Recognizing The Connection: Women And Missions -- By: Bryant L. Myers
PP 9:3 (Summer 1995) p. 7
Recognizing The Connection: Women And Missions
Bryant L. Myers is Vice-President for Mission and Evangelism, World Vision International, and also President of the Board of Evangelicals for Social Action. This article first appeared in the Sept. 1993 Marc Newsletter, and is reprinted by permission.
One of the major discoveries in the field of community development during the last 10 years is the critical importance of women to the development process.
The feminization of poverty is in arguable. Women and girl-children repeatedly pay the highest price for being poor. They get less food, less health care, and less education. Yet they do most of the agricultural work, maintain the family, and rear the children.
This problem is exacerbated by the fact that most of these women are invisible to the development worker. Many of the cultures of the poor protect their women by walling them off from the world. They are made invisible intentionally to outsiders, and especially to men. In development we now know that the only way to get behind the wall is to use women development workers.
Women are of critical importance to effective community development in a second way. Studies repeatedly have revealed that community development efforts fail when they ignore the role of women in the social and economic life of the community, and that they succeed when they address the needs of women.
For example, the simple act of helping women learn to read is strongly associated with lower child mortality, improvement in child care and nutrition, literacy in succeeding generations, and improvement in family income-generating activity.
The conclusion is inescapable: empowering women is one of the keys to transforming the larger community.
In recent years MARC has been carrying out field research on the intersection of community development and evangelism. As we observed the strategic role of women in development work, we began to wonder whether women might play some special role in the spread of the gospel as well.
If the education and empowerment of women leads to other kinds of positive social change, might women also be critical to spiritual transformation as well? Such a connection might provide important strategic insight with regard to some of the larger unreached people groups that have been highly resistant to traditional forms of evangelism.
We set out to see if there was any evidence to support such a conjecture. In our struggle to find some answers, a lot of other discoveries emerged as well. I’d like to share our pilgrimage with you.
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