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HOUSTON - The first-ever international gathering of Unitarian Universalist women took place Feb. 26 through March 1, 2009 at the Hilton of the Americas in Houston, Texas, USA.

Convo organizers Barbara Beach and Laura NagelNational Public Radio personality Margot Adler and Francis Moore Lappé, author of the popular book Diet for a Small Planet, participated as keynote speakers. Other speakers included: Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards, Third Wave Feminists and authors of Manifesta; Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker, theologian; Carolyn McDade, songwriter; Gini Courter, Moderator of the Unitarian Universalist Association; Dr. Caren Grown, Professor at American University; emma’s revolution, award-winning peace activist musicians; Rev. Meg Riley, Director, UUA Advocacy and Witness; Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman, First UU Church of Dallas and Candidate for President of the UUA; Rev. Dr. Ann Peart, Unitarian College, Manchester, England; Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt, Fourth Universalist Church, New York, NY; Dr. Kalpana Kannabiran, sociologist, NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad, India; Dr. Diana Strassmann, Rice University, editor International Journal of Feminist Economics; Rebecca Adamson, CEO of First Peoples Worldwide; and Dr. Sharon Welch, Provost, Meadville Lombard Theological School, Chicago. (Pictured are Convo organizers Barbara Beach and Laura Nagel.)

600 women from 17 countries and 38 states attended. They gained knowledge and friendships across the great social divides of our time -- geographic, socio-economic, age, gender, race, expertise etc.

The unique “Global Sisters Groups” participatory conversations were a highlight of the Convocation.  Through this process, attendees actually modeled the key principles of participation and self-determination.

International Convocation of UU WomenThe Convocation’s three most important issues facing women worldwide are:  Education; health care, including reproductive rights and justice; and preventing violence against women and children. Two key concepts, empowering women in decision-making, and reducing poverty were viewed as overriding and are to be considered important priorities when putting theory into practice in each of the three focus areas. This experience and appropriate follow up from the ICUUW and other organizations will result in expanded initiatives which improve women’s lives in local communities around the globe.

Gizi Nagy from Transylvania (Romania) wrote:  “…The Convocation has started something revolutionary in the history of Unitarians and Universalists…The Convocation planners were courageous enough to start, and I am sure we the participants will have courage enough to continue the construction of this bridge for our faith and for the security for our children toward a better and more peaceful world.”



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