Solidarity can be defined in simple terms as unity within a group of individuals that have similar interests. However, from a religious perspective, solidarity embodies one of the seven social teachings in which the Catholic faith is built upon. Solidarity emphasizes the necessity of valuing the integrity and humanity of different groups of people throughout the world. To be in true solidarity with a group of people, one must unconditionally support them and their inherent beliefs. This unconditional support is especially necessary in times of suffering or great need. A critical element of solidarity is the importance of acceptance of others’ social natures and cultures. Solidarity rooted in coercement, pity, or shame is corrupt at the core, and not to be mistaken with the virtue.
Solidarity amongst women is absolutely crucial to the task of progressing gender equality throughout the world. Far too often do women draw nonexistent barriers between themselves. It is an unfortunate reality that one of the biggest challenges gender equality faces is the lack of unity within the movement. It is almost hard to believe that so many women engage in vitriolic and vindictive behaviors. In order to truly better their lives, women must band in solidarity with one another, and stop fighting amongst themselves. Instead on focusing on the things that separate them, women need to join in solidarity to fight for their rights, and oppose injustices.
Catholic teaching emphasizes the need for valuing the community in which God intended humanity to engage in. Remaining connected with our brothers and sisters throughout the world is a teaching rooted deep in the Bible. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians, 3:28). In times of catastrophe, solidarity plays an especially important role. In horrific events, such as the Holocaust, it is absolutely vital that people across the world stand in solidarity with those who are suffering. This concept of bearing the burden of our suffering brothers in Christ can easily be applied to women’s rights around the world.
Solidarity is especially essential in times of great tragedy. When there is some sort of catastrophic event, such as a genocide, it is vital for people all over the world to stand in solidarity. This concept can be applied to women’s rights when women (and men) are advocating for their rights for equal opportunities. If some women do not believe that men and women should be treated equally, or at least in gender equity, this could lead to several kinds of issues: a divide in the female population, an absence of unity, and an overall lack of solidarity.
The difficulties women face in less developed nations is no unspoken fact. It is common knowledge that young girls across Africa and the Middle East are deprived of education, and often times forced into marriages with men decades their seniors. It is absolute travesty that there is even a debate about whether or not we have a responsibility to aid and rescue these girls from their plight. These issues are not easily resolved, particularly in the segregated world that we currently live in. Due to major differences in the political beliefs of individuals worldwide, it is extremely challenging to have people come up with a unanimous decision on policies. Within gender inequality, some even argue that there is no gender gap or inequalities between men and women. The lack of awareness, education, and discussion of politics are somewhat responsible for this issue. However, women are also becoming separated from one another. Developing solidarity and using catholic social teachings can show that as a fair and just society, we need to consider the lives of all people.
A fundamental element of solidarity is the need for speaking out on the behalf of the silenced. Throughout human history, a vicious cycle has occurred in which one group assumes an authoritative role above its peers, oppressing and, at times, enslaving any group it viewed as “inferior”. Women, in particular, have suffered tremendous injustices and inequality. Women, historically and currently, have been silenced throughout the world. American women’s suffrage was won not even a hundred years ago. While the last century has proved to be massively progressive for the fight for gender equality, there is still much work to be done. Women throughout the world still face several trials and injustices.
Female theologians such as Dorothy Day, Rosemary Radford Ruether, and Elizabeth Johnson are all exceptional examples of feminists that dedicated their efforts to fighting on the behalf of women. These women perfectly embody the Catholic social teaching of solidarity. Dorothy Day, a socialist, activist, and pacifist, is one of the first female figures in theology to introduce her beliefs and refine the beliefs of others. She devoted herself to Catholicism and social justice issues, advocating for the rights of women. Because she was born in the late 19th century, a time where women’s rights were not valued, she shaped society’s views on female theologians and their significance. Rosemary Radford Ruether, a feminist theologian, supported the image of God to be neither maternal or paternal, but be presented as an “empowering matrix”. However, she does use a maternal metaphor, portraying God as fertile and someone we are all rooted in. Elizabeth Johnson, a feminist theologian and a theology professor at Fordham, maintains the idea that feminism should be unapologetic. She is a strong believer in women realizing their self-worth, and incorporating those beliefs into the Christian faith.
The roles of women in society can be demonstrated by important female figures within the bible. For instance, women are created by God to nurture and to nurse their children, to reproduce and give birth to new life, and to have their own fulfilling lives. One of the most prominent examples of women within the bible is Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. She conceives her baby immaculately, and through her faith and trust in God. Another noteworthy female biblical figure is Sarai, the wife of Abram. She wishes to have a son with her husband, but they are past the age of reproduction until God promises them a child by entrusting him. However, the common misconception is that creating and nurturing children is all women are necessary for. This is far from the truth, yet is still a universal stereotype perpetuated by several societies. Women may have had these responsibilities in the past, though times have changed as society has progressed. Women are now becoming a majority of the population in the world and are succeeding as they deserve to. Dominating fields such as nursing and the arts, women are an immense part of the reason why society is moving forward, as the roles of women are no longer restricted to simply being caregivers and reproducers.
Wording and language in the world we reside in plays a crucial role in determining the multiple purposes of being a woman. Many of earth’s societies are male-dominating, leaving very little room for women to be leaders as well. The bible has been translated and interpreted to use phrases that suggest patriarchy. For example, the Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, is the well-known phrase that is used throughout the world to begin and end any form of prayer or sacrament. The language within the bible should not be suggesting male-dominance because this further allows men to have more power over women. Another way that the bible demonstrates patriarchy is the majority of the gospels being given by men and not women. Our entire world is constantly idolizing male figures, but lacks in the identification and gratification of many female figures. Credit should be given where credit is due, especially in cases like these where numerous women have worked and fought for their voices to be heard.
The importance of language carries on to the word “feminism” and the lack of solidarity between self-proclaimed feminists and supporters of gender equality. The word “feminism” has received a ridiculous amount of criticism and hate over the years. This is mainly because many people misunderstand the correct definition of the word. People see the root word “femin” and immediately assume that feminism is only fighting for the rights of women, but it is advocating for both men and women; the belief in gender equality and/or equity. Many women shut down or completely disregard feminism because a lack of knowledge on the subject. However, instead of overlooking the expression, women must support feminism and each other. This is where a true form of solidarity is present because women would finally become united.
When it comes to learning, teaching, and encouraging solidarity amongst women, it is crucial to understand, assimilate, and assert oneself because solidarity requires action. The first few steps are somewhat simple, yet have been difficult to convey in our society. To be aware of, comprehend, and teach others the basic concepts of unity and togetherness has been a challenge for the society we live in due to centuries upon centuries of oppression. The remains of oppression and male-dominance are still visible and brought up even though the world is moving forward. Because solidarity is built on the foundation that people need to come together in order to have peace, love, and virtue, this is exactly what women need to do with one another, and with men as well. We cannot promote false solidarity. We must forgive and reconcile with one another and settle and differences. Supporting each other and loving each other is a main fundamental of the Christian foundation and faith. This is what solidarity looks like, and can take us places as a society if solidarity is achieved throughout the world.