These are times of great change, but we are not all living them in the same way. As many have said, we are all in the same storm, but not in the same boat. The pandemic and current global crisis have shown the cracks that already exist in society and further deepened them. The most marginalized and vulnerable sectors of society have been impacted more severely: migrants and refugees, the elderly, people working in the informal economy, people in the Global South. Women have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic in each of these sectors.
COVID-19 has further exacerbated the longstanding marginalization of women and pre-existing gender based inequalities. In rich and poor countries, despite significant advances, women continue to be poorer, they are paid less, have less access to education, they are victims of violence, and they are the first to lose their jobs in a pandemic.
On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat held in Rome in November 2019, Fr General Arturo Sosa SJ called us to review with courage those structures, culture and relationships that perpetuate gender inequality in the Society of Jesus, both internally and in its service to the community, as well as in the Church and in society.
At CJI we invited women who are engaged with Jesuit projects to write about the reality of women in their countries and how they are responding with courage and resilience to the current crisis. They make clear that a plan for a just recovery for all from the pandemic has to include gender justice at all levels of society and institutions. Women are not only victims of a system that marginalizes them, but they are also agents of change. They work with creativity to defend life and create a better future.
Speaking of changes, the CJI newsletter has a new name and new design, along with a new logo. Our hope is that these better reflect our mission today and the Universal Apostolic Preferences of the Society of Jesus.
BRIDGING BORDERS is what we are called to do at this time of great divisions – to work for equality in our structures and in all that we do, to heal our fragmented society, and to ensure that the recovery from the pandemic is based on justice for all.
We can take our inspiration from the women whose voices we hear in these pages – women who are “forged in resistance… but whose hearts remain tender and open.”