International Wo(Woe)men's Day – 2013
Fr Paul Lelen Haokip *
International Women's Day observation organised by United NGOs Mission, Manipur at Tamenglong in 2011 :: Pix - TSE
"The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish tears it down with her own hands" [Proverbs 14:1]. International Women's Day originally called International Working Women's Day, is marked on March 8 every year. In 1975, which was designated as International Women's Year, the United Nations gave official sanction to, and began sponsoring, International Women's Day (IWD). "A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women" is the theme for this year's IWD.
The year 2012 saw lots of heinous crimes committed against women in India. The dailies of Manipur also repeatedly report instances of crime on women. In different regions, the focus of the celebrations ranges from general celebration of respect, appreciation and love towards women to a celebration for women's economic, political and social achievements. Started as a Socialist political event, the holiday blended in the culture of many countries, primarily Eastern Europe, Russia, and the former Soviet bloc.
In some regions, the day lost its political flavor, and became simply an occasion for men to express their love for women in a way somewhat similar to a mixture of Mother's Day and Valentine's Day. In other regions, however, the original political and human rights theme designated by the United Nations runs strong, and political and social awareness of the struggles of women worldwide are brought out and examined in a hopeful manner.
Biblical stand on Women:
In Titus 2, saint Paul commends women to love their husbands and children (Titus 2:4). The older women were to teach the younger women to be self-controlled, chaste, good managers of the household, kind, being submissive to their husbands, so that the word of God may not be discredited (Titus 2:5). 1 Peter states that when wives submit to their husband's leadership, they are doing it as service to God (1 Pet. 3:1-4).
A woman can be a great blessing and help to her husband, just as Eve was to Adam at the beginning of creation. Scripture does not forbid a woman working outside of the home. Some women did appear to have businesses (Proverbs 31), but a woman's first priority is to her husband, family and home life.
Manipur Women Leadership:
The Sangai Express Editorial: March 21, 2012 reads, "From the first woman MLA in the Manipur Legislative Assembly in the person of the late Hangmila Shaiza from Ukhrul Assembly Constituency in 1990/91 to O Landhoni (Khangabok Assembly AC), AK Mirabai (Patsoi AC) and Mrs Nemcha Kipgen (Kangpokpi AC) in 2012, the path to the floor of the State Assembly for the women of Manipur has not been easy nor has it been insurmountable either.
In between, Manipur saw K Apabi Devi from Oinam AC and later W Leima Devi from Naoriya Pakhanglakpa AC when the MSCP was a towering force under the stewardship of the troika of W Nipamacha, Dr L Chandramani and Th Chaoba. W Leima Devi even went on to become a Minister of State at that point of time when jumbo sized ministry was very much an important vocabulary in Ministry formation.
For 18 long years, that is from 1972 till 1990/91, Manipur had to wait for her first woman MLA and if the 10th State Legislative Assembly has seen the Congress scripting history by winning 42 seats in the 60 member Assembly, then it has also notched up another remarkable first in seeing three women MLAs at a time".
Irom Chanu Sharmila, the iron Lady of India/Manipur has made waves around the world on her belief to repeal AFSPA. The Nupilal Memorial Hall, the Ima Keithel and the undaunting Meira Paibis and the the various other Tribal Women Organisations stand out as ample proof to the world that Manipur Women are second to none in their participation to bring about prosperity, peace and harmony in this tiny State.
The Unique Creation of Women:
At creation, God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam and from him God took a rib and made a woman (Genesis 2:21). God must have caused a deep sleep so that man could not interfere in His creation. God must have taken more time to design the woman to possess qualities of gentleness, love, kindness, care to supplement the virtues of man. Woman was not made from the head of man to be the superior of man nor from the feet of man to be inferior to him but made from the rib of Man to signify that she is equal to him to protect the heart of man. She was a direct gift from the hand of God, made from man and for man (1 Corinthians 11:9).
"Male and female, He created them" (Genesis 1:27) each different but made to complete and complement each other. Although the woman is considered the "weaker vessel" (1 Peter 3:7), this does not make her inferior. She was made with a purpose in life that only she could fill. To woman has been given one of the greatest privileges in the world, that of molding and nurturing a living soul.
