Reflections on the Social and Ecological Impacts of Religious Patriarchy

Vol. 2, No. 1, January 2006

Luis T. Gutierrez

Humanity is currently on a global journey from patriarchy to solidarity, sustainability, and sustainable human development. The Solidarity & Sustainability newsletter is a series of reflections on how to mitigate patriarchal barriers to human development and, in particular, how to overcome the enormous obstacles caused by religious patriarchies. The newsletter integrates existing and emerging knowledge (empirical evidence, tradition, relevant experience, wisdom) to show that true religion radically transcends the patriarchal mindset. In fact, true religion always enhances human development, and should never be an obstacle to it. The "Millennium Development Goals" of the United Nations are used as a point of reference.

Theme of this Issue:
Synthesis of Solidarity and Sustainability


There is an intrinsic unity between solidarity and sustainability. Neither one can be achieved without the other. Like the two sides of the same coin, or the two wings of a bird, both are necessary for sustainable human development. This issue attempts to clarify the nature of this unity.

Religious patriarchies are resisting the emergence of such unity with fierce determination. The ferocity of patriarchally organized religion is most evident in the East. The resistance by religious institutions in the West is more subtle, but equally harmful to humanity and the human habitat.

The best defense against fundamentalist, pseudoreligious terrorism is not to answer violence with violence. The best defense is to confront terrorism with a solid universal commitment to solidarity, sustainability, and gender equity. Religious fanatics are seldom afraid of bullets, but they often suffer from fear of women (gynophobia) and, therefore, fear of losing control over women.

In the long term, God's will and human reason shall prevail. Both prayer and hard work will be required to overcome the patriarchal mindset. Let us pray for increased awareness that patriarchy is evil disguised as goodness. Let us keep working hard via international and interreligious dialogue.

The future of human civilization, and the future integrity of the human habitat, depend on a mindset shift from patriarchy to solidarity-sustainability, and sooner rather than later. If we really believe that God is Love, then we know that divine help will not be lacking during this transition.











In this series of reflections, it is time to recognize that the complexity of the issues under consideration is not amenable to mathematical modeling. This is crudely portrayed in Figure 1 by showing feedback webs both within and between the patriarchy, solidarity, sustainability, and sustainable development phases of the process model.



Human Person

Human Habitat



Figure 1 - Process Model of Feedback Webs

Clearly, controlled experimentation with the total system shown in Figure 1 is unfeasible. There are no general theories from which specific conclusions can be deduced for any particular set of conditions. Nevertheless, we must forge ahead, using human reason and common sense. At some points we may be able to use empirical data, but most of the time we must proceed inductively and intuitively, on the basis of experience tempered by wisdom.

Religious traditions offer an enormous reservoir of divine wisdom, but divine wisdom is always mediated by human wisdom and must, therefore, be constantly scrutinized against the "signs of the times" [01]. For the voice of God resounds in the events of history as history unfolds, and only by being attentive to it can humanity find the right path toward the future; lest we become prisoners of, either ancient prejudice disguised as divine wisdom, or future divinations disguised as human foresight.

As we forge ahead in the midst of this blizzard of complexity and uncertainty, it is wise to take one step at a time, one day at a time. Let's keep an attitude of humility and outmost respect for every human person and institution, regardless of current practices and cultural trends. Human dialogue is hard work, and even more so when it is international or interreligious. We seek the truth, in freedom, with care. We ask forgiveness if anything written in this newsletter is offensive to anyone.


The concept of solidarity has been discussed and documented in previous issues of this newsletter [02]. Basically, it entails thinking and acting in a way that balances individual needs and the common good. It is more than just an intellectual concept or a model for making decisions. It is also a modus operandi in which solidarity decisions lead to solidarity actions, as suggested by the following cartoon:

Figure 2. Solidarity Ethos
Source: Twin Cities Anti-War Committee

The patriarchal mindset is manifested by the triple addiction to wealth accumulation, absolute power, and worldly honors. This triple addiction is observable in both secular and religious institutions. The solidarity ethos is the oppositum per diametrum of the patriarchal mindset. The solidarity ethos is manifested by the triple practice of mutual cooperation, decentralization of power, and egalitarian behavior. Solidarity has nothing to do with sentimentality. It has to do with thinking and working hard for the common good of humanity. The transition from patriarchy to solidarity is part of the journey toward sustainable human development.


