Happy International Women’s Day!
This morning I posted the following statement on Facebook: “When they question the idea of empowering women I question men on why they are so threatened by the idea of empowered women.” It caused some conversation to develop. 🙂
Let me clarify:
Maybe you have other reactions, but here are 5 things I think of when I think of “Empowering Women.”
1) First of all, I think I made a misstatement It’s not just “men” who I question. Some women question the idea of empowering women as well, and likewise I question them back on why they are threatened by the idea. “Giving more power to women” in a variety of ways has nothing to do with any “biblical” approach, I should say. Many people just plain don’t like the idea of women having more power in any realm (politics, education, family, legal, economic, etc.) This is much bigger than just religion and “women in ministry.” When I think of “empowering women” (meaning, giving more power to women, in a variety of forms) I am reminded of so many people who find that idea fundamentally threatening and off-putting to them. It is dismissed out of hand by some, and mocked by others, with a not-too-subtle misogyny exposing itself. I find that hard to stomach.
2) More importantly, when I think of empowering women I think of Ricky’s mother who I met in Siamazilla, Zambia. Ricky’s mom has AIDS, and so does his sister. Her husband contracted AIDS and passed it on to them. We sponsor her son through Hope for Children. I met the whole family, and laid hands on her family to pray for hope and healing. I want to empower this woman, and in fact we do, beyond the sponsorship. She is empowered to be on the leadership team in her community because the Wesleyan church in her village created a new organization to meet these needs, and she is on the leadership of that—superseding the male-dominated tribal culture that is in fact often times propagating these kinds of cyclical cultural evils.
3) When I think of empowering women I think of my daughters who are 9 and 7 years old. They have many dreams for their lives, and they are far more privileged than Ricky and his sister for sure. However, my daughters are born in to a world where women give birth to 100% of the children and do 66% of the work, but where women only make 10% of the money and only own 1% of the property. Inequities abound. I don’t want the dreams and callings of my own daughters to be limited. And so when I think of empowering women I think of empowering my daughters with the same magnitude and energy that I empower my son (and perhaps even a little more to make up for the head start he’ll get for being male.
4) When I think of empowering women I think of Rose, who is the pastor of the church in Siamazilla, Zambia. Because the church in her community is Wesleyan, she is able to pursue her calling to preach the gospel and lead a church. I was able to hear her speak briefly, and while I didn’t speak her language, I could tell that she spoke to her people with spiritual power, compassion, & authority. When I think of empowering women I think of Pastor Rose
5) If you’re wondering how to engage, I encourage connection with World Hope International, as I’ve personally seen them successfully empowering women to escape human trafficking and also working with microeconomic models and empowering their leadership through helping orphans and vulnerable children in Africa, including the above stories. Many other organizations I might mention are good–but the people at WHI are people I trust and know personally, and they have worked in these arenas for a good long time. When I think of empowering women, I think of World Hope.
I remember walking two miles with Ricky and his sister back to the Church in Siamazilla where I heard Rose speak and we all ate a great meal together in the village. I remember holding Ricky’s hand on the left and his sisters on the right. And I remember praying that the daughters of Africa, and all daughters everywhere, would have a better future.
So, that’s what I think about when I think of empowering women. How about you, what do you think when someone talks about “Empowering Women”?