“The Oldest Injustice in Human History is the Way We Treat Women”
For the past couple of months, I’ve been reflecting on how justice (or injustice) factors into this process of discerning how to handle my male privilege. Yesterday morning, I encountered a blog post that touches on exactly that topic.
It’s by pastor Eugene Cho, and while the post is largely about the development work that his organization, One Days Wages, is doing around the world, there is a devastating section on the plight of women in the world. Cho writes:
“The oldest injustice in human history is the way we treat women.”
(this is actually the title of an earlier post on Cho’s blog here)
Wow. What a strong statement. At once it captures the persistence of this malady and it also articulates the scope of the problem. And the noun “injustice” is perfect, because that’s exactly what this is.
In his post from Tuesday, Cho quotes an article from the Public Health Institute entitled “Girls: the World’s Greatest Return on Investment.” Here’s the quote:
Consider this – research demonstrates that girls who complete seven years of schooling will marry four years later and have 2.2 fewer children than girls who do not complete primary school. Yet even though the economic and social returns of investing in girls are undeniable, World Bank research demonstrates that only two pennies of every dollar in international aid funding goes to support programs for girls.
In Davos last month at the World Economic Forum, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon told world leaders that girls are the key to ending global poverty. Investing in girls is now proven to be one of the most cost effective strategies to improve health, education, and economic outcomes for poor countries around the world.
Just like the girl on the train, there are 600 million girls living in poor countries who struggle to eat, attend school, and see a doctor when they need one. These girls could be our own daughters – bright, eager to learn, with dreams and hopes for the future. These girls could become doctors, entrepreneurs, and leaders of their countries. These girls could change the world.
Reality, however, is very different. Most of these girls are forced to work while their brothers attend school, suffer abuse in their families, and experience violence in their communities. They are too often married off as children to men three times their age, and give birth to daughters whose lives will follow the same cycles of exploitation…
The world’s 600 million girls are our greatest return on investment. The time has come for our dollars to follow our research and our rhetoric. As a global community, we can no longer afford to look away.
Friends, our Lord has things to say about injustices, such as this text, from Isaiah 61:8:
“For I, the Lord, love justice.
I hate robbery and wrongdoing.
I will faithfully reward my people for their suffering
and make an everlasting covenant with them.
Their descendants will be recognized
and honored among the nations.
Everyone will realize that they are a people
the Lord has blessed.”
May it be so with us.