Tarella Spirituality: listen to the heart speak
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY
The Gospels are punctuated with stories about women, most of the un-named. This was partly because in the culture of the time the status of women was very low. For example, a woman’s testimony was not acceptable in a court of law, and women did not belong to the liturgical community, Jewish law prohibited men from talking to any woman outside of their family. Adult Jewish males thanked God each day in prayer “that thou hast not made me a gentile, nor a woman, nor an ignorant man”. This was the culture in which Jesus grew up. Yet, in his dealings with women, Jesus made it clear he considered them to be equal to men.
Each March as International Women’s Day comes around I am reminded and saddened that for millions of women around the world, in spite of two thousand years of Christianity , nothing much has changed. Women, more than men, continue to feel the age-old lash of violence, repression, isolation, enforced ignorance and discrimination.
If I was a woman in Yemen I would only be able to leave the house if my husband had given me permission and I was wearing a burka.
If I was a woman in Somalia I would likely have died in childbirth or soonafter, due to a total lack of antenatal care.
If I was a woman in India I may have been forced to abort a baby daughter.
In Saudi Arabia I would not be allowed to drive a car.
If I was an elderly Filipino woman I might be the sole carer of my grandchildren because poverty forces their mother to work as a maid in Singapore.
If I was a woman in PNG my chances of being elected to parliament are negligible. In 36 years there have only been 4 women representatives.
In Pakistan I would be lucky to have had more than one year of education, while in Bolivia, I may never have learnt to read or write, even though my brothers could.
If I worked in a factory in China I would only be paid half as much as a man doing the same job.
If I was a woman in just about any country in the Horn of Africa I couldn’t expect to live much beyond 45 years.
As a pre-teen in South Africa my parents might both have died of Aida leaving me as the sole carer of younger brothers and sisters.
In 28 African countries once I turned 9 I would most likely have been subjected to female genital mutilation and married any time after I turned 10.
Discrimination against women, however it is expressed, is wrong. In God’s eyes we are created equal, but in the eyes of some cultures, both international and a lot closer to home, there is inequality. The equality of women is even downgraded in the Church that prides itself on being the true way to follow the teachings of Jesus.
What is it that people say? Ah yes; “Jesus wept”.