“Authentic peace is only possible if the dignity of the human person is promoted at every level of society, and every individual is given the chance to live in accordance with his dignity. To teach people this truth is one of the most fruitful and lasting ways to affirm the value of peace.”
How far from relate this truth is today! In many areas in our world, war, bloodshed and injustices are the common fare of the people. In our midst, bank robberies, murder and rape cases scream in the headlines. In our home infidelity, abandonment, cruelty and violence persists. Reaching intolerable proportions, the pope in his message is calling all to renew their commitment to work for peace!
“I wish to direct my message especially to women, and to invite them to become teachers of peace with their whole being and in all their actions. May they be witnesses, messengers and teachers of peace in relations between individuals and between generation, in the family, in the cultural, social and political life of nations and particularly in situations of conflict and war.”
“Because God ‘entrusts the human being in a special way’ to women. In the rearing of children, mothers, through their special bond with their child, gives the child that sense of security and trust without which the child would find it difficult to develop properly its own personal identity and subsequently, to establish positive and fruitful relationships with others. This same relationship also directs the mind and heart of the child to God long before any formal religious education begins.
In this decisive and sensitive task, no mother should be left alone. Children need the presence and care of both parents who carry out their duty as educators through the influence of the way they live. The quality of the relationship between the spouses greatly conditions both the way children relate to their surroundings and the other relationships which they will develop throughout life. Affectionate and positive parental interactions enable children to learn on their own values which promote peace: love of truth and justice, a sense of responsible freedom, esteem and respect for others. Growing up in a warm and accepting environment, they are able to perceive, reflected in their own family relationships, the love of God himself enabling them to mature in a spiritual atmosphere fostering openness to others and the gift of self to their neighbor.”
Such profound realism yet rendered acutely efface as we witness the actuality in our families and in our societies. We are confronted with facts like over half a million mothers die each year from pregnancy related causes. And for ever woman who dies, 100 other are left sick or disabled, all due to the lack of proper medication and medical care. (1992 UNDP Report) In our country particularly, the death of a woman at the peak of her productive and reproductive life can leave far reaching consequences. In the event that the mother dies, the family would be expected to assume the cost of burial as well as the expenses related to transport, medical care and supplies. Survivors would have to purchase food for that the mother used to grow herself, or find someone else to take up agricultural tasks. If the family stays together - a daughter usually quits school to assume the household chores. Younger children suddenly lose the person they were closest to emotionally, and who provided them with informal education and social guidance. With equally socially devastating consequences is the reality of adolescent pregnancy. In one stud, three quarters of the pregnancies in the adolescent under the age of 20 were unwanted. Adolescent child-bearing and child care almost invariably mean a lifetime of financial dependency. Thus in this situation the quality of relationship changes. The ensuing reaction that children see and follow no longer promote peace. There is confusion and alienation. There us hatred, discrimination and impersonal temporary shallow relationships. this breeds distrust, loneliness and hopelessness.
All these factor plant the seed of loss of respect for human life and of extreme violence. And these are sustained through the years if no intervention is done.
“The women’s presence and role in the home then is vital, its effects incalculable. yet these should be understood not in an exclusive sense but in the logic of complementary roles present in the common vocation to love which calls men and women to seek peace with one accord and to work together in building it. For unless women are fully able to share their gifts with their family and with the whole community, society will never reflect in a better way the substantial unity of the human family and the very way in which society understands and organizes itself will not improve. There growing presence of women in social, economic and political life at the local, national and international levels is thus a very positive development. Women have a full right to become actively involved in all areas of public life, and this must be affirmed and guaranteed, also where necessary, through appropriate legislation.
The advance ment of women is a matter of simple justice and much more it is the key development opportunity and need of the 1990’s. Women are the main providers for two thirds of the poorest households in the developing world. They produce more than 60% of all food grown and consumed locally. They are the primary managers of national resources in their community.
Yet women are the world’s largest excluded group. In the human Development Report’s analysis of gender-based inequalities as reflected in the Human Development Index (HDI) no country treats its women as well as it does its men.
Women are denied equal access to education: rates of school enrollment are much lower for females than males and many more women than men are illiterates. Women have fewer job opportunities than men and even when they manage to find paid employment their wages are far lower than those of men. In all countries, women are under represented in government (1993 UNDP Annual Report).
However in their struggle to fight for their rights, active women tend to lose tract of God’s plan of reciprocity and complementarity between man and woman. Hardly will this truth occur in their minds and consciences. The real Christian challenge is here.