Exploring Intersections: Catholic Sisters on Racism, Migration and Climate

A Reflection on Gender Equity by Sr. Rosemary O’Brien, SSJ

This collaborative project of LCWR Region 10 involves a year-long monthly discussion.
Each month focuses on a social issue and explores how it intersects with Racism, Migration, and Climate.

Gender Equity was the focus of the first discussion on March 10, 2021. A facilitator and three panelists, one of whom was Sr. Joan Mitchell, CSJ, provided an engaging framework for exploring the issue of Gender Equity. One of the questions posed by the facilitator had to do with experiences of personal inequity. How does the injustice of gender inequity shape me? How do I respond?

This took me back to my early experience of gender inequity as a 7th grader in a parochial school. At the time, the school patrols were junior high boys. I naively approached the assistant pastor who was the liaison with the school and asked if girls could join the patrol. The answer was no. No reason given. There were other challenges through high school to have more opportunities for girls in school activities. While these experiences may seem insignificant now, I learned early on that it was important to recognize inequity and to speak up for basic human dignity and rights.

Another question raised by the facilitator had to do with the role of women in the Church. Through my experience as a pastoral minister for 26 years in three parish settings, I worked closely with the pastor and staff in all aspects of parish life.
Yet, there was always the ceiling or the closed door for women in certain areas.
I will never understand why the Church allows educated women in Scripture and Theology to teach men, but women cannot proclaim the Gospel at Liturgy nor break open the Word.

Today, women around the globe, especially those most affected by climate, migration, and racism, need our voices and our actions to cry out for gender equity. Both women and men benefit from eliminating stereotypes of gender inequity that keep people from the fullness of life.

At the end of the panel discussion, the three participants offered action steps:

1. Raise your voice against gender stereotypes in entertainment and media.
2. Learn about the goals and journeys of women around you and find ways to support them.
3. Reclaim the strength, power, and leadership roles of women of the Bible and Church leadership. I would highly recommend the Exploring Intersections monthly discussions presented on the second Wednesday of each month* as important next steps. As one elder stated: “All of us have a lot to learn.”

For more information, visit exploringintersections.org

*Click here to access the previously presented conversation.