Listening to the Voices of Women
From 1968 to 1988, Rose Catchings served as the first executive for international ministries with women and children for the General Board of Global Ministries, a position created to oversee United Methodist Women’s international work after The United Methodist Church was formed in 1968.
In the World Division’s Oral History Project, Catchings talked about one of her first mission trips with a mostly male church delegation to a refugee camp near Kenya.
“Most refugees in the world are women and children, so I decided to leave the group and walk among the women for awhile. They said, ‘If groups like yours would talk with women, we’d tell you our priorities; but groups like yours always speak to men, and they don’t know our priorities.’ That shook me up. … A great deal of listening goes into this work, and it must be so.
“No woman anywhere I went talked about her life without talking about children. … Women in … the forests, the villages, had a common need to develop their own potential so their societies could become better. … They say, ‘I want better opportunities for my children. I need to know something more than what I now know.’
“[After that] I tried to take four or five women with me on each trip so that women in this country [the United States], could hear what women in other countries were saying … so that women in this country could raise questions with women in the other countries — churchwomen to churchwomen.”