Friday, August 24, 2007

World Vision and Gender Equity

All churches who teach the unilateral submission of women to men are undermining the efforts of World Vision around the world. World Vision recommends the following,
  • Create programmes and raise awareness among men and women to acknowledge and alleviate the burdens of women’s triple role in their home, workplace, and community, and promote women’s equal participation in decision-making.
  • Enhance the social support system to enable women to work outside of the home by providing free/subsidised and good quality day-care centres for infants and elders.
  • Governmental and international agencies, NGOs, employers, and trade unions must ensure equal rights and equal pay for all women.
  • Women in leadership must be encouraged to build their capacity, confidence, assertiveness, and leadership skills while increasing the number of female staff who serve as role models. At the same time, men must be made aware of the shared benefits of gender equality, enabling them to relate to and work positively with empowered women.
  • Furthermore, World Vision suggests partnership with social institutions such as churches, council of elders, community leaders and other sources of influence to remove barriers that prevent women from full participation.
  • Educate men and women on shared gender roles that allow familial and social equity leading to households and societies where both genders have equal opportunities and access to resources and decision making.
You might read this paper and be glad that you don't live under the conditions described within. Yes, but considering the comparative prosperity of North America, women still suffer from a shocking amount of violence and discrimination. Since this is the same within the Christian community as outside it, it is time for the church as a whole to make a stand against the denial of equal decision-making power to women around the world.

My sense is that a patriarchal culture within some parts of the church is fighting against the goals of World Vision. Let's pull together on this and better the lives of women and children here and around the world.


Matthew Celestine said...

I am not sure World Vision is an organisation I would necessarilly support, but I am sure they do some good work.

I do not think Evangelicals appreciate the contextual difficulties in importing their gener assumptions.

The big problem with the conservative Evangelical discourse on gender is the fact that it ignores or marginalizes violence against women. There is an operative assumption that violence against women is sub-normal and therefore can be excluded from the discourse of male-female relations.

A friend of mine was a missionary in Albania. He once overheard to men talking about him:

Man 1: Do you think that missionary, Andrew, beats his wife?

Man 2: Of course he does, every man beats his wife!

The big question is; in a situation where male to female violence is normalised and accepted, how does the Biblical Manhood and Womanhood message come across? Does it not justify and re-inforce male to female violence in the absence of any adequate repression of such assumptions?

Advocates of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood really need to do some hard thinking.

Every Blessing in Christ


Suzanne McCarthy said...


There is no society where domestic violence is not, to some extent, normalized. It is very hard to get statistics but they range from one in ten to one in five marriages, whether Christian or not. This is in North America.

The cause it usually a combination, but includes a belief in male entitlement.

There is no excuse for any society to support the unilateral submission of one partner. It is a power imbalance and leads to unmeasured grief, deprivation of people entering into full spiritual maturity on both sides. What purpose can God have in teaching that relations between Christians, as brother and sister, are reciprocal, but between husband and wife they are in a relationship of authority and submission.

Either that is abandoned quietly or there is no intimacy. My parents were old time Brethren and my Mom stayed home and cared for her 8 children. Submission never entered into it. She made many decisions on her own, they made decisions together, he made some and so on. This was never a problem. They lived in equitable peace.

When guests came over my Mom was often the one who discussed the scriptures with them, along with my Dad, equally. There was no hierarchy. They were intellectual and functional equals.