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No. 1, 2005
Cover by
Akiko Yoshimura of
Student YMCA of Japan
Editorial Team:
Rev. Shin Seung Min
Ms. Wong Yock Leng
Ms. Wong Yick Ching

Praxis

Issue No. 1, January–April 2005

 

Contents:

 

Editorial  •  Perspective  •  Women Space  •  Solidarity

Editorial:

It has been a great joy for me to work with the WSCF Asia-Pacific region for the last 7 years and 4 months. The vision and hope of the Federation has introduced me to an entirely new world where students and youth are seeking for truth and justice with a strong ecumenical commitment. Even though the Federation has faced serious challenges and difficulties in terms of finance and leadership, it should not be forgotten that the Federation has never lost its vision and hope for a new heaven and new earth, and struggled with people to transform the churches, societies and academic communities. As I reflect all my years with the Federation, I am really proud of being a family member of the Federation. 

The WSCF, in particular, and the ecumenical movement in general are experiencing a turning point in their existence. Nowadays many people in the ecumenical circles agree that the ecumenical movement is situated in a critical moment towards a radical transformation. Then, how can we transform/reconfigure it? I think the answer to this question is not easy. But I would like to highlight three critical points in the discourse of the transformation/reconfiguration of the ecumenical movement. First, we should go back to the root of our faith and listen to what God requests us to do, reflecting what the Reign of God means to us all who are living in an extremely unjust world of globalisation. “Going back to the root” enables us to read the signs of the time and transform the world. Second, a sincere metanoia should be a starting point of our transformation process. This metanoia empowers us to transform and move to the new kairotic era of the ecumenical movement. Third, we should revive the spirit of glass-root ecumenism, that is, “ecumenical movement from bottom”, and empower the marginalised groups in the churches such as women, lay, Minjung, Dalit, students and youth. I am sure that the Federation can plan a critical role in empowering the youth and student leadership.

In this issue, we reflected on the women’s issue from various perspectives. Chang Hee Won from Korea SCM contributed to the Perspective revisiting the issue of “Women and Globalisation”, and the experience of migrant women workers in the era of Globalisation written by senior friend of GMKI, Mona Saroinsong. In Solidarity, there is a highlight on the treatment experienced by women in the tsunami affected countries. You will also find a biblical reflection on the need to challenge the silent role of women in the church and urge to listen to the voices of women.

Finally, as I wrote the last editorial as regional secretary, I would like to express my gratitude to all Praxis readers for your prayers and continuous support for the student ministry in the Asia-Pacific region. I believe that we will continue to move forward together to open up a new history for the grass-root ecumenism. 

Shin Seung Min
Regional Secretary

 

Editorial  •  Perspective  •  Women Space  •  Solidarity

Perspective:

Globalisation: Asian Women’s Experience

by Chang Hee Won
Hee Won hails from Korea SCM and is a keen activist on the issues of Peace and Justice. She has just completed her Masters’ degree in International Politics and Security Studies in the Bradford University in UK

Globalisation: opening up

Globalisation, an ideology has become an unstoppable process that is shaping our society, economy, culture, politics and also our way of thinking. Globalisation has opened up boundaries between nations, enabled free flow of people, information, investment and trade and created networks among people, business, countries, social movements and civil society.

Many people benefit from globalisation, the world has become smaller through high technology for instance, mobile phones, e-mails, Internet, and similar cultures through traveling, Hollywood movies, fast-food chains, clothing brands and so on. In economy it has created new jobs and investments throughout the globe. The social movements itself; anti-globalisation movement and anti-war movement have become a global trend as well. These two very big movements would not have become a ‘global’ movement if it wasn’t for ‘globalisation’. Globalisation has enabled people to come together and create an arena for people to oppose and criticize in solidarity the unjust structural violence that is affecting them and others as well.

