West Yorkshire’s Church Leaders carried a bundle of firewood in Rastrick, Huddersfield as they walked in the shoes of Ethiopian women living in poverty ahead of this year’s Christian Aid Week which starts on Sunday www.caweek.org
The West Yorkshire Ecumenical Council joined Christian Aid in asking the British public to support women living in poverty around the world who are discriminated against from birth as part of Britain’s longest running house to house fundraising week.
Four times a week, in a remote corner of Ethiopia, Loko Jarso makes a back-breaking eight-hour trip to gather wood. With only thin flip-flops to protect her feet from thorns and rocks it’s a task she dreads, but she steels herself to do it because if she doesn’t her children will starve. To earn enough money to feed her children one small meal a day, she needs wood to sell.
Women and girls from Loko’s community are expected to fetch and carry wood and water to provide for their family. Denied a good education and the respect of their community, women are trapped in a life of poverty.
To highlight this, Leeds vicar, Jude Smith is running the Leeds Half Marathon - the same distance these woman walk every day just for water. Read her story in Leeds Area section on the website and sponsor her at https://wwwjustgiving.com/Jude-Smith1/
The Revd Roger Walton, West Yorkshire Methodist District Chair, who helped Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt Rev Tony Robinson carry a bundle of firewood, said “Our common humanity means that no one should carry burdens on their own”.
Gloria Hanley, of the Wesleyan Holiness Church, said “It is essential that we respond to our sisters and brothers across the world. He in the UK we are blessed with so much, whilst women like Loko have little or no resources”.
Bishop Tony Robinson, said "This Christian Aid Week support women like Loko who struggle to survive in very difficult circumstances”.
Bishop Tony Parry, of the New Testament Church of God, said “We are all part of one worldwide family. The Christian imperative to love your neighbour is still vibrant and necessary today. During this week of Christian unity and witness thousands of volunteers from West Yorkshire’s churches will ask people to respond with money and with hope to bring lasting change for our sisters and brothers in Ethiopia and across the world.”
Discrimination against women is one of the greatest injustices of our time and the statistics speak for themselves. Globally, less than 20 per cent of landholders are women, and women do twice as much unpaid work as men. In many countries girls are treated like second-class citizens while boys are provided with opportunities for an education, work, food and even decision making at the expense of their sisters.
Almost as soon as girls are strong enough to walk many can spend hours fetching water and doing household chores. Often forced into early marriages, they can also face the dangers of giving birth before their young bodies are ready. Deprived of an education, later in life women have to rely on men for their financial security, with any hope of following their own dreams dashed, leaving them vulnerable to deprivation and violence.
Christian Aid believes this has to change – for the sake of everyone; for the sake of women, men, girls, boys, communities and societies warped by such an extreme imbalance of power.
In Ethiopia Christian Aid partner HUNDEE works with both women and men in poor rural communities to challenge violence against women and harmful traditional practices, such as child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM), to bring about lasting change and ensure women can live in dignity and are treated with respect.
HUNDEE encourages men to get more involved with household tasks, including looking after their children, and consult their wives about the decisions that affect them.
They also provide the poorest women in pastoralist communities with livestock, raising their status within society, because when they have a cow they have a voice in community decision making, as well as a means to earn a living.
Loretta Minghella, Chief Executive of Christian Aid said: “We cannot end world poverty without addressing the fundamental issue of discrimination against women and girls. The unequal distribution of power and opportunities between the sexes is at the heart of poverty, and we are working with both men and women in communities around the world to bring about change. We are working with partners like HUNDEE to break down the barriers and root out the injustices that hold women back, and give them a chance to stand on their own two feet.”
You can help to change the lives of women in places like Ethiopia this Christian Aid Week by donating online at www.caweek.org calling 08080 006 006, or texting ‘WEEK’ to 78866 to give £5.
Pictured above is the Revd Kenneth Evans, from the Moravian Church and the Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt Rev Tony Robinson. and at the back
the Revd Kevin Watson, Moderator of the Yorkshire Synod of the United Reformed Church & Revd Roger Walton, West Yorkshire Methodist District Chair.
Church leaders (Front left to right) Bishop Tony Parry (New Testament Church of God), Eva Pinthus (Quakers), Revd Kenneth Evans (Moravian Church), Rt Revd Tony Robinson (Bishop of Wakefield)
(Back left to right) Gloria Hanley (Wesleyan Holiness Church), Mgr Michael McQuinn (Vicar General of Catholic Diocese of Leeds), Revd Kevin Watson (Moderator of Yorkshire URC Synod), Revd Roger Walton (West Yorkshire Methodist District Chair).