Proverbs 31:10-31 tells in detail what kind of helpmate the woman is to be. The supportive role of the wife to the husband is very evident in this description of the ideal woman. She "will do him good and not evil." Because of her honesty, modesty and chastity, "her husband doth safely trust in her." By her efficiency and diligence she would look well to her household. The basis for her virtue is found in verse 30: "a woman that feareth the Lord." This is a reverential fear that gives meaning and purpose to her life. Only as the Lord lives in her heart can she be the woman she was meant to be.
Irreplaceable Responsibilities of Women:
Perhaps the greatest joy of women is 'motherhood' and a mother is the heartbeat of the home. Woman's first duty is the making and keeping of her home. Many a modern woman chooses a career, hires a baby-sitter, and rushes her children through childhood so that she can be free to pursue her (selfish) interests. The Bible teaches that women are to be "keepers at home" (Titus 2:5).
This means a woman is to be there, loving her husband, teaching and enjoying her children, and applying the homemaking arts with joy in her heart. She helps lay the foundation of moral standards there. The warmth of her spirit quietly establishes security in the lives of little children-confidence, that in spite of their problems and fears, all will be right. Why would any woman trade this noble place for some money earned or for some coveted position? This Bible way is not just being old-fashioned; it is God's order. The women who wholeheartedly accept God's plan will be blessed.
In certain instances, a woman's role extends beyond her home. Examples are given in both the Old and New Testaments of godly women who had responsibilities in God's kingdom. As she exercises her inborn attributes of love, gentleness, and compassion, she is a living example of that which becomes godliness.
Service is the nobility of Women:
In Old Testament times some of the women made things for the Tabernacle (Ex.35:25,26). No matter how small and insignificant the job may appear to be, remember that He [she] that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much, (Lk. 16:10), and the Lord will reward faithful service (Mt.25:21).
In Japan people take off their shoes and put on the slippers provided when they enter a Christian meeting place. The shoes are left in the entry hall facing into the building just as the wearer left them.
However when the service is over and the people get ready to leave they will find that someone has thoughtfully turned all the shoes to face in the opposite direction, toward the door, so that now their owners can slip into them easily and leave more quickly, thus relieving the congestion in the entry hail. A small, unimportant job? Not really ... this "shoe-turner-around" is serving the whole church.
Teaching of the Children:
The first school of every child is the Family. Women play a vital role in forming the children. Jochebed faithfully taught her little boy Moses about the true God so that he continued to follow the Lord even when as a child he left home to live in Pharaoh's heathen palace. Eunice did the same and her son Timothy became a faithful servant of God, 2 Tim. 1:5; 3:15. True, these women taught their own children, and so should we, but there is no reason why we should not include other children, especially those who have no Christian parents. The Lord Jesus loves the children and wants them to come to Him (Lk. 18:15-17).
Here the woman of Shunem comes to mind, 2 Kings 4:8-10. She made God's prophet Elijah most welcome and comfortable. Romans 12:13 tells us we should practise hospitality. So does Hebrews 13:2 which no doubt refers to Abraham (Gen: 18). Entertaining the Lord's servants requires effort and time and money, but Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit, tells us to do it without grumbling, (1Pet.4.9).
Entertaining can be a means of reaching the unsaved. I know a couple whose dinner table is surrounded every Sunday by ten to twenty students from a near-by university. Among them are Hindus, Moslems and atheists. All are welcome.
All feel at home and come back whenever they can. What a tremendous opportunity! By this means we can show people the love of God and minister to both their physical and spiritual needs.
Deborah was a prophetess and a judge in Israel. She encouraged Barak to lead the people of Israel in their fight against their enemies (Judges 4). We can be an encouragement to our brethren, especially to the younger ones. How? By a word of appreciation for what they are doing, by telling them we stand with them in prayer as they preach or minister the Word or make difficult decisions regarding problems in the assembly.
No world can be imagined bereft of women. No home will be complete without mothers. No society can be whole devoid of the tenderness, patience and kindness of the women folk. Man shall be completely incomplete in the absence of women. No society can be truly called developed until "Violence to Women" stops eternally.
May the violence on women from womb to tomb have an end. Let these be our slogans "No more Violence to Women", "Respect for Women".
* Fr Paul Lelen Haokip wrote this The Sangai Express
This article was posted on March 09, 2013
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