I ran across this quote today:
For most of history, Anonymous was a woman.
Whether this is quote is correctly attributed or not (or even whether it is true), it did set me to reflecting on how at least in modern history – and probably in a great deal of history – much of Christian mission’s activities were accomplished by women, even if their history has not been written.
Today, if we exclude the percentage of missionaries who are couples (equal share, 50/50, male/female), and look at the singles, single women in mission (and in the church generally) are known to largely (and in some agencies, vastly) outnumber single men.
This means that the majority of Protestant missionaries are women.
Further, if we contemplate Roman Catholic missionaries, we often think of well known missionary orders like Franciscans, Dominicans, Jesuits, etc. – and so we think of the stereotypical monk under vows of celibacy. But the reality is, nuns outnumber monks by about 7-to-1: in 2017, worldwide, there were 753,400 women and 191,800 men in ‘the consecrated life.’
I think any mission needs to contemplate what it means to mostly consist of women. Do we write their histories and their stories? Do we consider their needs and their safety? Do we give them authority and let them lead?