The concept of sustainability has been discussed and documented in previous issues of this newsletter [03]. Basically, it entails taking good care of the human habitat. Needless to say, taking good care of the human habitat is intrinsic to human solidarity, so thinking and acting for sustainability goes hand in hand with thinking and acting for solidarity. But it would be unwise to assume that most people see the connection. In fact, most people still don't. Therefore, making people aware of the need for sustainability is as critical as increasing awareness of the need for human solidarity. Such awareness should be learned early at home and school.

Figure 2. Sustainability Ethos
Source: Enviropedia: Introduction to Sustainability

Once again, the patriarchal mindset is manifested by the triple addiction to wealth accumulation, absolute power, and worldly honors. This triple addiction is often satiated at the expense of the human habitat: renewable natural resources are mismanaged, nonrenewable resources are wasted in unnecessary displays of extravagance (both secular and religious), conservation of biodiversity is subordinated to short term profits, etc. The sustainability ethos, like the solidarity ethos, is the oppositum per diametrum of the patriarchal mindset. The sustainability ethos is manifested (in both secular and religious institutions) by explicitly taking into account the integrity of the biosphere, the human habitat, as part of the common good of present and future human generations. The transition from patriarchy to solidarity and sustainability is part of the journey toward sustainable human development.


Taking care of the human habitat is always for the common good of humanity. It follows, that "solidarity without sustainability" is but a pretension of solidarity. Conversely, sustainability without solidarity is a logical impossibility; for sustainability decisions and actions are contingent on the solidarity ethos. This intrinsic unity between solidarity and sustainability needs to be well understood; else, it is not possible to do better in human development. Is it possible to improve human development via education, technology, and any other means, when people are starving to death, getting sick due to poor sanitation, dying in useless wars?

In this context, the foreign aid programs of the "developed" countries are ludicrous in terms of volume, let alone in terms of the mismanagement that allows most of the funds to end up in the hands of corrupt third world bureaucracies. And the work of religious charities, good as it may be, brings to mind the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). Consider the huge basilica of Our Lady of Peace, recently built in Yamoussoukro, Ivory Coast, at a cost of over 300 million dollars of public funds [04]. Consider the property value of all cathedrals worldwide [05]. Given that at least 20% of the world population lives below the poverty level [06], it is hard to imagine that these displays of religious extravagance are for the glory of God and the good of humanity. It is recognized that many of these cathedrals are centuries old, but the problem is that they keep building them [07].

The following table attempts to capture the essence of this intrinsic unity between solidarity and sustainability.

[arrow1c] [arrow1c] [arrow1c]
[arrow4c] Solidarity means "a union of interests, purposes, or sympathies among members of a group; fellowship of responsibilities and interests." It does not mean complete absence of disagreements.

Human solidarity at the local, national, and global levels can be exercised only if there is a fair balance between individual gain and the common good at all levels. This in turn requires fair negotiation of checks and balances within and between levels.

Cross-gender solidarity is the heart of human solidarity. At any level, gender inequity precludes any other dimension of the solidarity ethos from taking root.

Subsidiarity means "that a central authority should have a subsidiary function, performing only those tasks which cannot be performed effectively at a more immediate or local level." In other words, decisions are to be made at the lowest possible level.

Subsidiarity is the glue of checks and balances within and between local, national, and global levels. Solidarity and sustainability are jointly attainable only by fair negotiation of those checks and balances.

The subsidiarity glue is effective only if it includes appropriate checks and balances pertaining to gender equity. When gender inequities prevail, solidarity becomes unsustainable.

Sustainability means "meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs." It means conserving and transmitting the integrity of the human habitat.

At all levels, humanity can take good care of the human habitat, and thereby ensure sustainability, only if the practice of subsidiarity includes the checks and balances specifically required for sustainable human development. Gender balance is the name of the game.

Cross-gender solidarity is the heart of human solidarity, and therefore the heart of sustainability. At any level, gender inequity precludes both the solidarity ethos and the sustainability ethos from taking root.

