The plight of women in every country and continent is almost pitiful when it comes to dignity, opportunity and rights. Everyone needs to do everything possible to improve situations of women. No one can deny the fact that a woman – most probably the mother – played a great role from the very beginning of one’s life.
In one of his monthly prayer intentions presented as a video Pope Francis choses the theme of protecting the women and providing them with dignity. He wishes “women may be honored and respected and that their essential contribution to society may be highly esteemed” in every country of the world. However, Pope asks “is that enough (only) to recognize these contributions of women?” What can be done to improve the miserable situations of women globally?
Women’s role starts in the family and permeates all areas of human activity. First of all women are concerned with the ‘well being’ of all and strives to achieve it. She selflessly aspires the good of her child and all those who are under her care. A mother longs to see her baby growing; each breath of hers unites with the child. She dedicates her life for the child who grows under her mantle in the initial years of his/her life. Women have a natural tendency to nurture others. It begins and ends in benevolence. “Mothers are the strongest antidote to the spread of self-centred individualism” (Amoris Laetitia 174) Generally, women aim the good of each one because their hearts are interlaced with maternal care for all.
An aspect that makes women unique is the feelings of affection for others. As a mother, daughter, sister, wife, grandmother, friend, and a colleague she adorns herself with affection. She has a maternal heart, which overflows with compassion and sacrificing love. However, this aspect is not as much valued by the society, as it should be. On the contrary, the capacity for affection is misunderstood as her weakness. If the society respects women and recognizes her worth, the predicament of women might improve. The society needs to learn to acknowledge women more than an object. Her warmth and care is to be considered as a generous gift and not as her obligation.
Yet, it is true as Pope Francis mentions in his video message, “We have done little for women who are in very difficult situations: despised, marginalized, and even reduced to slavery.”
Woman also shall be recognized for their great heart of compassion. There is no limit for her sensitivity towards others especially for the needy. She is an ocean of compassion, so broad and deep. Those who look at it from far enjoy the calmness, coolness and color. When you go closer you really come in touch with the depth of it. Still you can remain untouched by your egos, fears and doubts.
Maternity, the aspect of a women being mothers is the most significant of women’s roles. St. John Paul II’s “Mulieris Dignitatem” framed femininity as linked to motherhood, which is necessarily compassionate and nurturing, regardless of whether or not an individual woman is actually a mother. Pope Francis underlines the value of maternity even to the extent of saying that “motherhood is not a solely biological reality, but is expressed in diverse ways” (Amoris Laetitia 178).
The best example we see in the mother of Jesus, Blessed Virgin Mary. She is a woman and incomparable mother, a mother of the earth and heaven. Overflowing compassion and care for us, the children of God are immeasurable like an ocean. In fact, the apex of maternity is shown to the human race through Jesus her son and that loving heart fosters each child of God.
In this Holy Year of Mercy, everyone, every one shall learn to consider a woman with all respect and compassion. Pope Francis also gave emphasis to the circumstances of women, saying, “We must condemn sexual violence against women and remove the barriers that prevent their full integration into social, political and economic life.”
We come across numerous incidents of women being raped, harassed, abused and thrashed. There are some occasions when women themselves join in humiliating activities of human trafficking and sex business. In our own religious circles sometimes we are apathetic to others and do not support each other as it ought to be. Respect for women shall be cultivated only when women respect other women with dignity.
The culture of feminine respect shall start from the family where all roots develop to care for the mother earth together with the mother who brought you to this world as per the design of God. May this year of Mercy purify our hearts, cleanse our eyes, and wash our brains and attitudes in order to look at the ‘Icon of Compassion’ with all reverence and love.