Women Break New Ground As Bishops And Judges
Possibilities for careers have just widened in places across the globe, and this progress has been made in spite of various traditional religious roadblocks.
Earlier this month, Malaysia announced its first female judges on its strict, Islamic, sharia court. The court is traditionally composed entirely of men, and the introduction of two female judges is hoped to lessen the country’s onerous regulations against women. The Times of India reports:
The appointment of the first two women judges to Malaysia’s Islamic courts was hailed Thursday as a move to address the gender imbalance in the country’s religious judiciary.
Premier Najib Razak announced the appointments, made by the king in May, as an example of the government’s commitment to transforming the Sharia judiciary.
“The appointments were made to enhance justice in cases involving families and women’s rights and to meet current needs,” Najib was quoted as saying by state news agency Bernama last week.
Islamic courts run in parallel with civil courts in this Malay Muslim-majority country but women say they face much discrimination in Islamic divorce proceedings, inheritance and child custody cases.
England, too, is ushering a new age of equality with a recent announcement that they are taking the first step towards allowing women to be bishops in the Church of England. Via Huffington Post:
The Church of England national assembly decided Monday that women should be allowed to become bishops, making only minor concessions to theological conservatives who have threatened to break away over the issue.
Dioceses will now consider the draft law, which would leave it up to individual bishops to allow alternative oversight for traditionalists who object to serving under women bishops. The dioceses must report back by 2012 and a final vote by the ruling body, the General Synod, will still be needed, but supporters say a milestone has been passed.
“The decision to consecrate women as bishops has been taken,” said church spokesman Lou Henderson. “Everybody recognized the importance of offering safeguards and assurances to those who find it very difficult (to accept women bishops), but in the end Synod as a whole was not prepared to go as far as the traditionalists would have liked.”
Unfortunately, the proposal still has a few hurdles to overcome, most notably a fight with traditionalist who still believe that Biblically only the man can be a mouthpiece to God. But in both cases, small, incremental steps have been made that provide hope that true gender equality may be found down the road.