[arrow3c] [arrow3c] [arrow3c]

Table 1 - Unity of Solidarity, Subsidiarity, and Sustainability

In brief, sustainability requires solidarity decisions and actions in order to be feasible. Solidarity requires a context of sustainability to enable decision makers to balance short term and long term benefits. Subsidiarity, in the form of checks and balances, is the operational "glue" that keeps solidarity and sustainability in sync. The critical importance of this "glue" follows from the fact that authentic solidarity does not preclude disagreements and even opposition to prevailing laws and policies; on the contrary, such opposition becomes a civic duty when members of a community have legitimate concerns or complaints. Then, appropriate "checks and balances" are required to ensure that there is dialogue and negotiation pursuant to a diligent, fair resolution of the issue; else, solidarity becomes unsustainable.


Patriarchal resistance to progress toward solidarity, sustainability, and gender equity is most evident in the East. The following cases, recently in the news, illustrate the situation:

[redmark] The case of Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar (Burma), who has been in prison or under house arrest for over 10 years. Her crime: to campaign for democratic reforms and an end to the military dictatorship in Burma [08].
[redmark] The repression of democratic groups in Iran, including the recent closure of a newspaper and a magazine. The fundamentalist Islamic theocracy in Iran is also pressing for a regression to force women to wear the chador [09].
[redmark] The persistent resistance, in Japan and other Asian countries, to women assuming roles of public leadership and, in particular, roles of religious authority [10].
[redmark] The continued practices of discrimination against women and girls, such as female infanticide in China, public harassment of women in fundamentalist Islamic countries, bride burnings in India, etc. These brutal gender apartheid practices continue despite mounting evidence that they have negative social repercussions, including the perpetuation of poverty and hunger [11].
[redmark] The indiscriminate terrorist attacks in which many civilians die. Recently, in Iraq, toys were reportedly found to be booby-trapped; even children are being targeted to die! [12].

There is great concern in the West about the threat of terrorism coming from some fundamentalist groups in the East. The "war on terror" is not the solution. The solution is a radical commitment to solidarity, sustainability, and full gender equity in the West, in both society and religion. Religious fanatics generally suffer from gynophobia (fear of women). As a result, they may not be afraid of bullets and bombs, but they are terrified about losing their control over women. Let all democratic nations and all religious bodies practice gender equity with due diligence, and global communications will do the rest.


Patriarchal resistance to progress toward solidarity, sustainability, and gender equity is more subtle in the West that in the East, but still very harmful. The following cases, recently in the news, illustrate the situation:

[redmark] Several recent appointments made by President Bush to circumvent congressional approval (to be pro-life is good, to manipulate political appointments is unethical, if not illegal) [13].
[redmark] Two highly capable women have been nominated as successors of United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, but there is resistance in some quarters to appoint a woman to the top world job. What we really need is a woman pope! [14].
[redmark] There is increasing awareness that "big business" has a propensity to manipulate supply and demand in ways which are contrary to the global common good in the short term, let alone the long term [15].
[redmark] Likewise, there is increasing awareness that universities and other educational institutions are slow in removing barriers to the full inclusion of women in academic careers. If academic institutions are dragging their feet, the situation is even worst in many religious institutions, to the point of inventing new doctrines to perpetuate the exclusion of women from official ministries [16].
[redmark] There is continuing complicity of governments (at all levels) and highly profitable transnational corporations in plundering natural resources and exploiting employees and consumers in every conceivable way -- lack of occupational safety, cancellation of pensions and health benefits, poor quality products, avoidance of customer service, drug trafficking, sexual slavery ..... [17].

Some fundamentalist religious groups have declared "holy war" against the Western democracies. Stuffing democracy down their throats is not the solution. Full gender equity is the solution. Full gender equity (in both society and religion) is the "weapon of mass destruction" that would put an end to violent religious fundamentalism, and without having to go to war. Most people can distinguish between right and wrong. Let Western democracies and Christian churches achieve gender equity, and global communications will do the walking!


Prayer and action should go together, and action is better preceded by prayer. One form of prayer is meditation, i.e., prayerful reflection on issues of personal and social concern. There are many variations of prayer and meditation practices, but a good text is usually helpful to get started. There are, of course, sacred texts like the Bible and the Quran. But these ancient texts require careful interpretation to really understand the intent of the original authors; else, anyone can prove anything using specific verses from the Bible or the Quran.

The United Nations library and websites provide some excellent resources for meditation, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, approved by the general assembly in 1948, and the current Millennium Development Goals. These are excellent for prayer and meditation. Am I reflecting on the need to respect human rights? Am I reflecting on human development goals pursuant to mitigate poverty and hunger, promote peace with justice, and promote gender equity? Am I doing what I can do, no matter how minimal, in my own family and my own local community?

Another approach is make recourse to a good book, one written by someone who has credibility as to being faithful to the original sources. One such book was recommended to me recently, and I think it is an excellent book for those in the Christian tradition. The book is Scattering the Proud: Christianity Beyond 2000, by Sean O'Connaill, Columba Press, 2003, 104 pages. To get started, there is a Book Summary as well as Chapter Summaries available online.

So many articles are being published on meditation and human development, that it is time consuming to search for the good ones. But there is an article in the December 2005 issue of Spirituality & Health that you don't want to miss: Cooperative Evolution: Why the Human Species Will Finally Grow Up, by Louise Danielle Palmer. It is an extensive interview with renowned evolution biologist Elisabet Sahtouris. Acording to Sahtouris, evolution from competition to cooperation is our future, and the key to survivability and sustainability; and she explains why. Don't miss it!

I would like to hear about good books to meditate on solidarity, sustainability, and gender equity from the perspective of other religious traditions. Please let me hear from you if you have a recommendation. We live in a complex world in rapid transition. It is time for humanity to overcome unfair practices, useless wars, and all forms of violence. May God help us all during this transition. And may this transition, painful as it may be, lead us to a better world for our children and grandchildren.


The following list of selected references does not provide a comprehensive bibliography. Care has been taken to include references that reflect opposite viewpoints in some controversial issues. Some references are supplemented by relevant quotations as well as brief comments relevant to solidarity, sustainability, patriarchy, and gender equity issues.

[01] Thomas Carlyle, Signs of the Times, Edinburgh Review, 1829. Reprinted in volume 3 of The Collected Works of Thomas Carlyle, 16 volumes, Chapman and Hall, London, 1858. The text is available online at the The Victorian Web.

[02] See the sections on solidarity in previous newsletters:

V1 N1 May 2005: Cross-Gender Solidarity
V1 N3 July 2005: From Patriarchy to Solidarity
V1 N4 August 2005: Synthesis of Patriarchy and Solidarity
V1 N5 September 2005: From Solidarity to Sustainability
V1 N8 December 2005: Solidarity, Subsidiarity, and Sustainability
The following are some additional references available online:

Definition of Solidarity, Wikipedia, 2005. The Equality of Men and Women, Abdu'l-Bahá, meeting of the Women's Freedom League, London, January 1913. Global Solidarity Dialogue, Peter Waterman and Daniel Chavez, 2001. How Islam and Modernity can be Reconciled: A pattern of mutual support, by Mohammed Arkoun, Le Monde diplomatique, April 2003. Christian Solidarity International, based in Switzerland, 1977-2006. Christian Solidarity Worldwide, based in the UK, 2004-2006. A SEED Europe, Action for Solidarity, Equality, Environment, and Development Europe, 1991-2006. See also A SEED Japan, 2005. Maquila Solidarity Network, Secretariat of the Ethical Trading Action Group, Canada, 1995-2006.

[03] See the sections on sustainability in previous newsletters:

V1 N5 September 2005: From Solidarity to Sustainability
V1 N6 October 2005: Dimensions of Sustainability
V1 N8 December 2005: Solidarity, Subsidiarity, and Sustainability
The following are some additional references available online:

Definition of Sustainability, Wikipedia, 2005. The Ecocosm Paradox, by Willard R. Fey and Ann C. W. Lam, Ecocosm Dynamics Ltd, 1999. Reprinted in the Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems, 5 volumes, UNESCO, 2001. The Bridge to Humanity's Future, by Willard R. Fey and Ann C. W. Lam, Ecocosm Dynamics Ltd, 2000. Reprinted in the Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems, 5 volumes, UNESCO, 2001. Sustainability: Human, Social, Economic, and Environmental, by Robert Goodland, World Bank, 2002. Reprinted in the Encyclopedia of Global Environmental Change, Wiley & Sons, 2004. Introduction to Sustainability, Enviropedia, 2005.

[04] See Globetrotter Website - Ivory Coast and CIA World Fact Book - Cote d'Ivoire for more information on lavish basilicas and mosques in a country that is only 20% Christian, 20% Muslim, and very poor (37% of the population live below the poverty line).

[05] List of Cathedrals, Wikipedia, as of 4 January 2006.

