Our morning opened with a prayer reflection and presentation by the contingent from Papua New Guinea. The women came together in their traditional dress, sang, prayed and honored the bilum which is a handmade string bag used for carrying firewood, vegetables and even babies in their country.
Learning about their culture and their people is just one of many memories that will stay with all of us from this symposium gathering.
Following the prayer, two of the women in our group presented me with my own bilum as a gift, which I will forever cherish… carrying this experience and the strength of their stories home with me!
I am already much richer because I know them. In sharing this experience it is my hope you carry a new idea to others to spread the charism of De La Salle.
Today’s session was moderated by Trish Carroll (the symposium organizer and facilitator). We focused on the place and identity of women today in the world and in the Lasallian mission. We discussed how we can be a collective voice for Lasallian women and what that might look like for our future.
Drawing from the main topics that surfaced from yesterdays work, the buzz in the room was palpable as we raised our collective voice to outline ideas for change. This voice must be heard and will help the Lasallian mission to grow and flourish in years to come.
Tracy Adams and Amanda Proulx gave the keynote address and shared sobering statistics about the women of the world. Consider this:
- Women do 66% of the world’s work, yet earn 10% of its income (this does not include unpaid work such as child care, elder care and housework).
- 35% of the world’s women have experienced physical/sexual abuse.
- Two thirds of the world’s illiterate are women.
- Two thirds of the world’s most poor are women.
- A woman dies every 90 seconds through childbirth or pregnancy complications.
- Each year, 15 million under-aged girls are forcibly married.
- Each year, thousands of girls are murdered in ‘honor killings’.
- Internationally, 24% of business leaders are women.
- There are 195 recognized countries and currently there are only 10 women serving as Heads of State.
Together, we reacted to these points and came face to face with the realities that affect us as women in the world. Our Lasallian mission draws us to focus on education and care for the vulnerable. Our energy is renewed knowing that our work makes a significant difference in the lives of children all over the world. For example:
- A child born to a mother who can read is 50% more likely to survive past the age of five, to be immunized, and to attend school.
- Wages, agricultural income, and productivity – all critical for reducing poverty, are higher where women who are involved in agriculture receive a better education.
- Each additional year of schooling beyond primary offers greater payoffs for improved opportunities, options and outcomes.
These are just a few of the ways education impacts the lives of our children. Education is power – it is vital, it is a part of who we are as Lasallians. We see this as MISSION CRITICAL.
More to come…