How Are Women More or Less Free? And What Can We Do About It?

Emily Nielsen Jones, President and C0-Founder of Imago Dei Fund, examines the status of gender equality within the larger context of freedom.

Fourth of July, 2017 came and went, but Lady Liberty’s vigil continues, reminding us of the brave work required in every generation to truly live as a free people.

As we turn the page on the 4th of July this year, report after report like the Freedom in the World 2017 and the 2017 Social Progress Index confirm a feeling in the air today: freedom is not currently advancing but rather is in decline. According to these reports, 2016 marked the 11th consecutive year of decline in global freedom.

“In past years we generally saw declines in freedom among autocracies and dictatorships,” describes Arch Puddington, one of Freedom In the World 2017’s co-authors, “but in 2016 it was established democracies that dominated the list of countries suffering setbacks.” The US was among a list of “Free” countries – including Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Hungary, Poland, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, and Tunisia – where freedom was found to be in decline as “populist and nationalist forces made significant gains.”

As has been the case in every authoritarian cultural context, a subtext in these reports – and a refrain I have heard over and over again from women’s human rights leaders around the world – is that women and girls have been disproportionately bearing the brunt of freedom’s decline.

We are all in the same boat in freedom’s decline—black, brown, white, male, female and everything in between—and in the work of getting freedom moving forward again. Join us in this two-part post-4th of July reflection and ask yourself how you can be a little more brave, how you can put a little more skin in the game, to get the freedom needle moving forward again for all human beings, in particular the female half of “We the People” who were in fact the longest running group excluded from the ranks of the freeborn here and around the world.

Cross-Posted from Imago Dei Fund’s Inukshuk Blog.

Post #1: Land of the Free, Home of the Brave: Taking Down All “Monuments” to Our Enslaving Past (Not Just Around Race, Gender too)

Post #2: “Women Are The Devil’s Gateway”: Connecting the Historic & Global Dots Between Archaic-sounding “Handmaid’s Tale” Gender Practices Rising Up Around the World and More “Mainstream” Gender “Monuments” that Persist in Our Churches

 

Author: Emily Nielsen Jones

Emily is a donor-activist engaged in promoting human equality, justice, and peace around the world. She is particularly passionate and engaged in the nexus of faith, gender, and development and working to mobilize our faith traditions to more fully and unambiguously embrace gender equality. In her role at the Imago Dei Fund, Emily has helped the foundation adopt a “gender-lens” in its grantmaking with a particular focus on partnering with inspired female change agents, locally and around the world, to build bridges of peace and create a world where girls and women can thrive and achieve their full human potential. Emily is actively engaged in the women-led philanthropy movement, is the author of numerous articles, and is a member of Women Moving Millions and the Women's Donor Network. She is the recipient of the Christians for Biblical Equality 2013 Micah Award and was named a 2014 Women’s eNews “21 Leaders of the 21st Century” honoree. Emily serves on the advisory boards of Women Thrive, New England International Donor Network, the Boston Women’s Fund, Union Theological School, Nomi Network, Girl Rising, Tostan, and Sojourners Founders’ Circle. She was a proud supporter of the Women's March for America and is looking for ways to make sure this becomes not just a march but a movement.

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