Hat tip to Deacon Tracy Longacre, missionary in Cameroon, for pointing me to this essay, Linking Human Rights and Development, by Susan Aaronson. This brief and cogent editorial argues that "poverty, whether in the industrialized world or in the developing world, is not simply the absence of money, but is a lack of access to resources and opportunities. Thus, poverty is a human rights as well as a development problem. " Lack of access is a burden carried especially by women and children around the globe. This also is true for lesbian and gay people in places like Iran and Nigeria.
It is imperative, therefore, that efforts by governments and NGOs, including churches, to alleviate global human suffering bear in mind that success requires addressing the cultural as well as economic barriers to human flourishing. In this, the Anglican Communion has a vital role to play, especially on behalf of women and increasingly (though controversially) on behalf of gay and lesbian people. This is a difficult challenge, fraught with the danger of new (old) forms of imperialism. Yet, the challenge must be creatively and patiently addressed, for the end of global poverty and the emancipation of women are intrinsically related.
This is why the U.N. Millenium Development goals include achieving universal primary education for children (including girls), promoting gender equality and empowering women, reducing child mortality, and improving maternal health. Women are always the thin edge of the wedge of human liberation. As it goes with women, so it goes for LGBT people in particular. The election of the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori as Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church provides a powerful symbol of hope and an opportunity to link the cultural and economic aspects of the churches' responsibility to minister to "the least of these. "