The Emancipation of Women
The View of the Church and the Auxiliary Organizations
By Olga Kupse, of the Geneva (Switzerland) Conference
It is but a few years ago since woman was considered an inferior being from the intellectual and physical standpoint. And under this simple pretext she was deprived of developing herself; man, her lord and master, found it was right and just that she exist only to serve him. In our day her condition is not much better. If she has the time to earn her bread she is terribly exploited, and has not the right to make laws for her defense, in spite of the fact that she is not forgotten when it comes to paying taxes. From the moral viewpoint her condition is even worse for there are two standards of measurement. Society demands everything from a woman or she is an outcast but excuses the man with an indulgent smile. The laws which govern a married woman are deplorable and in spite of our civilization, we are very much behind in this regard, for a country that wishes to progress must work for the emancipation of woman and for her education, for women’s influence dominates the nation.
The Church of Christ recognizes the liberty of woman in all fields and works for her emancipation. The Mormon woman is recognized as the equal of man. From the religious point of view, she feels the same obligation as he to work for the Church and in the Church. She is recognized equal to man from the moral viewpoint and it is not that she must abandon her principles of purity and honesty but because man must rise to her level. She enjoys civic equality which permits her to express herself and be a personality as real as her husband or brother. The Church has elevated woman in emancipating her and has brought out her true nature. The Mormon woman is educated to the same degree as the man in the sciences, in art, and in sports. She is therefore prepared for her career first in the home and after in society, for it is a great mistake to believe that the education of woman destroys the home. Thanks to her high principles of morality, the Mormon woman aspires above all else to create a home and to rear beautiful and healthy children but further she feels the need of sharing her talent with those less privileged and less gifted.
The Church, wishing to interest woman in her own spiritual and intellectual development, gives her the opportunity of opening her heart and doing good, by establishing the auxiliary organizations. The greatest of these organizations is the Relief Society. The Mormon women meet for study, at the same time, working for the well being of those less favored. They organize bazaars for charity and make visits to the sick and poor.
The Church has foreseen also, that all work must be followed not only by rest, but also by recreation, and has organized the Mutual Improvement Association, which is divided into two departments, one for the young men, and one for the young women. There the youth have the opportunity for amusement in a healthy and interesting manner, either in music, the drama, the dance or sports, at the same time studying the principles of the gospel. It is in the Mutual Improvement Association meetings that we come to know and love one another, that the true fraternal feeling is developed.
The development of the auxiliary organizations should call forth all our efforts for there one may sow the best grain. Let us not forget to organize a class for children so that we may give a little love, instruction and joy to the poor little ones who sometimes suffer for the lack of sympathetic care. This is the first duty of woman and very important for the future of the branch. Though Mormon women may be called to be missionaries in the world, their first duty is to work within the Church at home to train the hearts and minds of the little ones, to guide the youth and help the poor and sick.
We have need of all the sisters and all the brethren to pilot the work of the Lord to a good harbor. Let us all resolve to wake up and say, “Here I am – I am ready.”
Here is the thought which I wish to leave with you in conclusion – serving my neighbor is serving God – loving my neighbor is fulfilling the highest commandment. Let us work, my friends, and I ask that God will help us and bless us with His Spirit.