Working with an NGO that mainly deals with those most at risk for human trafficking, I’ve come to realise just how great the gender imbalance is when you look at the world. Globally, a greater proportion of women and girls are trafficked than men or boys (70% as opposed to 30% according to the latest UN report on Trafficking in Persons). This is a huge difference, considering there are slightly more men than women alive in the world today. Looking deeper, you realise how bad the situation is. Females are more likely to be aborted, killed as infants, refused treatment when sick, raped, beaten by their partners, and paid less for equal work, while being less likely to be educated or well fed, as well as being scarred by FGM in certain parts of the world! That’s a horrifying list to look at, and it made me wonder why this is happening? What is it about women that makes them deserving of this treatment? Why is there so little love for women in the world? I count myself lucky to have grown up in a family and nation where women have equal rights to men. I was never held back or marginalised because of my gender, and I can probably count on one hand the number of times I was told I couldn’t do something because I was female. Because of the encouraging environment, access to healthcare and education, and most importantly of all, love that I received at home, I was free to grow into the giftings God has given me and to achieve things considered impossible or at least pointless for a woman by much of the worlds population. Because of the education I received, I know that biologically, there is no reason why women cannot obtain the same level of understanding of the world around them as men. When given the same level of education, they are not deceived more easily than men. So why are they treated in this way by so much of the world? Why is a correct attitude seen as one in which it is considered pointless to educate a woman? Was it just luck that determined that I should be allowed freedoms and rights that are denied to so many? I don’t believe so. In Western countries, those founded on Christian principles anyway, the lot of women tends to be better, but there is still not true equality. In the church we are guilty of preventing women from reaching their true potential by holding back those that would minister or teach others. I don’t believe that this is Biblical, or that it reflects the true character or image of God. Men and women were created from the same source, both in the image of God. They were given the task of ruling the earth together. They were both present at the fall. Don’t be fooled, Adam was there too when Eve took the fruit, and did nothing to stop her. He then took it from her, having witnessed the previous exchange with the serpent. They were both equally deceived. And they have both been equally redeemed by Christ. The early church, based on the example Christ set in His interactions with women, was hugely counter-cultural, with women leading churches and teaching. Paul taught men to love their wives as themselves, something they had never had to do before, wives being considered property, rather than partners. He also frequently gave direction and correction about women teaching, prophesying and leading, something that blatantly suggests that women were fulfilling these roles. We were always intended to work together in fulfilling the Great Commission, but at the moment at least half of the work force is being held back! Think how much more we would be able to do if more women were helped to grow in their talents and giftings? If so much could be done within the church by a shift in the value we place on women, just how much could be done in other areas of life? In so many cultures, women are raped and abused because they are not considered to be worth as much as a man. Female babies are aborted or neglected because they are considered a liability and an expense. We need to change the way the world perceives women. We need to realise that, in God’s eyes, women and men are of equal value. That we have been charged to look after this earth together. Of course things are going to go wrong if you oppress half of the workforce! We need to work together to build a future. Globally, if we educated women to the same level as men, and gave them the same rights and access to services, we would have a much larger potential workforce. More minds able to ponder the difficult questions in life. More inventors coming up with solutions to alleviate poverty. More researchers discovering cures for diseases. Elevating the value of women to its rightful place could be an amazing solution to poverty, if we could just see past the blinkers of the past. In the end though, it doesn’t matter what we choose to do with our lives or with any new-found freedoms that we may gain. It matters more that we are able to grow in the giftings we are given, whatever they may be, so that we can each do the thing we do best, to the benefit of all. It doesn’t matter if we are led by a man or a woman, as long as they are living out their gifting. We should all have the opportunity to excel in something, and to be proud of what we do.