A delegation from Mothers’ Union is joining other Anglican women from around the world this month at this year’s UN Commission on the Status of Women [UNCSW] at the United Nations in New York. They will be lobbying governments and officials to ensure that women have equal rights and access to economic assets, such as land, social protection, pensions and employment. They will also be calling for policies that tackle workplace sexual discrimination and harassment.
Harassment and other forms of gender-based violence have an impact on women’s ability to generate and sustain income. A woman may have her independence curtailed by a husband or partner preventing her from working or be devastated by debts accrued in her name. Sexual and physical assault may also have an impact on employment and income generating ability.
A Step Change
Mothers' Union have long worked within communities to create a step change against these barriers. In 2012 I travelled to Nairobi to visit a Mothers’ Union in Kenya. I met a couple who proudly showed me the impact the programme was having on their lives. Starting with their own kitchen garden, they had gone on to farm the steep land around their property and raise livestock. Liberated, they became free to grow their assets and sustain their own income. A key part of their journey was working together, as a couple, both having an equal stake in the project. Communication between them improved as did the quality of their relationship, which they told me had an impact on the life of their family. And thriving families add up to make thriving communities!
An Issue of Justice
Our hope at Mothers’ Union is for a world where women have freedom and the ability to obtain and control economic resources and where the current global economic system is re-imagined to ensure that wealth is evenly distributed and no-one is left behind. Sadly, for many women this is not the case. Many countries across the world still limit women’s rights to own land and property or fail to enforce policies of equal pay between the sexes. Women’s empowerment falters because of government’s failure to tackle discrimination and harassment in the workplace and ensure the same opportunities are open to women as their male counterparts.
Mothers’ Union is passionate about supporting families by offering practical, social and spiritual help that will enable individuals, families and communities to flourish, expressed expertly in Micah 6v8; “What does the Lord require of you? To act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God”. Empowering women is not only beneficial to women themselves but also impacts their children, families and communities. More than this, it is a fundamental issue of justice.
Johanna Fadipe, Regional Development Manager, Mothers’ Union