However, there is the abnormal side of globalisation: it has become deformed, something beyond control and threatening, this is what we call ‘neo-liberal globalisation’. Neo-liberal globalisation is led by neo-liberal market policies and by the Bretton Woods Institution; International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB). They are also famously known for implementing Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs), nearly every country in Asia, Africa and Latin America has gone through this programme or are undergoing. Also, World Trade Organization (WTO) advocates ‘free trade’ and it is easily heard in the news that some countries are signing over ‘free trade agreements’. But there are set of rules and regulations to follow if you want to compete in the world economy. The ideas behind this neo-liberal thinking is that for an economy to flourish, the market has to be allowed to move freely, the role of the government is limited and a ‘hidden hand’ will take care of itself; market can correct itself on its own. The word ‘free’ and ‘liberal’ sounds very attractive, why not? It’s something that the entire humankind has been fighting for since the history itself! However, ‘freeing and liberating’ on the other side of the end is ‘restraining and occupation’. So we need to critically look at who advocates for neo-liberal policies, who makes up the rules and regulations and who controls? Then we will get an answer and are able to see clearly how neo-liberal globalisation works.

Undoubtedly, globalisation is a dominant social paradigm that has its say in everything and everyway hence it came to be perceived as something that is beyond human control. The problem with globalisation is that only the 20% is benefiting from this process the other 80% is simply caught up and have no say. So, leaving aside different opinions on globalisation, if you are able to read this article, have been abroad, attended international meetings or demonstrations, have an e-mail account or mobile phone, know how to use the internet and many other aspects, then you belong to the 20% including myself. We all go through a rather different experience in the process of globalisation. Here we will look at the experience of Asian women in the force of globalisation. The experience of Asian women cannot be generalised, for every woman is affected differently based on their region, country, gender, class, religion, ethnicity, age, ideology and sexual preference.[1] However we will try to catch at least a glimpse of changing lives of Asian women in globalisation. When we look at the lives of Asian women in globalisation we need to look beyond the surface of ‘what is happening’ hence we should put in mind the rooted problems of patriarchy, violence against women (militarism) and discrimination of women and how all of this is interlinked with Asian women’s lives and how globalisation has effected; liberated or reinforced.

Asian women’s Experience

There are around 1.3 billion people living in extreme poverty and women take up 70%. Asia is said to be the highest in numbers so it can be said that the most marginalised are women of Asia. Asian women do not suffer from poverty alone they have to struggle through the already existing discrimination and other forms of hardship that globalisation has brought. Globalisation advocates that poverty will be reduced through the economic growth. Therefore, some say that Asian woman’s lives have benefited from the globalisation process, that it has helped women in need and also eliminated discrimination against women. According to United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific (UNESCAP)[2];

To some extent globalisation has helped Asian women as stated above but it is only a minority that really benefits. They say that the rapid economic growth in North-East Asia has helped in eliminating poverty and helped women in equal rights and furthered a step into the global era. However as we look at women in South Korea, Japan and Taiwan, countries where it is recognised as having stable economy’; most women work on irregular conditions, such as part-time, contract workers and dispatch workers. In South Korea, the situation deteriorated after the 1997 financial crisis where 70% of women worked as irregular workers. Also women were the first to be fired. In most of South East Asia, women work in dire conditions employed by multinational companies. It is not difficult to find sweatshops in this region where women are under-paid and violated. Women’s labour force is purchased in a cheap price and justified on the grounds that women were provided with work. Hence, globalisation is not creating jobs for women, it is exploiting women’s struggle for survival.

Globalisation has enabled ‘free flow of people’ and it gives us an image of people in their suits with laptop computers and business suitcase busily going around the world through air flights and fast transportation. However what is it in reality for Asian women? The term ‘free flow of people’ in other words is migration and trafficking of women. Nearly 1 billion people are crossing boarders in order to find a job for a better living, and of these 1 billion, 13 million are from Asia, and 72% are told to be women.[3] Most of it is for domestic labour or farm labour. They have to put up with long hours of work, low pay and abuse. They have to put up with racism and sexual violence. The biggest problem is nevertheless the sexual exploitation of Asian women through trafficking. Globalisation has accelerated sex industry and sex trafficking of women. Trafficking comes in several forms, through mail order-brides, entertainers, kidnapping, job ads and etc. All share the same logic of simply selecting and buying young girls and women for sexual pleasure. This is co-linked with patriarchy-militarism and poverty. These Asian women become vulnerable and targets for sexual violence, their rights totally violated.

The SAPs implemented in Asian countries are making it harder for women to survive. Through SAPs the role of the government lessens, privatisation takes place and social welfare budgets reduced. The people have nowhere to turn to. Also because of the heavy debts the countries pay there is no money left for reinvestment for its people. Hence the vicious circle of poverty goes around. It is no wonder that SAPs are regarded as death sentence. Therefore many Asian women are driven to sustain themselves and the family through going abroad as domestic workers or trafficked into sexual industry. Globalisation has also deepened inequality among Asian women. Asian women are divided by class by the standards inside their country and also by the status of the country. 

Closing

The experience of Asian women going through globalisation is truly diverse, some benefit, some struggle to live. Hence the problem rises on how we can take a step forward in unity. How can we go beyond the differences we all have and come together? Asian women everyday are struggling and surviving the many hardships that they are facing. The important point is that we need to be critically aware of the conditions that construct many Asian women’s lives. It has to start from myself and my surroundings. We need to be an open eye and bear in mind that my benefit can be someone’s exploitation. As we have seen the current globalisation, is structural violence for many Asian women. It does not liberate the lives of Asian women, it oppresses and abuses. Patriarchy-violence against women (militarism) is being strengthened and reinforced by globalisation. We say that globalisation is beyond the hands of human, but if it was not us, then who created such a thing. Globalisation can be transformed and controlled by us through humanising it. It should be a process that everybody benefits. To do so we need to listen to the voices of the Asian women, we need to engender it and add the perspective of the most oppressed women.

 

Notes:
  1. Cecilia Ng, ‘Globalization and Women’, FOCUS ON WOMEN, Nov 22,2000 www.ased.org/artman/publish/printer_285.shtml
  2. Taken from UNESCAP, for more information on globalization and Asian women look at www.unescap.org/esid/GAD/Issues?Globalization/index.asp
  3. From ‘Women & The Economy - Globalization & Migration’ http://unpac.ca/economy/g_migration.html

 

Perspective:

The Rights and Needs of Women Migrant Workers

by Mona Saroinsong
Senior friend of GMKI (SCM Indonesia), and very much involved in the work on Women Migrant Workers. This article focuses on the Indonesian Women Migrant Workers. This article was written in St. Gallen, Switzerland, 14 February 2005, in celebrating women’s love to the world.

A WOMAN, THAT IS I AM

I am is I am…. Alive but not alive.
Flowers bloom around me, I could see, but can’t smell them.

I am is I am, Exist but not exist.
Sun shines, I could feel but can’t enjoy it.

I am is I am…, Breathing but not inhale.
Wind blows, It touches me but not comforting.

I am is I am,
Alive but not for me
Alive but not recognised
Living to be controlled and determined.
Living to carry the burden.
Living to work for family to live
Living for mother, father and for my siblings to survive
Being scolded and blamed are my daily routine
Humiliation and being beaten by my employer are my daily meal
Being marginalised by my own people is my normal life

I am is I am, alive but not live because I am a WOMAN
… and more A WOMAN MIGRANT WORKER!!

Foreword

I’d like to start this article by quoting this:

In the recent decades, the world’s women have made huge strides towards achieving equality with men, and each year, International Women’s Day helped to highlight their accomplishments and focus on existing problems and continuing equalities, but sadly, as we look at the world situation of today, women still represent a striking majority among those who are most exposed to inequality and injustice. They constitute 70 per cent of the world’s poor, they are a vast majority of the world’s illiterate adults and they suffer the most from different forms of violence. Their plight is particularly tragic in societies torn apart by conflict and crisis, where women and girls are usually among the first to become victims of strife. Today, however, it should be matched with an equally strong action in all areas of critical concern to women’s advancement, including such vital issues as poverty, education, health, violence against women, and women’s participation in economic and political life. – (UN Press Release, GA/SM/34, WOM/1042, 19980306)

That Press release was already issued in 1998, but up to now it is still disturbing me so much seeing the reality and reading reports on women’s development all over the world, because whatever it comes out, despite of the recognition of the specific rights of women, in particular on women migrant workers in various International Treaties and Convention, most women all over the world still experienced as what expressed in the above poem. It is so because the governments in Asia-Pacific countries continue to neglect in adopting national legal measures that give full protection to rights of women in more specific women migrants and which address ongoing situations of exploitation, violence and abuse. 

I think it is important to listen and to pay attention carefully to what Mahbub ul Haq said in his UN 1995 Report: “Economic growth is necessary for human development,” he says. “But the purpose of development is to help people live longer, more productive and more fulfilling lives. This simple but powerful truth is too often forgotten in the pursuit of material and financial wealth. Economic growth that does not put people at its centre is development without a soul. Do people participate in economic growth as well as benefit from it? Are human choices enlarged or narrowed by new technologies? Is economic expansion leading to job-led or job-less growth? Are budgets being balanced without unbalancing the lives of people?”

Further on he said: “There is an unwitting conspiracy on a global scale to undervalue women’s work and contributions to society. In virtually every country of the world, women work longer hours than men, yet share less in the economic rewards. If women’s work were accurately reflected in national statistics, it would shatter the myth that men are the main breadwinners of the world”.

Women Situation and Condition in Indonesia 

In the eyes of Indonesian law, women have the same rights to men, but in practice it shows that women are still seen, considered and treated as a compliment to men, although once Indonesia was lead by the very first woman president, Megawati Soekarno Putri.

Everywhere in Indonesia, women being abused and exploited in all aspects of life, so I think it is important to make link between violence against women and their social and economic rights, because Indonesian women faced additional restrictions derived from systematic discrimination, and implicit, non-written rules imposed by society and by family members. 

Women Migrant Workers in Indonesia

One of the many obvious examples of violence against women is the existence of Indonesian women migrant workers. For the nation’s economy contribution, Indonesian women migrant workers are not counted. Their contribution to economic and social life is invisible and hence ignored, because their work is not reflected in national statistic. They are invisible, but their contribution into the society is needed badly. 

According to one of Human Development reports, ‘women work longer hours than men in nearly every country. Of the total burden of paid and unpaid work, women bear an average of 53% in developing countries and 51% in industrial countries’. This condition absolutely applies and suits to Indonesia. 

The male dominant culture all over Indonesia helps to make Indonesian law on women migrant workers do not address the very sensitive and the importance of women’s concerns, but in fact it even just views women migrant workers’ rights through men’s eyes. Specific women’s issues were lost in the process. Women migrant worker’s rights is placed on the agenda implicitly only, and that makes Indonesia as the resource of women migrant workers, not pro active in the debate to overcome violence against its women migrant workers all over the world, in particular the ones in Arabic countries, Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong. 

In one report it says that throughout 2001 there were many violence against Indonesian migrant workers rights cases to 2,239,566 Indonesian migrant workers (Tempo Interaktif, 2004), and most victims are women migrant workers. 

Discrimination to Indonesian women migrant workers take place everywhere: in their own nation, Indonesia, they are treated as second class citizens, in other countries, they are treated as slaves and receive low wages compare to men migrant workers. All of these happened for many reasons:

  1. Indonesia has no specific law or policy to protect its migrant workers
  2. Women migrant workers are not well equipped enough with the skill needed for their work
  3. They are poor of knowledge on their rights
  4. Most of Indonesian migrant workers are coming from villages, and that working abroad is one of the last choice because of the lack of work placements and low wages in Indonesia, and that make them fragile to violence, sexual abuses, even rapes and murders
  5. Lastly but not less important is, the Indonesian government is so ignorant on the issue of migrant workers especially for the women. They are not seen as one of the contributors towards Indonesian economic growth.

(Compare these to Indonesian neighboring country: the Philippines) 

So what to do to lessen the problem?

I think the most important thing for Indonesian government to do are: 

  1. To recognise the existence of its migrant workers, specifically the women ones,
  2. Then definitely it has to be followed with written law/policy to protect the migrant workers’ rights and seriously control the roles of the agencies which send workers abroad
  3. To admit explicitly that the migrant workers contribute something towards Indonesian economic growth,
  4. It should not stop there only, but the government has to take pro active action when there are cases on violence against its migrant workers,
  5. While at the same time, a serious evaluation has to be taken on policy of the working destination countries.

On the other side, the migrant workers themselves have to be more aware and pro active in preparing themselves with skills needed for their work and they have to fight for their rights progressively. 

All of these have to be taken into consideration seriously by all parties because as the 1995 Human Development Report said: “This undervaluation of women’s work not only undermines women’s purchasing power, but it also reduces women’s already low social status in many countries” 

Indonesian government is entitled to equip its migrant workers especially the women because they are most fragile in all aspects compare to men, before letting them go to work abroad, for “Investing in women’s capabilities and empowering them to exercise their choices is not only valuable in itself, it is also the surest way to contribute to economic growth and overall development,” (James Gustave Speth, UNDP Administrator) 

Hope for the Future

I strongly believe that a combination of economic and social factors, as well as the implicit image of girls and boys, which had led most parents in Indonesia to the paradigm of giving the priority of education to their sons, has to be changed, and that government has to play a serious leading role to eliminate this non constructive stigmatisation. 

I’d like to close this article by again quoting the 1998 UN report:

“All legal and regulatory frameworks have to be changed in order to promote real equality in the relation of [humankind]. Women must set themselves free by changing their awareness and self-image, by knowing their rights and claiming those rights. Men needed to perceive the benefit of gender equality as well, leading to the creation of a society that was less violent. Women’s human rights could not flourish without the creation of an enabling environment”. (UN Report, 5 March 1998 Press Release OBV/37, WOM/1039)

 

Editorial  •  Perspective  •  Women Space  •  Solidarity

Women Space:

A Faith Reflection on the Theme:

Women Reclaiming the Power of Voice and Speech

by Dr. Evangeline Anderson-Rajkumar
Evangeline is very supportive senior friend of SCM India as well as WSCF AP. She is an Associate Professor of the Women Studies Department at the UTC in Bangalore, India, and also the President of the Association of Theologically Trained Women of India.

‘Speech is silver, silence is gold’. This is a proverb that was often quoted by my teacher when I was in primary school. She would continue: A ‘good girl’ does not laugh or talk aloud, one who is seen and not heard…Silence was thus projected as a value and mark of a virtuous woman. What we need to realise is that silence is not just projected as a value and a virtue but it is a condition imposed on a woman by denying her the power of speech, by devaluing her speech, discrediting her voice even before she has spoken, restricting the validity of her speech to a specific space and time and defining what is Voice and Speech by ascribing differential authority to that voice.

In a patriarchal society, we find different manifestations of power and control over a woman’s voice. A woman’s witness is counted as only half a witness of that of a man according to Islamic laws. Women have no voting right in many churches. One of the aspects of denying woman the right to ordained ministry is to say that women have no power to utter the words of institution. Nothing “changes” when a woman utters a word!? Many women in Indian context would not refer to their husbands by name out of respect, because of tradition and culture, because it is also indicated as dangerous. A Hindu woman is told that each time she utters the name of her husband, his life span would reduce by a day! Since her identity in society as an auspicious married woman is dependent on her marital status, the woman continues to call her husband as “Ennanga” (which is literally an attempt to draw the attention of a person and not a special name!!!). Proverbs, jokes, stories are prevalent in every culture to devalue the voice and speech of the woman as chatter and gossip. The few occasions when a woman’s voice is credited with authority and power is when she is possessed by a “spirit.” At that time, the people accept whatever she says as “God” speaking through the woman.

In the Bible too, we read of instances/references where the woman’s voice and speech is discredited, disallowed, denied and devalued. In Numbers 30, we read of how a vow is rendered valid or invalid depending on whether it is a man or a woman who makes the vow. In Numbers 12, we read how Miriam and Aaron question Moses’ authority saying: “Did God speak only through you Moses?” and Miriam alone gets punished with leprosy for challenging authority. In the New Testament too, we read how the message of resurrection is put into the mouth of Peter (I Cor. 15:3-5) instead of Mary Magdalene (according to the Gospels). While Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ is followed by awards, rewards and praises galore, we do not read of such an overwhelming acknowledgment when Martha confesses that Jesus is the Messiah in John ch. 11. While God seems to hear the anguished silence of Abraham while preparing to sacrifice Isaac and opened Abraham’s eyes to see a goat as substitute, God seems not to have heard the anguished innocent silence of Jephthah’s daughter! Stories of violence, silence and discrimination pass off as normal narration of history. It is within such a context that we are called to look at the Bible and raise critical questions that challenge our faith, reason and understanding. 

I have chosen the text of Numbers 27:1-11 which is the story of the daughters of Zelophead. It is indeed remarkable that the five daughters’ names are remembered, given the reality of the patriarchal context where the identity of many women are described as someone’s mother, daughter, daughter-in-law, wife, concubine, sister and so on. We may raise some preliminary questions like: Would the daughters have gone seeking for a portion of land for themselves if they had a brother or if their father was not dead? How can we look at Numbers 27 and Numbers 36 together with regard to what Moses commands the daughters? In Numb. 27, Moses directly asks/challenges God before the people, whereas in Num. 36, Moses does not seek God’s opinion whether the daughters have to marry within their own tribe, but orders them to do so following a private conversation with the men of the tribe of Manasseh.

