persuade and convince policy-makers and governments to advance justice and equality among the world’s women and young girls,” PWRDF executive committee member the Rev. Margaret Dempster said. Dempster is also an elected representative on the IAWN steering committee.
However, Dempster noted in her presentation, action and advocacy work hand in hand. She presented a cycle of “advocacy, action, assessment and adaptation.”
As an advocacy organization, the IAWN lobbies governmental organizations and the Anglican provinces on behalf of women, Dempster said. This advocacy has an impact on the policies and programs of various organizations and can lead to new initiatives for on-the-ground service organizations like the PWRDF. Building bridges between these two types of organizations is important.
“It goes from advocacy into developing policies, programs and services, and then they get acted out on the ground. Then you see what works and what doesn’t work; then there’s some alteration and feedback from what’s happening on the ground; then that links into adapting, evaluating and then refined advocacy,” Dempster said.
The presentation to the IAWN group also outlined how the PWRDF has been able to partner with the Canadian government to deliver relief and development services, including attending meetings with Global Affairs Canada to discuss implementing a new government initiative called the Feminist International Assistance Policy (FIAP), to enhance gender equality and women’s empowerment.
According to its website, the IAWN is “a bold and prophetic voice for all women throughout the Anglican Communion working to uphold the God-given dignity of women and girls, to eradicate gender-based inequality and violence, and to promote just relationships among all people.” All women in the Anglican Communion are considered members of the IAWN, Dempster says. She encourages those who wish to get involved with the work of the IAWN by taking part in the annual 16 Days Against Gender Violence campaign, joining a group to attend the UN Commission on the Status of Women and sharing their stories with the IAWN.