02 May, 2009

Women in Poverty

I was at a presentation the other night for someone who runs an organization in Cambodia. It was during Q&A and at one point the presenter said that until gender and roles of gender and equality of gender gets worked out there will be continue to be inequality and women will continue to be disproportionally abused... Until we can get back to a Biblical view of gender things will always be skewed and wrong.

His company is trying to expand to Afghanistan, and as I have posted recently, the country is far from women friendly. Women are continually treated as property, denied access to education, health care, basic freedoms, protection.

And The Congo, where the systematic rape of women is a weapon of war. Where raped women are treated with disdain and cut off from their family, community, and medical care. Where young women become sex slaves in the LRA and there will never be justice for any of these crimes...

It is the women who are left behind in the camps, who stay behind with the kids, who are forced to face what may come while the men go off to make war. Or are used to service those men because they can be.

Doctors Without Borders gives us this inside look at a house in a refugee camp.

There are a couple quotes buzzing around my head at the moment:

"Love is being willing to value people and unwilling to devalue the" (Everett Worthington Jr.)

"When I dehumanize you, I, inexorably dehumanize myself" (Desmond Tutu)

What if we lived as if every person mattered - and not only that, but that every person mattered regardless of gender, race, economic standing, religion, mental facilities, or whatever else we use to separate ourselves?

I have this grand vision of friends sitting at a table, but instead of being people who look like us - it's a collage of people, and the discomfort of the "other" is gone, because there is no other. It's literally the lion sitting with the lamb.

I return again and again to the banquet story in the New Testament where the servants go into the streets and invite whoever they could find. I've always wanted to do that - to prepare a grand feast with no expense spared and to go out and invite whoever in the community was around - the homeless, the rich, the tourist, those for NW, SE - regardless of who we found they would be invited. And to see if some harmony could, if even for a moment, be found.

The point - people matter. Women matter. Little girls (and boys) matter. And instead of leaving them exploited, used - and allowing any of them to be abused one more day, one more moment, people rose up to say enough and cared enough to intervene and demand change.

Until gender inequality can be addressed and restored there will continue to be egregious injustice...