God favours boys! This is the message girls and women receive throughout their lives and sadly, the church most often simply reinforces this.
From conception to birth the common rhetoric is that there is the hope for a boy instead of a girl. Some communities even blame the mother for not producing a girl! Female infanticide continues to be a real problem – why? Because there is still a perception that women are less valuable, and men have greater earning power. One father who had three girls was overjoyed that the fourth child was to be a boy and shared that at last he had someone to carry on the family name and inheritance.
Families exacerbate messaging in subtle ways; whether through allocation of time, funds, inheritance and even affection, or through assigning authority – the son to be “in charge”, for example. The message is clear – girls are less valuable and less capable.
Schools reinforce stereotypical roles through enforced subject selection – girls do cookery and sewing, and boys do woodwork and design. Worse still, in some communities girls are forced to offer sexual favours to get through their schooling!
Churches can further megaphone this messaging overtly with patronising statements such as “men and women have different roles, women are there to care for the home, men are there to provide,” or simply by there being no women in leadership or authority, beyond Sunday School. I know from my own experience – my church leaders told me that women are not allowed to teach and that was how God ordained it to be. Men are to lead, teach and be the head. I remember when a colleague in Kenya announced he was to marry, he shared with me that he now had a greater responsibility as he was tasked with pastoring his wife and ensuring she behaved and followed Jesus! A woman being abused by her husband sought help from the pastor who said she was to submit and ask what had she done to antagonise her husband and force him to act in such away?
Is it true – does God prefer boys? Has he saved up all the gifts of leadership and teaching for just boys? Does he really want women to be seen and treated as less than men, even less than human?
Everything I read about God, his love, his justice, his redeeming and reconciling aims, his creative equality in making both men and women in his image – the way Jesus treated women and the way in Christ we are all equal – tells me that God does not have favourites and gives gifts to both men and women.
But how do we enable all to see and understand this? How does one tackle the deeply held beliefs that people and communities hold that leads to this inequality that permeates all aspects of life? Romans 12:1 says we need to be transformed through the renewal of our mind.
We believe this starts with a commitment to love and desire equality for all. We encourage all our Micah family to take a stand today, and every day, for gender equality and freedom. Let it impact your homes, your community, your workplace and your church. Become advocates and examples for equality in and through all you do and say. The impact of this will be immeasurable.
Grace and peace,
Sheryl Haw – International Director, Micah Global
Stop discrimination – see info and resources at Christians for Biblical Equality
Stop violence – see info and resources at Restored
Stop harmful practices – see 28 Too Many
Promote shared responsibilities for home and family – see Salt Initiatives
Promote equal opportunities in the workplace, in leadership, in ministry and in all aspects of life – see as an example Quality and Human Rights Commission
Promote access to women’s health and wellbeing – see information on women’s health from WHO
Reform legal processes that discriminate against women in access to inheritance, ownership, finance, land and resources controls – see example from IJM on Land theft
Promote and reform the use of media so as to ensure equality messaging that supports empowerment of women – see UN paper on equality of women in the media.