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Leonidas, Maria Karisa Joy C.

L-120485 Women and Social Justice in Old Testament

Seminar 1 1-O

The concept of social justice as understood in the Old Testament and as how it is applied in the present society did not seem to change. In both contexts, social justice means the equal distribution of resources. Pondering upon Isaiah 10:1-2, woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless, it reveals that even in the period contemplated in the Old Testament, injustice is present. The verse above implies a social order similar to the social order in the present, to wit: the dominance of the rich over the poor. The mention of to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice indicates that even then, the poor are not the ones who make the law. They are as much disadvantaged in terms of political power as they are today (something very contrary to the concept of social justice in the context of democracy. The irony!). It is consistent with the concept that even during that period, the government does not necessarily mean the instrument of serving justice. The law should be an mechanism to regulate the conduct of the population as to promote a common good. However, as worded in the verse, woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees the power to create laws does not always serve to uphold justice but to do the contrary. This is not far from todays reality. However, in the verse cited above, the concept of social justice (or injustice) is general among the poor. It does not distinguish between who among the poor are much affected by the injustice. While it is true that by mere virtue of being in the lowest rank in the social pyramid is already injustice, it is still important to recognize that the issue has a gender dimension. Among the underprivileged, women are the most disadvantaged. This is now brought to the attention of the world as the concept of feminization of poverty. Such concept is recognized as a global concern. Quoting the United Nations (2012), we uphold the principles of social justice when we promote gender equality or the rights of indigenous peoples and migrants. Gender dimension is much highlighted in the present context because women are increasingly economic actors and heads of households as well as mothers, their poverty slows global economic growth (Buvinic, 1998). With the increasing attention to the importance of the role of women in the society, the concept of social justice deserves to be discussed with a gender dimension. Social justice remains to be the idea of equal distribution of resources. The basic representation of injustice is poverty. The definition of poverty traditionally was limited to the level of monetary income and expenditure (Tennakoon, n.d.). However, it extended to include not necessarily just income but deprivation. Deprivation as defined by Pachauri, et al. (2004) is associated with not having access to ones choice of material goods, freedom, capabilities and opportunities. In the society, women are the most deprived of access because they are subordinated and they are given less priority in acquiring access to basic services. Mothers and other women members of the family are assigned the domestic roles. They are not expected to participate in the public sphere. However, what happens in the public sphere affect them domestically. Their being subordinated in the public sphere is reflected in their subordination in the domestic level. Womens non-participation reinforces their subordination, which perpetrates injustice among them.