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Mormon feminists are celebrating a few more small steps toward gender equality in their Utah-based faith.
February's edition of the Friend, the LDS Church's official magazine for children, features an article titled "Savannah the Engineer" about a young girl who enters and whose team wins a battery-powered-car-designing contest. The issue also highlights lots of ethnically diverse faces and stories.
"I'm absolutely delighted to see the Friend encouraging more girls to enter this rewarding and in-demand career," writes Cynthia L. at the LDS blog, By Common Consent. "A flood of Mormon girls and women entering the field of engineering would go a long way towards closing Utah's gender pay gap, one of the largest [in] the United States."
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also recently unveiled a new song for children, "I'll Stand Tall," which names and honors not just men, but a female figure from the Bible.
The piece's first verse sings about a young shepherd David, who slew the giant Goliath. But the second stanza centers on Esther and how she saved her Hebrew people.
Faithful feminists long have suggested adding women leaders such as Deborah, Anna and Lydia to the ever-popular Mormon marching tune, "Follow the Prophet," which describes only men like Adam, Noah and Moses. It hasn't happened yet, however.
Meanwhile, independent Mormon feminists are adding ways to bring gender equity into programs and discussions in the male-led faith.
Every week, Mormon Women Project posts online a short essay aimed at that week's assigned scripture lesson that all members will explore during Sunday school.
The articles, produced by the project's Cooperative Ministry, are penned by women and focus on a female perspective on the reading.
The authors are "committed to reimagining and improving the ways in which faithful women and men can work together locally," the authors write, "to bring about more egalitarian administration and joyful experiences in Mormonism, within the framework of current LDS doctrine."
Exponent II, a longtime Mormon women's publication, has provided study helps offering a female perspective on LDS Relief Society lessons (for adult women) built around the teachings of church presidents all of whom have been men.
A middle-of-the-road feminist group, mormonfeminist.org, has begun featuring discussions of gender issues for the faith's Monday night gatherings, known as Family Home Evening.
"I am a mother of five young children and you can often find FHE lessons," writes Brittni Scott, the group's administrator in Wheeling, W.Va., "but I wanted lessons that focused on equality and other various women/feminist topics."
The one for next week asks participants to identify the presidents of the female Relief Society and study their biographies.
Scott hopes such efforts will help Latter-day Saints male and female see what Mormon feminism "is all about," she says, and recognize "the diversity that exists within Mormon feminism."
Peggy Fletcher Stack