At my window I was told that in my town the spring sun died one day
Go grab your guitar, your voice will belong to all those who one day had something to say
Sing, it’s better if you come, your voice is needed, I want to see you in my town
(Song “A mi Ciudad”, Santiago del Nuevo Extremo)
Students from the University of Chile met to compose and rehearse songs that subtly related what was happening in Chile during the dictatorship. By the end of the 1970s, we knew about the horrors that were occurring around us. Anyone was liable to disappear for asking a “seditious” question. After the dictatorship, we worked to ensure that this memory be recorded in school and university curricula, so that it would never happen again in Chile… The recent outbursts of anger and discontent reveal, however, how deep the inequalities and inequities that the neoliberal model helped to increase remain and how precarious a democracy sustained by such inequalities is.
The call for attention and awareness is coming worldwide from youth movements, high school and university students, feminists, indigenous people and environmentalists. They are breaking the mask of silence and inertia in which we are immersed. Every time we meet to analyze our situations, the causes that hinder a life with dignity and free from violence come to the fore and we reflect critically on practices that foster hatred and exclusion of people who are different. We are open to explore our own experiences of discrimination and being discriminated against. Each year, in the context of the Synod of Mission 21, together with the women’s and gender networks, we review progress, stagnation or setbacks regarding gender justice in each continent where Mission 21 collaborates. The message that emerges from this space places the vulnerability of women who do not have access to their basic rights as the main burning issue.
Following up on the burning issues highlighted last year, Obertina Modesta Johanis, Pastor of the Pasundan Christian Church in Indonesia, addresses women’s lack of empowerment and gender-based violence. Pia Grossholz-Fahrni, delegate of the European Assembly of Mission 21, emphasizes the inequity denounced in an extensive strike carried out in Switzerland under the slogan “Salary, time, respect”.
From the reports of activities supported by the Fund for the Advancement of Women, the work carried out in Cameroon by the partner organization AIChrisWOV stands out: “Ending gender-based violence means curbing HIV”, by Dorothy Tanwani and Glory Ambe. Silvia Regina de Lima Silva, from the Ecumenical Research Department (DEI) in Costa Rica, reflects on the campaigns: “What matters are the transformative actions for gender justice”. Doris Muñoz, from Chile, relates the results of the conference led by the Brazilian ecofeminist theologian Ivone Gebara and invites us to “engage in a process of deconstruction that frees us from ancient ties, which nowadays are functional to a belief system that controls consciences and dominates bodies”.
In Switzerland, we highlight the advocacy work carried out by civil society organizations, which promote and reaffirm an agenda for women, peace and security. This agenda also contains aspects consistent with the advocacy issues raised in recent years by women and gender networks and partners of Mission 21.
As tools for reflection and transformation, we further developed the work on these burning issues using the methodology of the Theatre of the Oppressed in the Pre-Synod of Women and the Program of Advocacy and Women’s Human Rights, accompanied by the collective Ma(g)dalena Berlin.
We also highlight and congratulate two members of our network for gender justice: Evelyne Zinsstag, who received the Marga Bührig Award 2019 in Basel, Switzerland, and Cecilia Castillo Nanjarí, who will receive the Sylvia Michel Award on March 8, 2020 in Zug, Switzerland.
Finally, we are preparing for the celebration of World Day of Prayer 2020, whose country of focus this year is Zimbabwe.
Marie Clare Barth
Death never takes a good Lady away, from the hearts of the people she inspired.Marie-Claire Barth’s vision of life was remarkable. She was a great feminist theologian, writer, friends and “Oma” to many of us.She will always be remembered. The legacy remains and continuous throughout generations. May God rest her beautiful soul. And bless the family and friends in this time of sorrow. Langit Kahilila- Wawan Gunawan. Jakatarub, Indonesia