Last fall, I was invited to contribute a chapter to a book relating to women and sustainability. I was given some freedom regarding the direction of the chapter, and I elected to write on impact of Christian women on global sustainability. There was some pushback on this topic as most people have an idea that there should be a separation between faith and these topics. But I like to argue the opposite. We need to see faith not simply as proselytizing but as a lifestyle. We need to re-embrace or redefine how we see religion – not something to shy away from in fear, but a lifestyle of values and behaviors that generally contribute to the flourishing of the world.
This is true across most religions, but since Christianity is the largest social demographic in the world, the importance of the contribution of flourishing through Christians should not be overlooked. In fact, it should be celebrated and promoted, by both believers and non-believers.
In the chapter, there are a number of facts shared, including that 85% of the world’s eight billion people identify with a religion; of that number, 2.38 billion are Christian, 1.91 billion are Muslim, and the next largest religions are Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, and then others.
Also, women tend to be more religious than men, often by wide margins. For Christianity, 51.6% are women. This translates to a number of 1,228,080,000 Christian women in the world. This is not a small number!
Having established that, we now look at women and their influence/contribution to business/economics/workforce.
As it relates to business, nearly one in three entrepreneurs are women and women are more likely to be solopreneurs (1.47 women solopreneurs for every man). Women make up 43% of the global agricultural work force, with that number rising to 60% in parts of Asia and Africa. Women are more likely to offer innovative new products and services in lower and middle-income countries.
Women also tend to consider social and environmental sustainability more than men and prioritize sustainability over economic goals. This usually means increased flourishing of employees and the flourishing of the creation. (For references to these statistics, send me an email and I’ll be happy to send them to you!)
So what does this mean? We need to be encouraging Christian women in business. We need to help equip and empower them for the flourishing of creation, employees, individuals, communities, and families! Let’s not leave them out of the mix! Let’s not overlook the contribution of Christian women in the flourishing of this world through business. God is a working God and is the God of business, as can be seen throughout Scripture. The gifts of our faith reach beyond the building to the public square.
The church, when gathered, can and should equip the church, when scattered, to do business to the glory of God.
As Gerd Miller, the Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, writes,
Religion plays an integral part in all societies and is the most important source of values for many people. Any development policy that respects people as individuals must also respect their individual world views. For most people, this world view is fundamentally shaped by their religion.
Author Edward Brown, in his book, Our Father’s World, says,
“Whatever the source of the problem is, religion has to be part of the solution…My conviction about the role of the church in this [environmental] crisis comes from a belief that environmental problems are sin problems. We have a spiritual problem, and we need a spiritual solution. Solving spiritual problems is what the church is all about, and that’s what we can bring to the table in this crisis. (Brown, 2018, p. 18)