[06] Demography and Poverty, Aqdas Ali Kazmi, The News International, 10 June 2004. "The population living on less than US $ 1 a day is estimated at 1.2 billion (20 percent of the total) while the population living on less than US $ 2 a day is placed at 3.0 billion that is 50 percent of the total world population."

[07] One example is the grandiose cathedral of the Holy Family in Barcelona, Spain, which is still unfinished: Spain's Sagrada Familia cathedral slowly builds on its designer's dreams, Andrew Selsky, AP, 26 April 1996. Another example of empire building is the recently completed cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles, California: "The new site is ideal for a Cathedral Church. It sits on an elevated section of downtown Los Angeles, the old Bunker Hill, where it is seen by millions of people each year as they travel the busy Hollywood Freeway." Yet another extravagance is the current project to install Italian ceiling mosaics at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC (see New mosaics, made in Italy, to be installed at national shrine, Carol Zimmermann, Catholic News Service, 29 December 2005), "funded with money that had been set aside for it." When are they going to start selling properties and give the money to the poor (Mark 10:21)?

[08] Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Asian Tribune, 6 January 2006. "As of today, Aung San Suu Kyi has been detained for a total of 10 years and 71 days. Aung San Suu Kyi is now serving her third term of house arrest. She was arrested on 30 May, 2003 after the regime's militia attacked her convoy and killed up to 100 of her supporters."

[09] Iran Gov't Shuts Down Newspaper, Magazine, Persian Journal, 4 January 2006. "Iran closed a daily newspaper and a magazine, one of the publications said Tuesday, in a stiffening crackdown on the press. Iran's hard-line judiciary has closed down more than 100 pro-democracy publications in the past five years on vague charges of insulting religious sensibilities or top clerics. Since the election of ultraconservative President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the government has given the judiciary a free hand to prosecute its crackdown against the media, which began in 2000." Women also are targeted when they insult "religious sensibilities or top clerics": Iran: Women First in Moral Drive, Adnkronos International, 13 December 2005. "The government of hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has begun preventing women who are not wearing the chador - the traditional Muslim head to toe veil used in Iran - from entering restaurants owned by government bodies and state institutions. For several days, the Pasdaran (Revolutionary Guards) have been standing guard outside such restaurants preventing access to any women who wear alternative forms of the hijab, such as a scarf. Iranian law stipulates that women must cover their heads in line with conservative interpretation of Islamic teaching, but does not specify how or make reference to the chador." But there are signs of hope: Women’s rights: From words to deeds, Yemen Times, 4 December 2005. "A conference on the Women Rights in the Arab World: from Words to Deeds, concludes on Monday. The conference, which lasted for three days, involved 300 Arab and world women personalities interested in women and human rights. Among the attendants were ministers, MPs, civil community women leaders and representatives from academic institutions."

[10] Equality in leadership - Asian women seek change, Phoebe Griswold and Marie Panton, Episcopal Life, 1 January 2006. "Cultural contexts continue to challenge women’s efforts to join equally in church leadership, Phoebe Griswold said after returning from meetings with women during a two-week trip to Asia. 'Traditionally, cultural values place women in a secondary role, especially, particularly, as that applies to their public voice,' she said. 'The policies and attitudes have to be adjusted to permit women into leadership circles.' ... During her travels, Griswold emphasized the importance of gender-equity in church councils and leadership bodies. At St. Andrew’s Church, Tokyo, female clergy told Griswold that her presence was an impetus for them to move forward. 'They have women priests and they are moving forward in church leadership,' she said. 'They wanted to share their struggles with a lot of disappointments.'"

[11] Happiness in employment vital for productivity, Q. Perera, Asian Tribune, 21 December 2005. "In India in smaller towns there are more hungry people than in big cities. He said that gender inequity perpetuates hunger and undernourishment. Many women and girls in many parts of the world face serious consequences as number of pregnant women due to their early undernourishment and neglected at birth and because of poverty in their families, the new born child would suffer during its entire life."

