Catholic women urge pope to tear down Church’s ‘walls of misogyny’

This handout photo taken on March 2, 2018 and released by the Vatican press office, the Osservatore Romano, shows Pope Francis (L) sits during his visit to the Casa di Leda (Leda's House), the first home in Italy for women inmates and their children. (AFP / OSSERVATORE ROMANO)
Updated 08 March 2018
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Catholic women urge pope to tear down Church’s ‘walls of misogyny’

ROME: Roman Catholic women led by former Irish president Mary McAleese demanded a greater decision-making role for women in the Church on Thursday, urging Pope Francis to tear down its “walls of misogyny.”
McAleese was the key speaker at a symposium of Catholic women called “Why Women Matter,” attended by hundreds of people and followed by many others around the world via web-streaming.
The Women’s Day event was held at the headquarters of the Jesuit religious order after the Vatican withdrew permission for it to be held inside its walls when organizers added controversial speakers without its permission.
McAleese, who supports gay marriage and the ordination of women as priests, joked about the change of venue to a location just a block away from the Vatican walls, saying: “I hope all their hearing aids are turned on today.”
She said the Church’s ban on a female priesthood had “locked women out of any significant role in the Church’s leadership, doctrinal development and authority structure.”
The Church teaches that women cannot be ordained priests because Jesus chose only men as his apostles. Those calling for women priests say he was only following the norms of his time.
“We are here to shout, to bring down our Church’s walls of misogyny,” she said, adding that the Church’s position on keeping women in a subordinate role to men had “kept Christ out and bigotry in.”
“How long can the hierarchy sustain the credibility of a God who wants things this way, who wants a Church where women are invisible and voiceless in Church leadership?” she said in her address. McAleese was Irish president between 1997 and 2011.
Many women, she said, “experience the Church as a male bastion of patronizing platitudes, to which Pope Francis has added his quota.”
The pope has promised to put more women in senior positions in the Vatican but critics say he is moving too slowly.
Other women speakers included Zuzanna Radzik, a Catholic theologian from Poland, who described the struggle to make priests and bishops in her homeland take her seriously as an intellectual on a par with men.
Many in the audience were nuns, who cheered on the speakers who demanded more rights for women in the Church.
Last week, a Vatican magazine denounced widespread exploitation of nuns for cheap or free labor in the Roman Catholic Church, saying the male hierarchy should stop treating them like lowly servants.
The article in the monthly “Women, Church, World,” remarkable for an official Vatican publication, described the drudgery of nuns who cook, clean and wait on tables for cardinals, bishops and priests.


Rohingya children are deprived of basic education, recent reports reveal

Updated 39 min 56 sec ago
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Rohingya children are deprived of basic education, recent reports reveal

  • The education facilities provided by UN and NGO-run schools are still inadequate and offer only “informal education”
  • At present, NGOs have prepared a curriculum by their own experts and taken approval from the UN children's fund UNICEF

DHAKA: About half of the Rohingya children in the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, are growing up without any access to a minimum education facility, according to the latest report of Inter Sector Coordination Group (ISCG), which was issued last week. It says 47 percent of Rohingya children under the age group of 3-14 don’t go to any learning center, while 98 percent of youth aged 14-24 are out of the education facility.
The education facilities provided by UN and NGO-run schools are still inadequate and offer only “informal education,” said Areez Rahman, spokesperson of BRAC (the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee), the world’s largest non-governmental organization. The UN and NGO-run learning centers offer a little elementary education that provides only basic knowledge on Burmese language, English and mathematics. Rahman said there is no “unified curriculum” for all the learning centers in the refugee camp run by a different NGO.
At present, NGOs have prepared a curriculum by their own experts and taken approval from the UN children's fund UNICEF.
BRAC alone is running 365 learning centers in the Rohingya camps which cover about 30,000 students from the age of four to 14. “In our schools we are focusing on early-grade learning, basic literacy, numeracy, life-saving information, psycho-social support and life skills for the children in the camps,” Rahman told Arab News.
According to UNICEF, about 1,000 learning centers are providing education to the Rohingya children.
Alastair Lawson Tancred, UNICEF spokesperson in Cox’s Bazar, says there is no curriculum at present, “although UNICEF is working with the government to implement what is known as a Learning Competency Framework (LCF). Children aged between six and 14 receive an informal education at the learning centers, but children older than that currently only have access to adolescent clubs.
“However, efforts are now being made to address this so that learning centers can also be used by adolescent children,” Tancred added.
The urge of providing a better education to the Rohingya children is increasing every day. “We have already formed an LCF to upgrade the curriculum and the groundwork in this regard is completed. We are expecting to launch this curriculum from February next year after getting approval from the government authority,” said Mortuza Ahmed, sector information manager at ISCG. He said this new curriculum will be equivalent to fourth-grade primary education.
“Initially the Bangladesh government focused on the food, accommodation and health priorities of the refugees. Since their status in Bangladesh is yet to be settled and as Myanmar nationals they are not allowed to be taught in Bangle, our government is now working on a sustainable curriculum for these Rohingya children,” said Mohammad Shafiul Alam, primary education officer in Cox’s Bazar. "Our authority is closely working with UNICEF and UNHCR in this regard," he said.
The World Bank has approved a grant of $25 million to enhance the education facilities for the Rohingya children in Cox’s Bazar. In a statement on Saturday it said the additional financing on grant terms expands an existing project to help about 350,000 Rohingya children and adolescents to get a basic education at learning centers.
Qimiao Fan, World Bank country director for Bangladesh, said that without learning life skills and basic education, these Rohingya children can become a lost generation.
“In addition to providing access to learning opportunities, the grant will support psycho-social activities to help Rohingya children recover from shocks and to prevent exploitation. The grant will especially focus on girls, who are often victims of gender-based violence,” Fan says.
According to the WB statement, the financing, part of up to $480 million announced by the World Bank in June, will help establish 1,000 new learning centers and support about 500 existing ones in the camp areas. In addition, about 2,000 teachers and instructors will be recruited and trained at about 100 teacher training facilities, the World Bank said.