This profile was last updated in 2006
The Justice for Women Working Group (JWWG) of the National Council of Churches of Christ (NCC) was created over 25 years ago, and is now part of the Justice and Advocacy Commission, one of the NCC’s five program commissions. The purpose of the group is to lead member communions as they struggle on behalf of justice for women in church and society, offering resources, education, and advocacy.
The group is composed of rotating representatives from NCC member communions and other faith groups who share a commitment to justice and ecumenical work. JWWG leadership is managed by its Program Director, as well as by co-chairs who facilitate meetings and monitor projects and programs. Leadership is shared so that it reflects the racial and ethnic diversity the group actively seeks to uphold in its membership.
Programs and Projects
In defining their work, members are keen to choose endeavors that are realistic in terms of implementation across their diverse range of denominations, and that do not duplicate existing efforts – denominational, ecumenical or otherwise. Projects and programs tend to be creative, both because of members’ approaches and limited resources. Former Program Director Karen Hessel noted that, “the women agree to work together on certain things that they know they can do together that they don’t necessarily have the freedom, or flexibility, or the resources to do in their own shop.”
From open letters addressed to religious and political leaders, to co-sponsoring an ecumenical and interfaith consultation on women in peace processes, to the recent publication of several study and worship resources, JWWG members advocate to eradicate the range of justice issues that disproportionately affect women and children’s lives in church and society: poverty, violence, sexism, and racism.
Safety and Support
Equally important, JWWG members offer each other an environment of safety and mutual support. Denominations oftentimes undergo similar trends along the same timeline, such as budget cuts in women’s programs and advocacy commissions, and challenges posed to women’s leadership. By sharing stories and strategies, the women of JWWG build upon each other’s experiences, creating a safe space for collectively challenging patriarchal obstacles.
JWWG is currently focusing on a range of national initiatives including poverty mobilization through the “Let Justice Roll” campaign; inclusive, bias free language; Tirzah, the ecumenical young adult women’s group; and follow up on the fall 2003 Hartford Seminary Consultation: The Status of Feminist Organizing in Ecumenical Churches Since the 1970s. International initiatives include access to safe and clean water and forging a stronger partnership with AFRUS AIDS. These projects are but a small sampling of JWWG’s powerful advocacy work on behalf of women locally, nationally, and globally.