Daily reading: 3 March
Gender justice – we must trust in the Lord!
The daily readings throughout Lent 2020 are taken from the Christian Aid Ireland footprints journey.
Be gracious to me, O God, for people trample on me; all day long foes oppress me
- Psalm 56:1.
This Psalm is essentially about David’s fears when he is captured by the Philistines and how he overcomes these by placing his trust in God. It also focuses attention on the way David triumphs in a situation of unjust persecution. However, Psalm 56 also brings to my mind the situation of many in our world who are subjected to oppression, violence and persecution because of their gender.
For nearly 30 years I have been involved with the Anglican charity Mothers’ Union. We have over four million members in 84 countries worldwide and we focus on helping anyone, regardless of gender, nationality or culture, whose life has met with adversity. It was when I first represented MU at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women that I began to realise the full meaning of the term “gender justice” and the enormity of the problems of inequality and persecution worldwide due to gender and/or low income.
I realised then too that gender justice is an issue for both genders. Men, as well as women, are subjected to gender-based violence (GBV) and that can be physical, psychological or constitute adverse financial control.
However, in Ireland, it was with females that MU began its work in this field. Annually now we raise awareness of domestic violence through active involvement with the international campaign 16 days of activism against gender violence, beginning on 25 November, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, until 10 December, Human Rights Day. During this period MU holds various events and services, with speakers from women’s refuges, gender justice agencies, politicians, police and the church, as well as victims, to highlight the disproportionate effect of GBV and domestic violence on women and girls. One in three women worldwide will be affected by GBV in their lifetime; in Ireland statistics show that one in five women experiences domestic abuse and this figure is rising. With greater public awareness, reporting abuse can happen earlier and more frequently, giving a better chance of restoring relationships and dissipating potential future abuse.
Through our worship, vigils and prayer as part of the 16 day campaign, MU members ask God to help those who are affected in any way by such physical or psychological violence, and to guide us to help in practical ways. We also seek by contact and example to bring the abused to place their trust in God and follow Him – just as David did in adversity all those centuries ago.
Loving Lord, who came to proclaim justice,
make us bold to speak out truth
and break the power of silence.
Loving Lord, who came to expose the darkness,
make us bold to reach into the shadows
and release all who are oppressed from fear.
We pray for those who perpetrate abuse, change their inner hearts.
We pray that regimes that endorse gender violence will have their rule and influence removed.
We pray for a better world where justice and peace will flourish.
We pray for all who live in fear of violence and despair that life will ever change;
bring to an end their suffering and restore their sense of worth.
May they come to know and trust in you.
Today's contributor is June Butler. June has been the Provincial President of The Mothers’ Union in Ireland since January 2019. In her professional life, she worked in the public sector for over 30 years and became the Assistant Chief Electoral Officer for NI. Before retiring from full-time employment, she was for seven years the Diocesan Secretary for the two Church of Ireland Dioceses of Connor and Down and Dromore.
Published on 03 March 2020