Welcome to a journey…
Carole Fontaine, Ph.D.,WUNRN Research Associate
Distinguished Taylor Professor of
Biblical Theology and History, Emerita
Come and share the world of women’s experiences with the discovery of their rights and abilities, and the transmission of that legacy to the girls who will follow them into a thriving and full adulthood. As WUNRN Research Associate, I will be your tour guide for some of these adventures…but how did I get to the place as a Human Rights advocate for women and girls where I am able to offer these materials to you? Who am I and what will I be doing?
In 2003, after a strong career of professoring on ancient religion–mostly biblical–and women’s religious experience–I was drawn through my research on the Queen of Sheba to speak to women’s groups about religious leadership, and women’s difficulties in that area. As the Taylor Professor of Biblical Theology and History at the now closed Andover Newton Theological School in Newton, MA, I had written books, appeared in documentaries, served on editorial boards, chaired committees, and won awards.
Did any of that matter to regular women and girls, I wondered? How could I make it matter, or even decide if it should matter, in scholarly isolation? I began to write more general articles on women and religion, patriarchy and violence, and did many encyclopedia entries to introduce to newcomers to the topic. So far, so good. But, beyond that, what was needed was WOMEN and GIRLS from everywhere and in all sorts of circumstances joining my solitary scholar’s conversation with myself. I began to speak to Muslim women’s groups about the astonishing ancient Queen; that led me to Christian and Jewish groups who also knew the Queen from their Scriptures, too. All well and good…but we live in a world where very few of us are queens, or ever likely to be.
Through the network of women speakers on religion, I was introduced to WUNRN, in Womens UN Report Network, founded in 2003. WUNRN, based on a UN Study, addresses the human rights, oppression and empowerment of women and girls all over the world. I happily began to work with its indefatigable facilitator, Lois M. Herman. hosting a workshop in Boston in 2005, and adding articles and courses on women and religion to the WUNRN archive website.
The global lens, the issues and rights, of women and girls is complex, but it is clear that education and empowerment are the primary answers for the question of how to improve the status and welfare of women and girls worldwide. Too much violence, neglect, and the weight of negative assessments made by male societies add to the regular burdens of childcare, housework, work outside the home, and the restrictions placed upon women’s dreams of something different perhaps, something better.
So, at Lois’ suggestion, once I retired and no longer had normal duties of teaching mainstream topics (e.g., patriarchal religion, with trenchant feminist analysis and comments smuggled in here and there), I became her assistant, as the WUNRN Research Associate , and we began this part of the website.
Here we hope to bring together resources on our blog for the areas noted below: Posts can be accessed by the menu on the sidebar, or the tags at the bottom of each site page.
- My Health and Me: questions directly affecting girls’ health and well being, like sexuality, body image, diet, self-care, self-defense, etc.
- Growing Up Sane and Female
- Leadership by girls
- Climate and Me: resources for addressing climate change locally
- Program links of interest to girls
WOMEN/LEADERSHIP: People who work with and for girls’ education and rights advocacy at various levels of society, including:
- Teachers, interns, volunteers
- Agencies, NGOs, Faith Communities, School Administraton
- Substance Abuse Counselors, Guidance Councelors, etc.
Anyone who is interested in thinking deeply about how women and girls can learn to see themselves more richly and authentically empowered in a world where being recognized as a valuable being can often be a struggle for females, whatever their age. Here, we will explore topics in the spirituality practices of women and girls, then and now, here and there.
We will take seriously the plight of the Earth in building a diverse, intersectional spirituality that responds to the crisis of climate change.
Look for pages, research, UN activities, links, opportunities, and projects on these topics with special reference to girls and their needs coming soon as the site developed. Please feel free to submit your ideas and links for follow-up and discussion.
Together with Lois Herman, the general director of WUNRN, we hope to make it easier to focus on the powerful force that girls represent in our world, and helping them and you to unleash their full potential. More soon!
Carole Fontaine, WUNRN Research Associate