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Global Perspectives

When I critique oppressive systems and ideologies, I generally ask two simple questions: Does the system or ideology give one group unearned power over other groups, and especially over others who already have less social power? If the answer is “yes,” then I ask a question I already know the answer to: Is the system safe for the less powerful? Naturally, social hierarchies are safe for those at the top. They’re designed to preserve the existing social structure, which already prioritizes the needs and perspectives of the group with power. Social hierarchies don’t make less powerful people and groups safer. Rather, they exacerbate any vulnerabilities and pose danger and harm to marginalized people. If a system relies on the powerful group behaving rightly and n... Read more
She holds up her hands to shield her face as they drag her from her home. She digs her feet into the soil, but it's not enough to save her. She is afraid, a Jephthah's daughter, about to face a vow someone else made on her behalf. Mourning for her virginity, for choice, for everything that will be taken from her. Her heart is barren, a suffering tomb, never to be loved or valued. A young girl of fourteen, sold and given away. She screams one final time, but it's not enough to stop them. She will weep, cover her mouth, and cry her silent screams as they take her away. Ukuthwalwa. The stories will break your heart. It's happening every day in rural South Africa. Girls as young as fourteen are being forced to marry men double their age. In some cases, men as old as fif... Read more
At a recent Wednesday night church service, a group of us wandered away from the topic of the night to discuss the old baptismal font recently decommissioned by our church. A parishioner had tripped over a leg that protruded too far into the aisle, injuring herself and damaging the font. We all agreed that it was time for the font to go. Our conversation returned to the topic of the evening: human dignity. I was struck by the many acts and attitudes of oppression that were and are sanctioned by the church in the past and present. These structures cause harm to the body of Christ and are broken, just like the damaged baptismal font. It is time for these oppressive structures to go. Patriarchy is an earthly system that oppresses, limits, and silences women. The church has been compl... Read more
My husband and I were sitting in a restaurant waiting for our food. A young couple sat down at the table just in front of us. “So,” my husband began, “I know you told me not to tell you about all the news stories I’ve read today, but I read something interesting you need to know about.” “Uh–huh.” “China has ended its one-child policy.” The waiter arrived and placed our food on the table, but I could barely see my meal. I was dumbstruck by the news my husband had shared. I thought back to the years of prayers on the issue of gendercide in China. I recalled the group of women who gathered on International Women’s Day last year to discuss the plight of Chinese women and girls. Thirty-seven million girls have been... Read more
While I was at university, I was obsessed with becoming a missionary. I wasted several years of my life trying to become one, because I was convinced that it was the Lord's will for me. Looking back, I now recognize how privilege, bias, and patriarchy drove my desire. Lurking beneath my perceived “calling” to missions was an unspoken assumption about my place in the world and the place of others in relation to myself. I now see that my goal and the assumptions driving it were rooted in my own bias. They were also a consequence of patriarchy.   I knew from childhood that I wanted to preach. I loved listening to my father preach every Sunday, and I wanted to be just like him. I wanted to dig deep and find out everything there was to know about the Bible. I wanted to c... Read more
Christian egalitarians in developed Western countries engage a wide range of issues related to gender equality. We stand up for women’s ordination. We support mutual submission in marriage. We fight sexual objectification in the media. We stamp out insulting gender stereotypes. And we celebrate women who break glass ceilings in male-dominated careers. This is just to name a few of our battles.  It would seem that our plates are full in the fight for equality—and all of these endeavors are good things. Yet, as we wade neck-deep through the struggles of our own culture, let’s not forget the millions of women around the world who face problems we can’t imagine. In many different regions, particularly in developing countries, women have few rights and an over... Read more
God uses all kinds of spokespeople to communicate important messages to the church and world. In the past few years, former US President Jimmy Carter has been one such advocate—challenging audiences to affirm and respect the personhood and contributions of women. Carter's 2014 book, A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power, grew out of his travels to more than one hundred forty countries. The book begins with the former president's bold statement that "the biggest challenge facing our world today," the belief that maleness is superior to femaleness, is often enforced by the twisting of religious teachings. The ripple effects of these deep-seated convictions are evident in many parts of the world today. Joy erupts when the doctor, midwife, or fa... Read more
This article was written in honor of South Africa’s National Women’s Day on August 9. In light of this memory and moment, we celebrate the experience of global womanhood, even as we learn to hear and love each other’s unique stories. I glanced at the newspaper lying next to our table. It read “the day 20,000 women said no the dompas."[1] I was intrigued and pulled the paper onto the table where my mom and I were sharing lunch. Just the week before, South Africa had celebrated women’s day on August 9 with a sleepy holiday from work. But, as I read the article, I wondered why many of us had never learned about the significance of the holiday. I am a woman who believes in the value of the female voice. I also believe in the godly empowerment of o... Read more
This article is a satirical critique of culture intended to point out the injustice and inequality experienced by Lebanese women. Recently, I’ve been hearing a lot of Lebanese men complaining about their place in society and the home. They keep saying that our society is sexist—an unfair and untrue accusation. There is complete gender equality in Lebanon. It’s just that men are more suited to some jobs than women are. Lebanese men should assume their natural role for the benefit of society. Although men’s status in society is different, it is both equal and appropriate. Both men and women are citizens and can vote. However, only mothers can give their children citizenship, because they are the ones that give birth to the children and nurse them. Children are m... Read more
In May this year, I traveled to Kenya to work beside one of CBE's closest partners--the Ekklesia Foundation for Gender Education (EFOGE). Our first task was to visit schools using a version of CBE's curriculum, Called Out, contextualized for East African readers. Thanks to a regional partnership with the Anglican Church in Kenya,Called Out (East Africa) is the first Christian curriculum to be used in the Bondo public schools.Students who participate in the weekly Christian Union education program receive a free copy of Called Out. Prior to utilizing the resource, teachers received provisional training, an experience they greatly enjoyed. Though the staff at Kenyan schools was limited due to heightened security risks, I met with students, faculty, and adm... Read more

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