April 19, 2010

The Political Ministry of Women: An Australian Perspective

In the International Mercy Research Conference, participants used a theological reflection process that articulated the story in which we find ourselves, looked at the social and historical context of our story, dialogued with our Mercy and theological tradition, and then articulated a vision of theology and praxis. The article featured for this week is the final article in the phase of the process which looks at the social and historical context of our story.

Sophie McGrath rsm considers the leadership of women in the political sphere as vital to the common good in her article ‘The Political Ministry of Women: An Australian Perspective.’ In writing her article, she was responding to Elizabeth Davis rsm’s earlier article which includes the proportion of seats held by women in governmental parliaments. Australia, the first country to allow women to be voted for a government position, has the highest percentage of women in parliament at the national level. Sophie quotes some of the early pioneers who saw how interwoven interests of home and nation are and were unapologetic for women on the political horizon.

Despite Australian women’s early entrance in the political arena relative to the entrance of women in that arena in other countries, there have been reasons to lament the political power achieved in the late 20th to early 21st centuries. Sophie analyzes some of the challenges, lists ways in which women’s political service can be fostered, and explores some of the resources the Sisters of Mercy in Australia already provide in service of the promotion of women in political decision-making positions. She concludes by providing a vision offered by Pope Pius XII of the difference women’s involvement makes:

If more attention were paid to the anxieties of feminine sentiment, the work of consolidating peace would move ahead more rapidly. Those nations which are well-supplied with the goods of this world would be more hospitable and more generous toward those who are in want. Those in charge of public property would be more cautious in their dealings. With women in charge certainly the organizations set up to take care of community needs in the fields of housing, education, hospitals and employment would get more done and be more foresighted.

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