History -- women's history -- is being made each day by women around the world as they step out in solidarity and support of their sisters and the causes that give justice to women and children. Read these headlines and the brief stories behind them and celebrate the women who are taking risks to make the world a better place for all.
Equity Payments to Canadian Women
In the 1970s, Canada adopted a law that called for "equal pay for work of equal value." All jobs were rated and supposedly inequities were erased. But as is often the case, some federal jobs -- primarily jobs held by women -- were not ranked using the criteria of the law: comparable education, responsibility, mental demands and working conditions.
The women sued. Now, 20 years later, the Canadian government has agreed to pay $2.3 billion to 230,000 past and present federal workers. They will be paid back salaries with interest to conform to the law.
For some of these women, the payments are coming late in life, but they are still welcome. And they signal to all that equal pay for work of equal value is an important concept.
Afghan Women Defy Government to Get Schooling
When the Taliban took power in Afghanistan several years ago, the education of girls and women was outlawed. In spite of the law, small groups of women are conducting classes for girls in private homes and other secret locations. They are operating quietly with few resources but with the support of their families and communities.
Most of the teachers are women who taught in the public schools before the ban. Girls invited to attend are those who can be trusted not to reveal the schools' existence. The schools -- a form of resistance -- were not created for that purpose. They were created to educate the girl children.
Ethnic Albanian Women Removing Land Mines
Sixty-eight women in the eastern corner of Kosovo have trained for the sensitive work of removing land mines from farms, gardens, schools and playgrounds. Many of these women are the primary breadwinners for their families. They are proud to be taking on this important responsibility.
The work is dangerous, but is needed to make their community liveable. These women are working so children can go back to school, so kitchen gardens can be planted, so farmers can again work their fields.
Women of Vieques Join Protest Against U.S. Navy
Mothers, teachers, retired educators and community leaders have joined in the religious acts of witness against the presence of and military actions by the U.S. Navy on the Island of Vieques, Puerto Rico. Women are supporting and often leading the effort by community and religious groups to return the island to the people, so they can live in a healthy, clean environment.
In recent months, the Navy has said it intends to resume bombing practice on the island after seven months without such action. A peaceful Vieques is essential to the well-being of human, plant and animal life on the island.
The women of Vieques are calling for our support and urge us to stand in solidarity with them. Staff and directors of the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries are participating in monthly vigils on the island at least through April 2000. Keep these people and the people of Vieques in your prayers.
Beyond the headlines
Many women are not making the headlines. They are going about daily tasks of raising their children; providing for their families; supporting themselves and others; giving care to those in need; practicing and living their faith; and surviving, often in difficult and dangerous situations.
We salute and celebrate all women in every corner of the world who have a vision of the world being a better place for all God's creation. Thanks be to God for women of faith and vision.
Joyce D. Sohl
Deputy General Secretary