Justice for women
"There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28 NRSV).
God created both men and women in God’s own image (Gen. 1:26-31), yet with the fall comes a brokenness that positions men in dominion over their wives. (Gen. 3:16). However, Jesus teaches against this order of patriarchy in his teaching about equitable treatment of wives' divorce (Mark 10:2-12). He also praises Mary for coming to listen to him, instead of fulfilling her expected domestic role (Luke 10:38-42). Paul follows Jesus’ example and calls all people to be one in Christ (Gal. 3:28).
“So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them." (Genesis 1:27 NRSV)
According to some estimates, women account for 70% of the world’s poor because of gaps in wages, education, and discrimination according to UNIFEM. In many countries, women are impoverished because they are denied the right of equality. Women work as primary caregivers and producers of food, yet are denied the rights to property ownership. They are prevented from owning or inheriting land. Lack of property combined with little or no education means women must depend on men to support them financially.
In the U.S. about half the people in poverty are women and a majority of these women are single without children according to the Center for American Progress. Women slide into poverty during young adulthood and again after retirement. They are paid less for their work, and women usually work in professions that earn less overall such as teaching, nursing, cleaning, and waitressing. Pregnancy and child bearing are also important factors, along with the fact that women are much more likely to provide unpaid caregiving than men. In addition, women are more likely to experience job loss and poverty because of domestic abuse and violence.
“Supporting women is a high-yield investment, resulting in stronger economies, more vibrant civil societies, healthier communities, and greater peace and stability.”
As we look to the developing world, providing aid to women is a critical asset to helping communities rise out of poverty. According to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), 64% of illiterate people worldwide are women. In addition, the majority of children not currently in school are girls.
Equality between men and women can allow women to fully participate in society and become an active part of growing struggling economies. Women with access to education can participate in business. Women with access to land and jobs can raise household incomes and in turn possess more control over household decisions. Often times this leads to healthier children with more prospects and a reduction of poverty for future generations.
The oppression of women worldwide is vast and takes many forms. Abuses against women are physical, sexual, psychological, and economic. Abuse cuts through all boundaries of geography, age, race, culture, and wealth. It happens in the home, in school, at work, in farm fields, refugee camps, and during national conflict. According to UNFEM, 60% of women will experience physical or sexual violence during their lifetime. In a World Bank study of women ages 16-44, rape and domestic violence is more dangerous than car accidents and cancer. In the U.S. domestic violence costs $5.8 billion annually according to the CDC.
According to a 2006 UN report, some progress has been made in protecting women from violence. There were 89 countries with laws about domestic violence, 90 with laws against sexual harassment, and 104 countries with laws against marital rape. However, in 102 countries there were no laws protecting victims of domestic violence.
In the face of wide-spread violence against women, the Church of the Brethren works to empower women to freedom, self-determination, and leadership in societies world-wide.