My wife and I went to see the movie SUFFRAGETTE. It is a powerful presentation of the movement to win voting rights for women in Great Britain at the beginning of the 20th century. Carey Mulligan plays the lead role of a working class mother who became involved in the cause and in the process loses her husband and her son. It is hard for us to imagine the misogynist view of men that prevailed at that time.
I was raised in a family and a society that accepted the equal rights of women. New Zealand was the first country in the world to give the vote to women (1893). Yet even today there are cultures and religions that deny women such rights. They are denied opportunities to fulfill their God-given potential. No woman should ever feel inferior or less worthy than a man.
Christianity, in Mary, and the female disciples of Jesus, has elevated the role of women to the highest rank. That is one reason among many why the religion of Islam is so contrary to the Christian Gospel. In many developing regions and countries, millions of women are “missing” – killed by infanticide, gender-based abortions, or systematic discrimination. The female population in China alone has been decreased by nearly 40 million. About I in every 3 girls worldwide is not educated past fourth grade. Women own less than 1% of the world’s property. They earn 10% of the world’s income.
It was hard for the suffragettes to gain the respect of the political leaders of their day. Even the press would not report their activities until Emily Davison, a graduate of St. Hugh’s College, Oxford, threw herself in front of the King’s horse at the Epsom Derby in 1913. It was filmed live by Pathe News and became a sensational story. The funeral of Emily Davison was a national event and the politicians could not deny the momentum of the movement any more. Although World War I delayed the granting of votes for women it finally came in 1920 in the USA with the passing of the 19th amendment to the Constitution and in 1928 in the United Kingdom.
Jesus chose Mary Magdalene to be the first person he revealed himself to after the resurrection and commissioned her to preach the good news to the other disciples. There is no male or female in Christ (Galatians 3:28), for we are all one in Christ Jesus. No modern man, or any current politician should presume to tell women what to do. Instead we should honor them for their sacrificial service to us all.