Thursday, July 30, 2009

Can We Speak Out For the World's Women?

I've been thinking a lot about how privileged I am. The recent arrest of Professor Gates must surely remind all of us who are white about our white privilege. The arrest of my friend Shadi Sadr in Iran reminded me starkly of the privilege I have to be an advocate in the U.S.

In today's New York Times, Nicholas Kristof tells the story of a woman in Pakistan who nearly lost her life in childbirth and whose newborn died for the lack of a $3 cab ride to a hospital. Kristof writes, "One of the most lethal forms of sex discrimination is this systematic inattention to reproductive health care, from family planning to childbirth -- so long as those who die are impoverished, voiceless women." How can a half a million women a year dying from pregnancy-related concerns not be a headline nearly every day?

I'm just back from seeing "Ruined," a remarkable play at the City Center in New York. It's a dramatic portrayal of the horrors facing women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where rape and violence are daily parts of life, and women are cast out of their families and villages when they are the victims of violence. It brings home the work we've been doing on the Congo Sabbath Initiative in a very real way.

I cried through a lot of the second half of the play. I cried when I read Shadi's story in the New York Times this morning. As a Universalist, I know that none of us are free, unless all of us are free. And, I know that each of us can play a part in bringing justice to the world, even if it's just a small step. What can you do?

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