Update (16 March 2020): This year’s YWET programme to be held 1 – 31 July in Kingston, Jamaica is cancelled in light of the COVID-19 epidemic (Coronavirus Disease 2019).

Following a surge in confirmed cases around the world, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared COVID-19 to be a pandemic on 11 March, signalling that they are “deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction.”

“We have never before seen a pandemic sparked by a coronavirus… and we have never before seen a pandemic that can be controlled, at the same time.” said WHO Director-General. Characterising the outbreak as a pandemic points to it spreading in several regions through local transmission, a grim warning about the global spread and severity of the illness.

We note with measured relief of an ebb in China, even as we brace for spikes elsewhere.  There is widespread uncertainty as to when we will see an end to or a weakening of this spread of COVID-19. Some have lost their lives, and many more are in quarantine, extending to whole countries such as in the case of Italy.  The situation has filled many with anxiety, which is not difficult to understand and appreciate.

We call for prayers for all those who are infected, the families of those who have died, and for those who are experiencing xenophobic attacks on account of this outbreak. We also pray for livelihoods that are being destroyed due to the impact of COVID-19 on movement and the economy.

The Young Women Enabling Transformation (YWET) Programme is an intensive four-week course that aims to provide a safe space for women to articulate their oppression and aspirations, and offer necessary biblical and theological skills required to transform patriarchy in our churches.

As an organisation committed to the resistance of empire as being the legitimate form of mission in our context today, CWM recognises patriarchy – that has infiltrated structures, institutions, policies and theology – as a primary obstacle to freedom and equality in both church and society. As a matter of fact, Christian theology and spirituality has provided legitimacy for the second-class status of women in the world for many years. This continues to be the situation in the Church, which often excludes their gifts and talents from the ministry.

Therefore, as part of living out our commitment to justice, we recognise the sinfulness of patriarchy and work towards its deconstruction and annihilation. To do so, CWM has dedicated resources to the YWET Programme, which works towards empowering a community of young women for a critical and creative resistance to patriarchy, and building their capacity to contribute towards constructive alternatives envisioning a different society.