CALL TO FAMILY, COMMUNITY, AND PARTICIPATION

 

March is Women’s History Month, a time to think and reflect on the place of women in history.

In the United States, President Jimmy Carter in a 1980 proclamation established one week in March as Women’s History Week.  It took several years before this celebration extended into the full month of March.

 

Very little has been written about the role of women in society, government, history, etc. until more recent years.  To illustrate, the Nineteenth Amendment to the US Constitution granted women the right to vote and was introduced in 1878 but it took forty-one years for it to be ratified.

 

image of women rights  - Happy International Women - JPG One of the principles of the Catholic Social Teaching is the Call to Family, Community, and Participation.  It states that the “human person is not only sacred but also social.  How we organize our society directly affects the human dignity and the capacity of individuals to grow in community.”

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)

 

Another aspect of this principle is the belief that people have a right and a duty to participate in society, seeking together the common good and well-being of all, especially the poor and vulnerable.

Women, and children, are often the poorest and most vulnerable in society and their participation in many societies is limited. Supporting this statement are statistics from the United Nations Secretary General’s Unite Campaign to End Violence Against Women, 2014:

  • 80% of the people trafficked across national borders are women
  • 7 in 10 women in the world report having experienced physical and/or sexual violence at some point in their lives
  • 603 million women live in countries where domestic violence is not yet considered a crime
  • Worldwide up to 50% of sexual assaults are committed against girls under the age of 16
  • Approximately 100 to 140 million girls and women in the world have experienced female genital mutilation/cutting

 

Though in many countries women have made great advances in being treated equally many other countries lag far behind.  Many women have risked their lives, their families, their reputations championing the human rights of women through the centuries.  But there is still much to be done.

In our own society today women, young women in particular, can be exploited through online pornography which is becoming violent and humiliating, through the objectification of women in the media, the rape culture which exists on some college campuses, sexting and so forth.

 

At the same time there are all those wonderful women who have been mentors, friends, sisters and companions, who have inspired all of us to be better human beings.  As we celebrate Women’s History month take time to remember those women who have been an inspiration and an influence for good.

 

Every year the National Women’s History Project highlights several women who have made outstanding contributions to the world.  Here are the names of some:

Chipeta, Anna Julia Haywood Cooper, Agatha Tiegel Hanson, Frances Oldham Kelsey, Jaida Im, Mother Frances Warde, Marilyn Lacey.  To find out more about these women go to:  www.nwhp.org/why/honorees2012.php.

Ann Kasparek