Every now and then a statistic will catch you a little unawares. Yes, I do realise that 'there are lies, damn lies and statistics', but sometimes these figures can be true - and alarming.
I was reminded by a Tweet this morning that today is International Women's Day. Why, some might think, is that an issue for me? After all, you're a bloke: what have women's problems got to do with you?
The answer is (and I'm trying desperately not to come across as cynical or sarcastic here, because I don't want to; nor do I want to appear patronising in any way) that it is my problem, it is an issue for me, because we should all be concerned that around half of the world's population are not treated the same as the other half, simply because of their gender.
The Tweet that reminded me of today's significance also stated that 'globally women do 66% work, earn 10% income & own 1% property'. Not just as a Christian, but also as a human being, that is just not right. Sadly we have created a system in the world that is heavily male-dominated, and even in the 'enlightened' West that is still often the case. We in the Methodist tradition often, perhaps rightly, criticise other Christian traditions for not allowing women to fill positions of influence, authority and power (not a word I'm 100% comfortable with in the Church, but we seem to be stuck with it at the moment), yet we still have a way to go ourselves in ensuring equality without being patronising. For some very helpful and challenging insights into this from a female standpoint take a look at Angela Shier-Jones' blog.
Leaders should be recognised and set aside on the strength of their calling, gifting, ability and suitability for the task, irrespective of gender, race or orientation. If that means that we have to change the way we have traditionally done things in order to get back in step with what God is doing in God's church and God's world, then so be it. And brothers, we need to hear the anger, the frustration and the indignation of our sisters who feel belittled and patronised by the inherent paternalism not just in the Church but in society too.
I cannot truly feel your pain, but I hope I can stand alongside you and hear your frustration.