By Liza B. LAMIS
Communications Consultant, Christian Conference of Asia
Aside from always being a potential victim of sexual assault and violence – simply because one is a woman – a poor, young woman is more likely to be a victim of human trafficking and exploitation.
In times of war she could be raped. Rape has always been a tool of conquest and subjugation. Rape has also become a ‘corrective’ measure for those behaving differently than the supposed ‘feminine’ way of being. An African woman said that it is far safer to be a soldier than a young girl these days in her country.
In this context I can understand why a man would thank God he is not a woman! However, with God it is good to be. And I say with God it is good to be a woman.
This must be the reason why the World YWCA Council and International Women’s Summit on July 10-16, 2011 in Zurich, Switzerland, dreamt and did a grand act around the theme: “Women Creating a Safe World.”
I became a member of the YWCA in the Philippines after Harriet Rivas, Quezon City’s YWCA Secretary in 2007 invited me to speak with the local women during a celebration. From World YWCA designated ‘resident feminist theologian’ at its Regional Training Institute for Asia and the Pacific in 2009, I have now been appointed ‘advisor on feminist theologies’, whatever those titles mean. I gladly welcomed the fancy titles and I love volunteering with the YWCA to feed my passion for gender justice and endless musings about women and their lives.
I raised this question to sisters at the World YWCA Office: What do you need feminist theology for? The simple reply was: So that young women and girls won’t feel guilty about their bodies and choices.
How could women, especially young girls, not feel guilty and feel safe about themselves? What does it mean to say, “With God it is good to be a woman” in a context where there is so much control, imposed guilt, demonisation, violation, abuse, exploitation and mutilation of women and women’s bodies? I am without words to answer these questions. for around the world we hear women and witness them being brutalised, assaulted, living with HIV and AIDS, hungered to death, abandoned…
If women were created in God’s own image, why then is so much evil happening to us, and so much guilt burdening us?
This question consequently leads us to believe that whatever concerns the body is a theological issue and one related to justice. What is theology if not to uphold and promote life to its fullness as God meant it to be? And fullness of life can be made real through acts of justice. It won’t happen by chance. We have to do justice, love kindness…for this is what God requires of us (see Micah 6.8).
“Where countries live in peace, where communities are safe, where homes are free of violence, where lives flourish, and where women’s leadership is creating this vision” is a brave statement of will for the World YWCA. It is a great dream grounded in great faith that with God, it is good to be a woman.