As I write, it was just over a year ago that Sarah Kim and I traveled to Ghana for an African women’s conference called Tumekutana. The idea of the conference was to gather reformed Christian women leaders together from all over Africa (22 countries were represented) to discuss the problems women were having in their respective countries and gain strength and support from each other. It was a wonderful event.
I often think of the problems these women expressed during our talks – some experienced enslavement of the body, mind and soul through terrible poverty, old traditions that have carried over to modern times, ill-health, and the fall-out of HIV/AIDS etc. If they didn’t personally experience this, they worked with women who did. In many cases their Church wasn’t helpful in solving the problem or supporting them.
When these concerns were discussed, Sarah and I listened (and listened – and listened). Sometimes there were tears and surprisingly, there was lots of laughter and singing. One amazing thing was that their faith in God’s presence in their lives was strong in such dire circumstances and this helped them face their problems.
What we hear often on the Canadian news are discussions about the “glass ceiling”, pay equity, child-care issues, second incomes in families and the balancing of work and home. Women have come a long way in being able to make choices in their lives – “what would I like to be when I grow up”.
We certainly cannot say that we have eradicated poverty or domestic violence but we do have some choices and some laws in place that have changed women’s lives. Women (and men) have fought hard for these changes and advances still need to be made, but there is hope!
When we look at women’s issues in Canada we do have the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in place BUT some of these same concerns can be discussed. The disappearance of indigenous women, women and children living well below the poverty line, the right to say “no” to unwanted sexual advances are ongoing issues.
I remember vividly the concerns expressed by the women at our conference. They are very real and overwhelming for them and not all African women are amongst those affected but many in the communities represented with us were.
Let us pray for these women of Africa. Pray that the leaders are given strength and courage to help many who have concerns about numerous issues. Pray that tribal differences be eased, old traditions overcome, poverty lifted, children educated, family issues changed, women be up-raised and not become chattels or spoils of war, food be plentiful and that hope abound. In Jesus’ name, I pray.
For more information about Janet Brewer’s and Sarah Kim’s experiences at the conference, please visit the WMS web site, http://www.wmspcc.ca/tumekutana-2015/.