Re-Thinking Missions: A Laymen's Inquiry after One Hundred Years

By William Ernest Hocking; Laymen's Foreign Missions Inquiry. Commission of Appraisal | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XII
WOMEN'S INTERESTS AND ACTIVITIES

The changing status of women in the Orient. The East today represents a radically different environment for women, from that which the pioneer women missionaries, or those of even a later period, found when they came to the Orient. An Indian Mohammedan woman a delegate to the Round Table Conference in London in 1930 and 1931; Chinese women delegates in the National People's Assembly in Nanking in May, 1931; a team of Japanese women athletes competing in the Olympic Games in Los Angeles in August, 1932, are all high lights of the change which is sweeping over the eastern world, vitally affecting the position of women.

In India, where vibrant nationalism has been a powerful ally, the emergence of women has become perhaps the most significant fact of the present day. Political equality, demands for equal educational opportunity, social legislation against child marriage, protests against purdah (literally a curtain symbolizing the veiling and seclusion of women), the active participation of women leaders in the national struggle, and the mobilization of a self-conscious, intensely alive group of women leaders in national movements like the All-India Woman's Conference, are indications of the dawning of a new day for Indian womanhood.

In Burma there is no such distinctive transformation. Free from the deep shadows of child marriage and purdah, and on an already accepted basis of social and economic equality with men, the life of Burmese women presents naturally no black and white contrasts of change such as one finds in India, but only a slow, steady growth of enlightenment through education. Burmese women leaders are becoming increasingly con

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