I would like to look at the text Numbers 27:1-11 as basically a text that challenges the patriarchal structures of that time. Here below are the few challenges that I see:

Challenge of Space

Genderising space is one of the characteristic elements of a patriarchal society. A kitchen, for example, is often marked as a “woman’s” space within the home. Home itself is a private space as compared to the outer world—the public space, and woman is often confined to the home, in the name of tradition, culture, protection, safety and security. In the text, we see that the five daughters challenge the genderisation of space and come of the home to the tent of meeting which is a “banned space” for a woman. The ideology of ‘purity-pollution’ plays a major role in legitimising the banning of women from the “sacred” space.

Challenge of Authority

The five sisters perhaps had heard of the “punishment” given to Miriam for challenging the authority of Moses (Num. 12), but this apparently did not deter them from challenging Moses, the symbol of highest authority next to God. I believe that it was not for the love of defying the law but taking the experience—of feeling discriminated, denied and alienated—seriously, as something that should be challenged. Authority that is used to keep people bound within structures of oppression is often imagined to be a permanent bond but it is precisely such abusive authority that is to be critically challenged. The five sisters do engage in the task of challenging authority. 

Challenge of Silence

Silence is not a virtue for the women, especially when it confines them to limited social roles, defines their subjectivity and identity, spells out the social expectations and values that mark the women as gullible, forgiving, patient, enduring, sacrificing and so on. The women did not stay indoors but came out into the open and broke their silence. In fact, they brought to public discourse what they had started as private conversation of sharing stories and experiences of pain, alienation and denial. This is once again a lesson for us to realise that sisterhood, networking and being part of movements is very important to carry further the questions that challenge injustice. Radical change will not occur if there is an imposed culturally conditioned silence. Breaking forth into speech, hearing our own voice, sharing with one another—all these are marked stages in the process of gender awareness and Leadership training.

Challenge of Laws

The five sisters follow a strategy in challenging the law that was given by God through Moses. Even though we can raise a question as to whether the five sisters would have come to Moses to plead for equal right of inheriting property if their father had been alive or if they had a brother, what I see is a clear motive for justice. It is important to note that laws and rules are made by the powerful to keep the powerless dependent and subordinate. The quest for liberation begins when we see the link between power, control and identity. When God has created woman and man in God’s own image, why should the social structures and powers deny the woman of her right to voice and speech? How can laws be reframed within a new inclusive non-patriarchal framework? How can empowerment of human beings become a reality if there was no possibility to challenge the authority of Laws?

Challenge of the mode of communication

Moses perhaps was shocked when the five sisters demanded that they be also given a share in the land. Perhaps Moses believed that patriarchy was a ‘divine normative pattern’ in the society. Moses immediately turns to God with the question of land for the daughters and he is surprised by God’s answer naming that what the daughters asked was right. This message/mandate is yet to become a reality in our society. We see that Moses who was keen on putting the question of the five daughters of Zelophead to God does not follow the same pattern when men of the tribe come and complain privately to Moses about giving the women a share in the land. (Num. 36) They demand that the women should choose their husbands from within the tribe itself so that the property does not disappear. There are no questions raised as to why the land should be assumed to go away to other tribes if women had their own identity and right to own land in their own names? Thus the women, the five daughters of Zelophead challenge also the mode of communication. They are not satisfied with private conversations within the home concerning their experience of depravity and injustice and followed strategies to pursue their goal of justice. 

We have stories/texts like Numbers 27 which capture for us, those strands of voices for justice and equality. Women need to reclaim the power of their voice and speech. First of all, they need to unlearn some myths that silence is a virtue for women. We have lived in the culture of silence for ages and it is difficult to come out of it, overnight. Jesus stands at the center of our Christian faith and shows how he affirmed women, their faith and their ministry. The pattern of relationship between women and men in Jesus’ community was an egalitarian one. That Mary was chosen to be the apostle to apostles to proclaim the message of resurrection underlines the fact that Jesus affirmed the voice and speech of women. We need to reclaim and restore the power of voice and speech, that which was given by God as a gift to humanity. AMEN. 

