Here's how the Church is working for gender justice at home and overseas
Published on 8 March, 2016
From working to end violence against women to helping women entrepreneurs, gender equality initiatives are at the centre of the Church of Scotland's work.
Today on International Women's Day let's take a moment to look at a few of the ways the Kirk is working to create a world where everyone can reach their God-given potential.
Church and Society Council
The Church and Society Council has a long track record of speaking out against violence against women here in Scotland. Church and Society, along with other Church councils, has been raising awareness by taking part in efforts such as the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence campaign and by encouraging men to sign the White Ribbon pledge.
Katherine Gilmour, the council's newly appointed Violence Against Women Development Officer says:
"I am really excited to be taking on this new role in the Church of Scotland. In this post, I'll working across the Church and with external and ecumenical partners to highlight the issue of violence that women and girls face on a daily basis. The Church has a key role to play in promoting gender justice and ensuring that our congregations and communities are places where all people can flourish irrespective of gender.
"International Women's Day is a great opportunity to think about how far we've come towards gender equality, to celebrate the amazing work of women in our society and congregations and to think about how we can continue to change things for the better."
This year to celebrate International Women's Day 2016, Church and Society asked some staff and church members to share their thoughts about one woman who has inspired them. Read those stories here.
The Guild is supporting two projects that are changing women's lives for the better. Feed the Minds helps Kenyan women who are working to break the cycle of female genital mutilation in that country. Working with local partners that educate women about the dangers of the practice, Feed the Minds is one reason why women in Kenya are making strides. According to government health statistics, Kenya is one of several countries where the proportion of girls subjected to genital cutting is declining.
Another of The Guild's projects is helping women in Bolivia become equal partners in their communities. Christian Aid's Caring for Mother Earth in Bolivia project is working with over 700 families to educate them about climate change and support them to build and use solar powered ovens. Without the ovens, women typically spend their entire day engaged in tasks connected with food preparation, such as collecting firewood. Freed from that burden, women can play a more equal part in their communities.
Iain Whyte, Secretary of the Guild says:
"Not to recognise the importance of gender equality is to diminish the value and contribution that all people can offer to the world and to waste the God-given potential that is part of both men and women".
The Church has also been involved in raising money to support Glasgow based charity, Wevolution. Members of the Church of Scotland Guild, and the Church's Ministries Council raised £200,000 for the microfinance charity that offers interest-free loans to help women become business owners.
CrossReach's social care programmes work with people of all ages and genders, but some of those services are especially important for women. The Daisy Chain Early Years project in Glasgow, for example, includes a mums' support group as well as other parent and child services that enhance family life. CrossReach also offers counselling and support services for women dealing with post-natal depression and offers a peri-natal support service that helps new mums –and dads—strengthen their relationships before, during and after childbirth.
World Mission Council
The World Mission Council works with women across the world helping partner churches combat many forms of gender-based violence. The Church has long played a key role internationally in increasing women's access to education and economic opportunity. Last year World Mission released the groundbreaking report, 'Gender Based Violence An International Perspective,' (pdf file) that offers a unique window into the experiences and views of women from a wide range of cultures.
"Women around the world are taking action to put an end to GBV and to fight for gender justice," the report concludes. "However, these women do not only want to hear idle promises and well-meaning words; they want and need to hear and share transformative messages that will have a significant impact on their communities and the entire world.
"Either every human being is made in the image of God, Gen 1:27, or they are not: if we are to take this fundamental understanding of our creation by God seriously, then we cannot rest until all human beings are treated as persons of equal value."
These are just a few of the ways the Church of Scotland is working for gender justice in Scotland and across the world.
For more information about International Women's Day 2016, check out the UN website here.