To those on the outside looking in, the story of women and girls’ social advancement may look like a road paved with victories. To those within the sphere of feminist philanthropy, however, that road has more twists and turns than many realize. We cannot deny the progress we’ve made in recent years, but we also cannot ignore the inequality, violence, and oppression women and girls still face around the world today.
But where does this oppression come from? When did we as a society learn to value boys over girls, to treat women like property or lesser beings? Why do we have to fight against it in the first place?
Imago Dei Fund, through a free program presented by Emily Nielsen Jones and Rev. Domnic Misolo, seeks to answer these questions with a six-month reading journey through the history of patriarchy. Examining the liberation of women through historic and faith-based lenses, “The Girl Child & Her Long Walk to Freedom: Putting Faith to Work Through Love to Break Ancient Chains” offers participants six months a guided tour with readings, group discussions, and reflections centered around the emancipation of girls and women.
Beginning on October 11, 2020 (the International Day of the Girl Child) and culminating with a program reflection on March 8, 2021 (International Women’s Day), this six-month program provides a new perspective on the history of patriarchy, its intersections with faith systems, and the ways love and faith can be put to work to restore balance within society.
“As a mother of a daughter, as someone raised in an an all-girl family, as a person who grew up in the church, and as someone engaged in global philanthropy and some form of activism my whole life, I mostly presumed the needle was marching forward for women and girls’ rights,” says Emily Nielsen Jones, co-author of the program and President/Co-Founder of Imago Dei Fund. “But a few years ago, I hit this point where my soul was crushed to the core seeing gender regressions happening all over the world and in my own faith pond within American evangelicalism. At the same time, I was inspired by meeting incredible change agents around the world who were motivated by their faith to do something to bravely challenge and transform patriarchal gender norms within their own cultures and religions. So I got the idea for this reading journey and enlisted my comrade Rev. Domnic Misolo to join me as a coauthor.”
Over the course of six months, participants will read The Girl Child & Her Long Walk to Freedom, an e-book written by Jones and Misolo, chapter by chapter. During monthly video meetings, participants will break down the readings and discuss their implications through the lenses of history, religion, and today’s society.
According to the Girl Child website, “This reading journey unpacks the history of patriarchy, shares how patriarchy is both invisible and everywhere in our lives, introduces present-day faith-inspired change agents, and helps readers better understand how to walk the exodus path toward liberation from this oldest oppression.”
The central figure of the program is “The Girl Child,” a figure who stands in for the collective work of billions of women and girls across the face of history. “The Girl Child” represents those who have spoken up against the oppression of women and girls, and figures both prominent and unknown that have worked to elevate women.
Across history, The Girl Child has faced an “intolerable status quo” when compared to her brothers, fathers, and male companions. The six-month reading journey will also explore this status quo, drawing on troubling statistics about women and girls’ survival, economic and social prospects, and more around the world.
“What motivates me is very simply that I don’t want the needle to go backward for my daughter’s generation and her daughter’s generation, and also for my mother and her generation, who gave me and my sisters a freer world to grow up in,” writes Emily Nielsen Jones. “I hope you can join us on this journey!”
To register for this free six-month reading journey, visit the program website at www.girlchildlongwalk.org. The program begins on October 11, 2020, and culminates on International Women’s Day (March 8, 2021).
Editor’s Note: Emily Nielsen Jones is a founding sponsor and ongoing financial supporter of Philanthropy Women.
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