Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Women's Day Celebrations - but no Bishops! (or Bhikkhunis)

Yesterday was the centenary of International Women's Day. Each year around the world, International Women's Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8. Hundreds of events occur not just on this day but throughout March to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women.

Organisations, governments and women's groups worldwide choose different themes each year that reflect global and local gender issues. This year the global theme was "Equal access to education, training and science and technology: Pathway to decent work for women." Last year it was "Equal rights, equal opportunities: Progress for all."

Today 600 Anglicans are officially leaving the Church of England in protest at the decision to ordain women as bishops.

So it's not just Buddhists adhering to medieval traditional Asian cultural norms who deny women's equality.

The "justification" offered by the those leaving the Church of England is that they are convinced the Bible teaches that male headship is what God wills, both in individual families, and in the family of the Church. They point to passages such as 1 Corinthians 11:13 - "The head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God."

"For us in Reform we see the Bible teaching so clearly the leadership of men - in a loving way," says the Rev Paul Dawson, the group's media officer.

"We have to say OK, we can live with working alongside women leading local churches though we think it's not ideal. But once you have women in a very public leadership role within the Church then we have to say 'That's gone beyond the line.'"

UN support for the rights of women began with the Organization's founding Charter.  Among the purposes of the UN declared in Article 1 of its Charter is “To achieve international co-operation … in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.”

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