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Alveda King's Statement to the United Nations
Dr. Alveda King
Director, African American Outreach
Priests for Life is a registered non-government organization (NGO) with the United Nations where it advocates for the dignity and respect for life at all its stages. For the upcoming 2010 Annual Ministerial Review of the Economic and Social Council, Dr. Alveda King, pastoral associate of Priests for Life and Gospel of Life Ministries and director of African-American Outreach has submitted written testimony which address the theme of the meeting , "Implementing the internationally agreed goals and commitments in regard to gender equality and the empowerment of women".
Dr. King’s statement implores the high level attendees to consider:
“All of our rights, agreements, and laws mean nothing if individual lives are not respected and protected. If empowerment is defined as the ability to take the lives of those who are inconvenient or otherwise in our way, it is a tool of oppression. Oppression is precisely what the United Nations was founded to oppose and prevent. We must be careful to ensure that programs do not seek to empower one group, class, or gender at the expense of another’s existence. Today, we see the evidence of the wrong kind of empowerment all around us. Over 40 million babies worldwide die each year by an act that some regard as empowering – abortion.”
Those attending the high level meeting include Ministers from many countries including Ministers for Gender Equality, Development, Economics, Finance, Health and Foreign Affairs as well as Executive Heads of UN Agencies, Funds and Programs. These high level attendees are tasked with developing initiatives for empowerment and equality of women.
Dr. King’s statement follows:
2010 ECOSOC High Level Segment, Annual Ministerial Review "Implementing the Internationally Agreed Goals and Commitments in regard to Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women"
Statement of Dr. Alveda King
Priests for Life, Director of African-American Outreach
We cannot speak of gender equality and women’s empowerment without recognizing women’s unique role in shaping the future. As the Annual Ministerial Review takes place, it is absolutely vital that we bear in mind what equality means and what it does not mean. Our guide must be fundamental human rights.
Empowerment begins with survival. All of our rights, agreements, and laws mean nothing if individual lives are not respected and protected. If empowerment is defined as the ability to take the lives of those who are inconvenient or otherwise in our way, it is a tool of oppression. Oppression is precisely what the United Nations was founded to oppose and prevent. We must be careful to ensure that programs do not seek to empower one group, class, or gender at the expense of another’s existence.
Today, we see the evidence of the wrong kind of empowerment all around us. Over 40 million babies worldwide die each year by an act that some regard as empowering – abortion. The results are staggering and ominous. In many countries, the legalization of abortion has not resulted in women’s liberation; it has resulted in their elimination through abortion.
The emerging gender imbalances in the populations of southern and eastern Asian nations are alarming and have profound implications for the future stability of those regions. Not only do these countries face male dominated societies, they will face the economic consequences of dramatically aging and shrinking work forces in the not too distant future. Sex-selective abortion, which is the means by which women are being eliminated in these countries, is bringing inequality and instability where it was supposed to bring equality and empowerment.
What women need is not the elimination of their daughters and sons; it is the availability of pro-creative medical care and education. Problems are not solved by taking the lives of those who have the problems or those who are perceived to be the problems. The presence of skilled birth attendants, adequate nutrition and access to health care will reduce maternal deaths and strengthen the next generation. Fertility literacy will empower women with little expense.
The options that truly empower are the options that affirm life. As the mother of nine children, six living, one miscarried, and two aborted, I know which of my actions were empowering and which were destructive.
As one who lost a father and an uncle in America’s civil rights struggles, I know that those who fight equality feel justified to take others’ lives, but that those who seek equality never do. What the nations of the world must offer women is life through pro-creative care, not the false hope that destroying their children will make their lives better.
True equality and empowerment, then, begin with the proposition that every person be regarded with equal respect and protected under the law regardless of color, sex, age, condition of dependency, or stage of life. With these principles as its guide, the United Nations can serve the women of the world; indeed, it can serve the world.
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