RECENT international meetings in China on women's issues have focused world attention on methods for improving the lot of women. Both the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women and the parallel Non-Governmental Organizations Forum have sought to lessen discrimination against women and the oppression of females of all ages.
Controversy exists regarding injustices toward women-even among women themselves. Yet the human rights of women are, fundamentally, not so much political as they are moral. And the acknowledgment of women's rights, like a swift-running current, cannot be thwarted, for it involves an honest search for the truth. Customs and laws must be elevated to recognize that men and women alike possess the inalienable, God-given rights of reason and conscience.
Over a century ago the Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote: ''Civil law establishes very unfair differences between the rights of the two sexes. Christian Science furnishes no precedent for such injustice, and civilization mitigates it in some measure. Still, it is a marvel why usage should accord woman less rights than does either Christian Science or civilization.'' This is from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, the Christian Science textbook (p. 63).
Christian Science establishes woman's rights on a spiritual foundation. Man and woman are seen to be children of God, made after His likeness. They coexist with their Father-Mother God. Importantly, the Supreme Being is not viewed in anthropomorphic terms, but rather as divine Love, Truth, and Life, which we all express.
It is materialism that claims to stand in the way of exercising our right of self-government. But by seeing with the heart-that is, using spiritual sense and not relying on the five physical senses to tell us the absolute truth of existence-we can discover who we actually are. The Apostle Paul, preaching to the Athenians, said, ''For in him [God] we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring'' (Acts 17:28).
As God's children, all of us exist to glorify Him. This is a fact and an unassailable right. Restrictions on the education of women, perpetuation of female illiteracy, and restrictions on the training available to women are all opposed to God's power. And because of this, such limitations cannot endure. God's power is supreme.
When I decided to further my education, I did so because it would help me to be of greater service to mankind; it was not a gender-based decision, but one based on common sense and prayer. Early on, I was derided by a male professor, who bluntly told me that women had no place in higher education, especially in the sciences that I was studying. Although the laws of my country recognize a woman's equal right to an education, human opinions are slower to change. It was apparent that the professor wa s not ready to accept that a woman could accomplish this work, and I did not respond to him. But I earnestly prayed to God, by quietly affirming that His power would bring the injustices of this situation to light and correct them. Because I had learned that my equality was based on spiritual fact, I knew I could rely on the law of God to guide me throughout my schooling. I understood my career was in His hands and could not be derailed by human opinions about my abilities as a woman.
Soon afterward, the professor was asked to leave. He found another position at a distant university. Even though I was only a graduate student and not a faculty member, the university department gave me his office and laboratory, in which I completed a Ph.D. My education has indeed proved useful in helping my fellowman.
In proportion as mankind follows the example set by Jesus Christ, in which we know God, understand our relation to Him, and obey His laws, women will be emancipated from injustice.