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Church ‘slow’ to recognise women’s call for equal partnership

The rights of women in Church and society are still not guaranteed, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches is warning as the world marks International Women’s Day on 8 March.

"The Church is still slow in recognising the urgent call for women’s equal partnership with men in all areas of ministry and witness," said the Rev. Patricia Sheerattan-Bisnauth, executive secretary of WARC’s office for Church Renewal, Justice and Partnership.

The United Nations has marked 8 March as International Women’s Day since 1975 but its roots go back to the beginning of the 20th century.

Sheerattan-Bisnauth described the international day as an opportunity to celebrate the gains made by women while drawing attention to the need for gender awareness, and enacting policies that support the equality of women.

"In spite of all the advancements made, women’s rights have not been guaranteed to the optimum level," she noted. "The fact remains that the majority of the poorest people in the world are women. The average woman, even in developed countries, still receives less pay than the average man for the same work.

"And even with all the legislation passed around the world, violent crimes against women, particularly rape and domestic violence, not only continue unabated but have been rising in the last decade," said Sheerattan-Bisnauth in a statement issued by the Reformed grouping, which gathers 75 million Reformed Christians in 218 churches in 107 countries.

In Germany, the country’s top Protestant bishop, Wolfgang Huber, issued an appeal to mark the international day by urging action to stop the trafficking of women for enforced prostitution in advance of the soccer World Cup in June.

Trafficking of women often heightens during international sports events, such as the soccer tournament to take place in Germany, church leaders have warned.

WARC’s general secretary, the Rev. Setri Nyomi, made a call "to the Church family and society at large to never let up in pursuing justice for women. Until we have that, we will never have true justice".

(c) Ecumenical News International