There’s a great opinion piece in the Sydney Morning Herald by New York Times journo Nicholas Kristof. Oddly, it’s not on smh.com.au, but here’s a link to it in the NY Times: Religions and women:
Religions derive their power and popularity in part from the ethical compass they offer. So why do so many faiths help perpetuate something that most of us regard as profoundly unethical: the oppression of women?
He quotes former Irish president and member of The Elders, Mary Robinson: “We all recognised that if there’s one overarching issue for women it’s the way that religion can be manipulated to subjugate women.”
Today, when religious institutions exclude women from their hierarchies and rituals, the inevitable implication is that females are inferior. The Elders are right that religious groups should stand up for a simple ethical principle: any person’s human rights should be sacred, and not depend on something as earthly as their genitals.
As well as being bad for women, religion – specifically, Islam – is often used to dismiss Western feminism. You know, ‘if you women were serious you wouldn’t be wasting your time on petty things like paid maternity leave and equal pay for equal work, you’d be taking on Islam’. It’s a ridiculous argument. After all, no one tells The Smith Family they shouldn’t be helping disadvantaged Australian kids because there are starving children in Africa. (By the way, the Smith Family has a great initiative where you can sponsor the education of one of the 680,000 disadvantaged kids here, and it costs the same as sponsoring a child through World Vision.)
And since we’re talking about religion being bad for women, you know what I find puzzling? That Tony Abbott is big on Indigenous rights, but not on women’s reproductive rights. He’s taking on Queensland’s Wild Rivers legislation.