By Katherine Pullen, Staff Writer
I walked the cramped row of concrete houses in the Indian slum and watched a group of boys playing cards on the dirt ground. One of them yelled something I could not understand, and the little group fell into fits of laughter. I listened and wondered how many of their sisters’ voices would never join them in laughter, how many little voices had been silenced forever.
In India, hundreds of thousands of baby girls are killed each year simply because they are born female. While the birth of a male is an event to celebrate, the birth of a female is cause for lament. Like many other nations, girls are seen as a burden instead of a blessing, and it is the lucky ones who live to adulthood.
In every nation, men and women are treated differently; in very few does this difference favor women. According to UN Women, the United Nations entity for gender equality and the empowerment of women, females constitute a hugely disproportionate part of the world’s poor. Perhaps as much as 70 percent of people living in absolute poverty are women.
Women work two-thirds of the world’s working hours and produce half of the world’s food, yet earn less than 10 percent of the world’s wages and own less than 1 percent of the world’s property. Women compose 80 percent of the approximately 800,000 people trafficked annually, according to UN Women.
Low education, illiteracy, limited social mobility and violence are all gendered problems where the majority of those affected are women.
While the United Nations and other secular organizations have stepped up to the plate for women’s rights and empowerment, the global Christian church has been mostly silent on the issue.
The status of women in many places around the world defines them as “the least of these.” The Bible says that when Christ returns, he will commend his people for looking after the downtrodden and oppressed.
In Matthew 25:40, Jesus says, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (NIV).
Let us be the ones who make change in the world, who seek justice for women, for orphans, for people of different colors and races. Let us not turn a blind eye but, instead, face problems as they come and have the courage to imagine a better world.