Thursday, February 12, 2009

Marginalization of Women

Why is Africa so mired in poverty? Surely it's because of the scourge of AIDS, the enmity that tribalism fosters, the corruption endemic to governments there.... All of that is true, of course, but I would add another reason, less often cited: the marginalization of women in many African cultures.

In Africa, women hold up more than half the sky. They do much more than half the work. They rise long before dawn to fetch water. They till the soil with hand tools. They raise and cook the food for their families. They bear children in situations where death-by-childbirth is all too common. They hold families together when the males are either away from home (at war, or seeking employment) or dysfunctional at home (abusive, alcoholic). Yet women's gifts are neither recognized nor honored. They have no voice. In Sudan, for example, girls are literally the property of men, deemed valuable only insofar as they can bring in a dowry of cattle when the parents marry them off--cattle which are then used by the parents to buy wives for the all-important sons.

Cultures change slowly, but education is the key. That's why Mercy Beyond Borders is supporting the education of girls in south Sudan. Once women are literate, aware of their potential, and developing their gifts, there will be less poverty and more hope in Africa! Slowly, slowly, when women are less marginalized, life will improve for everyone.

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