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The Plight of Women Around the World

March 27, 2017

So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them (Genesis 1:27, NLT).

Today’s images of women throughout the world are often either harsh, masculine and negative, or they are unrealistically polished, poised and the picture of perfection. Women have often been made by the portrayals and messages from media, Hollywood and the world. Dress like this. Look like that (or like her). Act this way. You can have it all. Or you can have nothing. You can do nothing. You are of no value.

Women were created to be beautiful. Not merely physically speaking, but from the inside out. Through the very nature and characteristics that God placed inside every woman, women are distinct. Designed with gentle strength. A helpful spirit. A unique perspective and insight into life and situations that can encourage, nurture, strengthen, empower. God has gifted women to reflect certain wonderful aspects of his heart, mind and spirit.

But something happened along the way …

Beyond the Garden of Eden where the hand of God formed the first woman and up through today, women are often devalued, used, abused and disregarded in areas throughout the world. Equality of personhood has diminished. Respect and value have been lowered. Opportunity has been squelched or removed. Voices have been silenced.

Yet there is change, hope and victory …

Consider each of these women and how God is working through them to bring empowerment, freedom and dignity of life to others:

Florence Judd

At the age of 53, when many are winding down their careers, Florence Judd began pursuing her dream to become a missionary. Having raised her children and earned a degree in nursing years prior, she stepped out to make her dream a reality. Starting as a working visitor at Hospital Vozandes in Shell, Ecuador, she studied Spanish and returned as a full-time missionary. From nursing to ophthalmology, medical records, and assisting patients with medical caravans, she eventually became a full-time worker in community development. When she was 76 she led a cleft lip/palate program for children. She often made long trips to the jungle communities to visit patients. But in all of it, her greatest joy and passion was sharing the love and gospel of Christ. Florence served for 23 years in Ecuador with the same passion that moved her to missionary work years ago.

Elena and Emilse

Reach Beyond missionary Elena, serving in Argentina, has a ministry with children who have emotional and physical issues. She partners in ministry with Emilse, a musicologist friend who started a music school to help with emotional healing for children from broken homes ten years ago. They minister to those who are abused or emotionally insecure, and those with speech problems. Emilse feels her calling is to bring those children to God through music. Elena shares Bible stories and prays with the children weekly. Together they are impacting lives for God’s kingdom.

Also consider the plight of these women and how God is working to bring empowerment, freedom and dignity to them through the work of Reach Beyond:

New Sight Congo

In the Republic of Congo, a partner hospital of Reach Beyond is working hard to improve eye health and remove gender inequality there. New Sight Congo is the eye clinic at Pioneer Christian Hospital in Impfondo. “Almost two-thirds of the world’s blind are women.” In underdeveloped countries, “it is simply because women do not get to access medical services with the same frequency as men.” Our partners at the hospital are working to change that.

Twisted Traditions

Members of a Reach Beyond medical caravan team that visited Burkina Faso in 2010 were distraught to discover the extended practice of female genital mutilation in that region. The practice is prevalent due to strongly held cultural beliefs there. Female circumcision, imposed on girls as young as seven to nine years old, causes extensive scarring and can lead to urinary tract infections, pain and infertility. A form of physical punishment has been inflicted on them, distorting their identity as women and as children of God. Though against the law in Burkina Faso, the mutilation continues.

Change, however, is happening. With the assistance of Reach Beyond’s medical team, local ministry partner Radio Évangile Développement (Gospel for Radio Development or RED) is working hard to encourage people to stop this gruesome practice across Burkina Faso and ultimately the entire continent of Africa.

 

Others outside Reach Beyond are also involved in advocacy for the plight of women in various ways:

Toxic Congo

In an article written by Judith Wanga for the online edition of The Guardian, she describes the Democratic Republic of Congo as the “world’s most dangerous place for women”. As recently as late 2016, sexual violence against women and children is reported as prevalent. Born in the DRC, Wanga was three years old when her parents sent her and her sister to London for protection. She states:

“In eastern Congo, rape and sexual violence are routinely employed as weapons to subjugate villages and terrorize entire communities. From old women to young children, the soldiers do not discriminate; the stories of their brutality and torture are so horrific that they rarely reach western ears…. The country had become a toxic place to be."

Wanga is working to bring awareness to this issue in an effort to get “more people to feel rage and disgust about the situation there.” A program titled “The World's Most Dangerous Place for Women” was set to air on a BBC channel on Thursday, March 30.

Men Caring for the Plight of Women

Evan Grae Davis is an “activist, speaker, documentary filmmaker … and social justice advocate.” Growing up in a home with loving parents, along the way he became aware of the disparities between his home experience and that of other cultures, particularly related to the treatment of and perspectives toward women. After producing a fundraising video on homeless and abused women, “he discovered that domestic violence against women is still a significant problem. Women are so often sexually abused and taken advantage of because they don’t have the physical strength or the personal empowerment to resist the violence and domination of the men in their lives, whether fathers, relatives, husbands or boyfriends.” Over the years Evan has become a viable advocate for women’s issues and rights throughout the world. One of his recent films, “It’s a Girl”, addresses the scope of gender violence in the world.

 

Woman was created in the image of God. Women are part of God’s plan to fulfill His Great Commission to go into all the world and be His “voice and hands.” To be restored, and to bring restoration. Let us join together in empowering women throughout the world with the dignity and strength that God intended.

Sources: Reach Beyond; https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2010/mar/28/congo-women-danger-war-judith-wanga;http://evangraedavis.com/how_i_came_to_care_about_the_plight_of_women/


 


 

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