Next Steps re: Gender Justice: Moving from #MeToo to #WeToo

At the March 2019 United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW63), Loretto at the UN not only welcomed a delegation of over 30 girls and women, but also co-sponsored a parallel event entitled “Breakthrough in Transforming Patriarchy: The Promise of Gender Equity and Reconciliation.” We co-sponsored this event with an organization that I had met at the 2018 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Toronto called Gender Equity Reconciliation International (GERI). I was impressed with the organization’s work over two decades (in nearly 10 countries) to bring together women and men committed to ending thousands of years of oppression and cultural conditioning. At the parallel event in March, Phil Vivirito, GERI Trainer, and Chaya Pamula, GERI board member, presented the GERI methodology in an engaging and active session attended by 19 women and men.

Even before the event in March, I sensed that GERI’s work might provide us with insight into new tools for dismantling patriarchy through healing and reconciliation. So, from 7-9 May 2019, we co-sponsored an invitational gathering entitled “#MeToo to #WeToo: Reconciling Relations Between Women and Men,” which was designed specifically to facilitate skillful forms of mutual healing, respect, and creative collaboration and partnership across the gender divisions in society.  Working with GERI, the U.N. Committee for Spirituality, Values, and Global Concerns (CSVGC), and the Forum 21 Institute, our gathering on brought together 12 men, 10 women and seven facilitators, all willing to jointly confront the challenge presented by the #MeToo movement.  We shared our gender stories, discovered ways for women and men to reconcile gender relations, and envisioned possibilities to collaborate together in seeking a world where the Divine feminine and masculine were valued equally.  

As the #MeToo movement continues to unmask the long-hidden exploitation and harassment of half of humanity, it’s clear that neither women nor men can resolve this crisis on their own.  There is currently an urgent need for profound transformation in gender relations between men, women and gender non-conforming persons in our society and around the globe.  I deeply appreciated the GERI approach because it’s not about one-sided solutions, or women versus men, but rather justice versus injustice. 

In terms of how this might assist us as the Loretto Community, if we are indeed serious about supporting “outreach and inclusion of young persons who help to carry forward the charism and mission of Loretto” and “to enhance the lives of all members through relationship-building, deep sharing and development in body, mind and spirit” (adapted from Goals 2 & 5, 2018 Loretto Assembly), then partnering more deeply with GERI can help us meet these goals. 

Our next steps after the May intensive include teaming up with several colleagues to propose a workshop at the upcoming 2019 UN Department of Global Communications (DGC) NGO Conference in Salt Lake City, UT in August. (check it out here: https://outreach.un.org/ngorelations/68th-un-civil-society-conference) Our workshop, which was accepted, is entitled “Educating for Gender Justice: Stepping Stone to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” and will include both a panel presentation featuring our three organizations and the innovative ways we’re using media and communications methods to educate about the SDGs through the lens of gender justice, and also an interactive exercise for all attendees to raise consciousness regarding gender justice.  We will conclude with time to brainstorm new ideas to achieve the SDGs. We will conclude with time for questions and resource sharing.

Watch for more information about this workshop in later e-newsletters as well as other Loretto Community publications.  We live in a unique moment in our cultural evolution, and it’s prime time for men and women and people of all gender identities to be working together—co-creating new pathways of relational integrity among the sexes.