I’m back to writing. Kind of. I actually wrote this post quite a while ago, but only getting around to publishing it now. But here it is. I’ll try and write a more cohesive update sometime soon.
Jesus made a feminist out of me. When I see his love displayed at the cross and the way he loved women like we’ve never been loved before, all I want to do is make sure all women, everywhere, know they are loved and valued. I want all men to see that Jesus doesn’t discriminate or prioritize – his mercy and grace are on offer to all people, all times, places, races, genders.
Being a Jesus feminist, or a Christian feminist, or an advocate for gender equality – whatever term or phrase you prefer – is an important task, as there are still so many barriers facing women, even here in the privileged western world. But so often when I am thinking about the challenges I face, the issues affecting women like me, I forget the wider perspective.
I forget there are women from different racial and social backgrounds living here in my own country where their gender impacts their freedom much more significantly. I forget that many women don’t have the choices I do. I forget that in many countries, basic healthcare and education are still out of reach. Never mind equal pay, there are women working as slaves or indented labourers, and the things they make end up on the shelves in my local shops. I was so caught up in the arguments of who can preach, or teach or lead or serve, I forgot that my sisters in Christ are sometimes denied even the chance to read the bible for themselves.
I don’t want to downplay the very real discrimination and harassment women are facing in all countries. But it’s easy for me to forget that others don’t experience the world the way I do, and that my own concerns aren’t always the most pressing issue. So I am resolved to be a Global Feminist – a feminist for all women, everywhere.
Do you feel overwhelmed by it all? I do. There are so many issues facing women – it can be exhausting. There’s so many battles to fight – how do I choose? But what brings me back to these issues, to caring about women worldwide, is the cross of Jesus. He saved those who couldn’t save themselves. He gave us his life to restore everything that is broken in this world. When we have been shown such grace and mercy, how else are we to respond? God has shown us how much he values justice, and how far he will go to set things right.
To participate in his redeeming work, we must make room in our feminism for a global perspective. We must start looking beyond our own circumstances and show that in this fight for equality, we stand with all women, in all times and places. Don’t feel overwhelmed – you’re not alone in this pursuit. There’s two key areas where you can dog things, right now, to start being a Global Feminist.
Over the last few years I’ve been trying to change my buying habits, especially when it comes to clothes. I’ve become more and more aware that all the readily available, cheap, off the rack clothing comes at a high price – the lives of those forced to work in awful conditions for awful pay (or no pay at all). Big companies outsource their production, and those companies often outsource it again –making it easy for our department stores to turn a blind eye to who has really made their products. The International Labour Organisation estimates that women and girls represent the largest share of forced labour victims with 11.4 million (55%) trafficked victims per year. Underprivileged women are the ones carrying the burden created by our consumer culture.
When I purchase cheap dresses and under-priced jeans, the cost involved in making the products doesn’t go away – it just means someone other than me is paying it. Usually it’s the most vulnerable people who are paying that cost. When I do that, I am communicating to the clothing companies, the world and to myself that I value cheap clothes more than I value the humans, often female, who are being exploited, under-paid and enslaved.
Value Education for Women
Education can make all the difference in the world for women. However, of the 100 million children who don’t go to school, two thirds are girls. There is an ongoing expectation in many societies that women take on the work involved in running a home – cooking, cleaning, childcare, fetching water – and girls start this work from a young age, often at the expense of education. But education can give women the power of making informed choices. UNESCO’s statistics have shown that when girls receive even a basic education, they marry later, have smaller and healthier families, are more likely to enter the labour market and to seek access to healthcare for themselves and their children. Education for women has been called the single most effective tool for development – when women are economically empowered, their towns, cities and countries benefit. You can support this work, through organisations like Women for Women and many others. You can show you value education for girls, and never forget the privilege of your own education.