As stated in my last post, a group of us women’s historians are writing blog posts for a women’s history month edition of the History Carnival. My original plan was to blog about my specialty — reproductive rights, which I will do in a future post. Then this past Sunday, Theresa, the minister of education at the church I attend, Trinity Episcopal in Collinsville, CT, handed me a newsletter from the Sisters of Charity Action Network. Since today is Shrove Tuesday (aka Mardi Gras), I’ve decided to blog about this instead. Theresa is a former member of this Catholic religious order, and like many nuns and priests of her generation, left the the order when Vatican II decided against allowing priests and nuns to marry. However, Theresa has remained in the Catholic church despite being minister of education at an Episcopal church, to continue the work of reforming the Church from within. The Sisters of Charity Newsletter reminded me of the role that religious women played in the various social justice campaigns of the twentieth century — including access to higher education for women — work that often got them in trouble with the church hierarchy. This work continues a hundred years later. [see their prayer for International Women’s Day] Some examples:
Social justice for immigrants — including an Ash Wednesday pilgrimmage to Elizabeth Detention Center on Ellis Island, where 1,500 immigrants are being held awaiting trial and eventual deportation. This is part of the New Sanctuary Movement of New York, a coalition of religious congregations opposed to the Secure Communities Act.
Campaigns against human trafficking, including a panel at Fordham University on March 26, featuring Rachael Lloyd, founder of Girls Educational & Mentoring Services (GEMS), dedicated to helping young women who are sold into labor or sex slavery in New York, throughout the U.S. and worldwide. Lloyd’s memoir, Girls Like Us, will be released next month.
Activism on behalf of the environment — including celebration of Earth Hour on March 26.
Here’s a tribute to women’s work for social justice in honor of International Women’s Day, From Suffragette to Social Networker: