As churches turn their attention to the strength and resilience of Mary this Christmas, the Bishop of Penrith is urging people to help give dignity and hope to women around the world living in poverty.
The Rt Revd Dr Emma Ineson is encouraging support for Christian Aid’s Christmas Appeal which this year is highlighting how gifts and actions can help women tackle prejudice, oppression and discrimination globally and how whole families can thrive if mothers are given the opportunity to discover their voice and inherent gifts.
Mothers, such as Ranjita (30) from Rajasthan, India, who cleaned latrines and sewers by hand from the age of nine – but with the help of a Christian Aid-funded self-help group, discovered she was entitled to a government compensation grant and help to find a dignified occupation. She is now earning a living as a tailor and able to send her daughter to school.
Bishop Emma said: 'The statistics about unfulfilled lives for women across so many cultures are sobering, but at Christmas we celebrate the courage and determination of Mary and are reminded of our opportunity to help more women thrive and not just survive.
As we think about the gifts we can give this Christmas, perhaps the most precious thing we can give is hope – that might come as a word of encouragement or a space to be heard, or perhaps it is a financial gift to a charity such as Christian Aid, empowering women and their families across the world.
I know what it meant and means to me to receive support and advice from those around me who didn’t see the barriers in my way that others saw. For women such as Ranjita a gift not only changed her life but helped break the generational cycle of poverty, allowing her and her daughter to see themselves differently.
This Christmas, please do think of the women close to you – your mother, daughter, grandmother, sister, or friend – as well as those far away by supporting Christian Aid’s Christmas Appeal, and freeing them to meet their potential so more people can experience life in all its fullness.'
Last Christmas Cumbrians raised £8,800 for Christian Aid. Events in support of the appeal this year include carol singing and Advent Hope services.
One in three women globally experience gender-based violence in their lifetime. Approximately one third of married women in developing countries report having little or no say over their own healthcare, and more than 2.6 billion live in countries where rape within marriage is not considered a crime.
Research shows that more money in women’s hands contributes not only to eliminating poverty but also to better education, nutrition and health outcomes for children and other members of the household.
To find out more about the Christmas Appeal or to donate visit christianaid.org.uk/christmas-appeal
In India, £5 could buy a set of clothes for school and £19 could provide a woman with skills training, like tailoring, to enable her to set up a business.