[12] Zarqawi and People’s War, J. R. Dunn , The American Thinker, 7 December 2005. "The way the media plays it, you’d think Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was the greatest Muslim strategist since Saladin. Every car bomb is a Jacob’s Ford, every massacre a Hattin, every move a masterstroke against the clumsy and inept Crusaders. He makes no errors and suffers no setbacks, and his victory, when it inevitably comes to pass, will be well-earned. .... Zarqawi’s appraisal of this factor is a matter of guesswork. What is apparent is that he has tried every conceivable obscene gimmick to regain the shock effect of early bombings: striking at hospitals, using women as warheads, targeting reporters cowering in their hotel, murdering children gathered to receive treats from Coalition troops, blowing up a wedding party in Amman, the recent discovery of children’s dolls stuffed with grenades." This atrocity had been reported in November: Iraq seizes booby-trapped toys, 24News, 24 November 2005. "Baghdad - The Iraqi army said on Thursday it had seized a number of booby-trapped children's dolls, accusing insurgents of using the explosive-filled toys to target children."

[13] US 'recess' government appointments spark anger, Holly Yeager, MSNBC, 5 January 2006. "Abortion rights activists, labour groups, top Democrats and others complained on Thursday that President George W. Bush had taken advantage of the congressional recess to make several controversial appointments."

[14] Clark, Cartwright in line to replace Kofi Annan, The National Business Review, 4 January 2006. "International women's rights organization Equality Now is lobbying for a woman to replace out-going UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan -- and two prominent New Zealand women, Helen Clark and Silvia Cartwright, are high on their list of proposed candidates."

[15] Globalization: Anachronism, Community, and the Aim towards a Sustainable Era, Alexander Rai, eTalkinghead Online News Magazine, 16 December 2005. "The modern consumer’s identity is one of rebellion: he rebels against the norms of former tradition, viewing it as antique and vintage, as something laughable; she views it as repressive, crude, and a symbol of historical gender inequity."

[16] Universities Address Gender Barriers, Jenny Zhang, The Tech, , MIT, 9 December 2005. "Barriers still exist to the full participation of women, not only in science and engineering, but also in academic fields throughout higher education .... While considerable progress has been made since 2001, we acknowledge that there are still significant steps to be taken toward making academic careers compatible with family caregiving responsibilities."

[17] The Scheme of Plunder, Mines & Communities Website, 10 December 2005. "Domination has always been carried out against the people, using at least two - combined or alternating - methods: brute force and negotiation, along with all imaginable sorts of in-between strategies. In the past 500 years, these forms of social control have been used to justify and maintain plunder, large-scale devastation and human exploitation. The European colonial system (and its followers, especially the USA), aggregated technical, scientific and psycho-social knowledge to these hegemonic methods. Colonialism has always paid special attention to collaboration, consent and complicity. For this, aside from using the armed forces, the system employs (and often prefers) political and cultural means, applied directly and indirectly."

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The following are links to previous issues of the newsletter:

V1 N1 May 2005: Cross-Gender Solidarity
V1 N2 June 2005: The Phallocentric Syndrome
V1 N3 July 2005: From Patriarchy to Solidarity
V1 N4 August 2005: Synthesis of Patriarchy and Solidarity
V1 N5 September 2005: From Solidarity to Sustainability
V1 N6 October 2005: Dimensions of Sustainability
V1 N7 November 2005: Analysis and Synthesis of Objective Evidence
V1 N8 December 2005: Solidarity, Subsidiarity, and Sustainability

From Patriarchy
to Solidarity,
Sustainability, and

Gender Balance

"Study after study has shown that there is no effective development strategy in which women do not play a central role. When women are fully involved, the benefits can be seen immediately: families are healthier and better fed; their income, savings and reinvestment go up. And what is true of families is also true of communities and, in the long run, of whole countries." Kofi Annan, UN Secretary General, 8 March 2003


Without significant improvement in gender balance (in both secular and religious institutions), trying to make further progress toward solidarity and sustainability is an exercise in futility. Some indicators of gender balance:

1. Survivability
2. Quality of survival
3. Skill acquisition
4. Workforce participation
5. Control over resources
6. Participation in governance
7. Security

Centre for Women's Development Studies
Seven markers for gender balance
New Delhi, India

Old Chinese Proverb

See No Evil
Hear No Evil
Speak No Evil

The origin of the "see no evil, hear not evil, speak no evil" saying is unknown, but the meaning is clear: it reflects the attitude of those who don't want to get involved in the healing of human suffering and the risky struggles for justice. This is the essential message of the teachings of the Buddha in the Suta Sutta, Anguttara Nikaya 4:183, and the Abhayarajakumara Sutta, Majjhima Nikaya 58:8. These teachings of the Buddha predate the abbreviation of the teaching to a proverb and the addition of the monkeys. A Chinese Buddhist monk took the proverb to Japan, probably in the 8th century CE. Eventually the proverb was carved over the door of Sacred Stable, Nikko, Japan. For more information, see The Phrase Finder and click on the monkey.


