Action Card - November 2018
Provided by Colette Joyce, National Justice and Peace Network
Equality for Women
“Equality,” by definition, is equality for all. There are many groups, comprised of both men and women, who suffer serious disadvantage, so why do we still need to single out equality for women, half the world’s population?
Historically, women have been deliberately excluded from many social benefits and activities, usually at the times when these were established or created but sometimes even at a later date, if it was deemed more beneficial to men. One thinks of women not being allowed to attend the new Universities of Paris, Oxford and Cambridge in the twelfth century, or being banned from using the Football Association’s playing fields in the UK between 1921 - 1971. In Saudi Arabia, women were only granted permission to drive in 2017, a privilege that men have enjoyed since the invention of the motor car. In every arena from law to business, from medicine to sport, women have had to play catch-up to men by first removing the barriers that created their inequality.
Nowhere was this more evident than in politics, when the great advance of democracy still restricted voting entitlement to males. Thanks to the courage and witness of those in the suffrage movements (both men and women) women won the right to vote one by one in countries around the world throughout the 20th Century. This work is not yet finished. In the UK just 32% of MPs are women and it has never reached 50%. Women are discouraged in many places from voting or seeking office, including in my own Roman Catholic Church where only men vote at synods and papal elections. As the UK celebrates 100 years of suffrage for women in 2018, we need to “never give up, never give in” seeking that equality that all human beings share as beloved children of God.
Find Out More
Women in the UK Parliament: https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/SN01250
Detailed Timeline for Women’s Suffrage Worldwide
Journey for Justice: The Story of Women in the World Council of Churches
Encourage women you know to register to vote, especially women age 18-25.
Write to a female MP and thank her for her public service. A list can be found here:
Write to all MPs to ask how they will increase the proportion of women in future parliaments.
Statue of Millicent Fawcett, Parliament Square, London