Questions for group discussion

  1. How do we challenge abusive authority in our church and society?
  2. How do we envision the future of our church and society in terms of equal participation of women and men?
  3. How shall we plan our strategies together to build equal partnership between women and men?

 

Women Space:

A Poem

The Calling

by John C. England
John has been a long time friend of WSCF AP. He and his wife, Rita, are still very much involved in SCM Aotearoa, and all of us deeply treasured their camaraderie and unwavering support throughout these years. John has helped WSCF AP as a resource person in the then leadership formation programme, Asian Secretaries Formation (ASFOR) in 1978, and has contributed a very engaging article entitled “Liberating Education” which proves to be as useful as then and as now.

Now the distant paths are beckoning and the wind blows where it will
now the Spirit sends her mystery again
and we must leave and find the headlands
where companions work and sing and hope for justice, peace, that surely come.

So for one the simple schoolroom where the river meets the sea;
one walks with refugees to find their space;
for one the women’s movements to establish equal rights
and for one the work of village self-support;
for one the run-down clinics where disabled reach for life
for some the writing, lobbying, for those hounded, ‘prisoned, starved,
and for one the songs when villagers hold their land;
for one the careful search uniting family members lost
and for some the long campaign to challenge wealth;
for one persistent advocacy for poor workers victimized
and for one the team restoring people’s hope;
.... and some shape old/new wisdom for the struggle and the pain
to rebuild power to shape one’s common life.

It is there that I am going with companions that I know,
for the distant paths are beckoning and the wind blows where it will
now the Spirit sends her mystery again
and we must leave and find the headlands
where companions work and sing and hope for justice, peace, that surely come.

Who has seen the huts and homes returning
where but now was flood, fire, bomb?
who has seen the food-bowls fill and field rows slowly green
so that harvest comes and in the sharing grows?
who has seen the wells re-opened and clear water dance to smiles,
seen the hands together building sanctuaries all can use?
who can see new fellowships that go against the stream
the companies of pilgrims making peace?
.....and who can see the coming time when social good assesses all
and people’s hopes and struggles signpost love?

It is there that I am going with companions that I know,
for the distant paths are beckoning and the wind blows where it will
now the Spirit sends her mystery again
and we must leave and find the headlands
where companions work and sing and hope for justice, peace that surely come.

Let him follow with the others
let her seek the depths and heights
let us each find others dancing at the feast.
Do you know the tears of villagers as they find again their homes,
or families share again a daily meal?
Do you know the streets and doorways where the friends of peace confer, join to struggle for new justice for the poor?
Do you know the distant towns
where companions wait your hands?
and the frontiers where life begins again?
.... and do you know the healing passion that lifelong lovers know
and find within it strength to work and hope?

It is there that I am going with the friend of my delight,
for the distant paths are beckoning and the wind blows where it will
now the Spirit sends her mystery again
and we must leave and find the headlands
where companions work and sing and hope for justice, peace, that surely come.

 

Editorial  •  Perspective  •  Women Space  •  Solidarity

Solidarity:

Women’s Groups appeal for an inclusive framework for disaster response
SRI LANKA

A collective of women’s rights groups who have conducted a series of fact-finding missions in the tsunami-affected areas over the past week wishes to bring to public attention serious issues concerning the safety and wellbeing of women which have not been addressed so far in relief efforts. We appreciate the many public initiatives to collect and deliver relief and assist those affected by the tsunami in whatever ways are possible. However, our observations indicate that these efforts need to be refocused to ensure that those who have suffered as a consequence of the tsunami are not subjected to further violence and abuse by unscrupulous persons.

The heightened vulnerability of people in these areas due to the destruction of communication lines and the large-scale mass displacement and death of people has created situations in which women and girls become more likely to encounter violence. 

Women’s groups throughout the island are committed to extend their fullest support to both state and non-state structures that will work for the provision of immediate relief as well as for medium and long-term reconstruction and rehabilitation of all those people of Sri Lanka who have been affected by the tsunami in the framework of sustainable development and a lasting and just peace.

MOTHERS AND DAUGHTERS OF LANKA
SRI LANKA WOMEN’S NGO FORUM
WOMEN’S ALLIANCE FOR PEACE
WOMEN’S ALLIANCE FOR PEACE AND DEMOCRACY
ACTION NETWORK FOR MIGRANT WORKERS

1 January 2005