Steve Ben-Naimah, a Lutheran missionary in Ghana: "I do share views with you on lots of global issues and from the look of things, this will not get any better but we'll continue to speak out against the disparity and inequity in our society till the second advent of Christ, who shall restore creation to its perfect state (Isaiah 40:1-11). We need not relent in our efforts like Christ Himself and like the prophet Amos, being the voice of the voiceless (Amos:7:1ff)."

John Thackara, author of the Doors Of Perception and the recently published book In the Bubble: Designing in a Complex World. "This is just to say that I'm incredibly impressed by the clarity with which you cover such broad issues; thankful for the wealth of insight I garnered from my first read of your newsletter over the past two hours; and respectful of the precision and care with which you cite adjacent sources."

Remmy Nweke, senior reporter on Information and Communications Technology (ICT) with Daily Champion, a national daily in Lagos, Nigeria, wrote about the need for women to participate in ICT development. See his recent article on Women and ICT, ICTRealms Online, 25 August 2005.


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New Resources

Encyclopedia of Women & Islamic Cultures, Brill Leiden, 2005. Excerpt: "EWIC is envisioned as a broad based, interdisciplinary, cross-cultural, transhistorical encyclopedia, focusing specifically on women and Islamic cultures, but also including non-Muslim women in cultures where Islam has had a significant presence."

In the Bubble: Designing in a Complex World, John Thackara, MIT Press, 2005. Excerpt: "We're filling up the world with technology and devices, but we've lost sight of an important question: What is this stuff for? What value does it add to our lives?"

Ecosystems and human well-being: Health synthesis, WHO, 2005. Excerpt: "This report synthesizes the findings from the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment's (MA) global and sub-global assessments of how ecosystem changes do, or could, affect human health and well-being."


Women and Ordination in the Christian Churches. Call for papers: Women and Ordination in the Christian Churches: International Perspectives. Lincoln Theological Institute for the Study of Religion and Society, University of Manchester, UK, 12-14 July 2006. This international conference aims to bring together leading contributors from both academic and church contexts to explore Christian experiences of ordaining women in theological, sociological, historical and anthropological perspective. Please submit a short outline of your proposed paper (max. 200 words) by 10 March 2006 to Dr. Ian Jones. For further information, see the conference website.

Global Dialogue 2006 begins January 1st, 2006, on the Internet, and end August 31st. You can participate in one of the discussion roundtables, or you can organize your own discussion roundtable. For more information, see Discussion Roundtables on the Internet.

2006 International Symposium on Technology and Society. Theme: Disaster Preparedness and Recovery. June 8-10, 2006. Queens College, City University of New York New York City, NY. Sponsored by IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology. Abstracts are due December 1, 2005. For further information visit the IEEESSIT. Point of contact: Adam Henne, University of Georgia.

Society of Human Ecology. The 14th international conference of the Society of Human Ecology (SHE) will take place 18-21 October 2006 at the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine. SHE welcomes proposals not only for sessions but for multi-session symposia, as well as submissions of individual papers. Contact the Conference Committee, SHE XIV.

United Nations MDGs

Millennium Development Goals

The UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are the following:

1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

2. Achieve universal primary education

3. Promote gender equality and empower women

4. Reduce child mortality

5. Improve maternal health

6. Combat HIV/AIDS and other diseases

7. Ensure environmental sustainability

8. Develop a global partnership for development

Interested in more information and data? Click the map below:


Gender Balance in Religion

Women in Roles of Religious Authority

Rev. Florence Li Tim-Oi
Ordained to serve in the
Anglican priesthood,
Hong Kong, 1944

Gender Balance in Society

Women in Roles of Secular Authority

Ms. Michelle Bachelet
Elected president of Chile,
15 January 2006

"Caminante, no hay camino;
se hace camino al andar."

"Traveler, there is no road;
we make the road as we travel."

Antonio Machado, Spain, 1875-1939


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Copyright © 2006 by Luis T. Gutierrez


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