In preparation for the 53rd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women, as people of faith it is important to take some time and space to ourselves and reflect. This year’s theme — “The equal sharing of responsibilities between women and men, including caregiving in the context of HIV/AIDS” — encourages us to look to our own daily lives for the most basic examples of how labor is divided between men and women. Who decides how such decisions are made? How much flexibility is present in the sharing of responsibilities? Who carries a heavier burden, and what kinds of tasks are allotted to which people?
As members of a religious community, the second part of this theme must give us pause. It is the faith-based community who, in the past, helped in perpetuating a negative stigma of people living with HIV and AIDS. Our role in this negative stereotyping requires repentence, characterized by a prounounced humility and tremendous courage in naming our wrongdoing. It is our role, before acting out in advocacy, to ask forgiveness of those whom we have wronged.
We can follow the example set by ELCA Bishop Mark Hanson, who spoke this past summer at the XVII International AIDS Conference in Mexico City. Watch him speak and act in this video to help envision how we ourselves might repent as religious leaders.