March 8th is International Women’s Day. It’s a day to globally celebrate the economic, political, and social achievements of women past, present, and future.
I’m assuming that many in America have not heard of this day. I hadn’t either until a group of women from a church I was working with in Uganda went to celebrate it. I learned it was a day to celebrate women and the beautiful things they contribute to the world. It’s a day for equality, love, and justice. Things that, I think, the Church should be all about.
So this Women’s Day I am opening up the conversation to the Church, if you believe in the following things, you should be talking about #womensday too.
So without further ado, these are the reasons Christians should be talking about women’s day.
1. Because inequality exists.
Most of you have heard of Malala Yousafzai, the young girl who was shot in the face by the Taliban because she fought for her right to an education.
The Taliban had banned education for girls in her region of Northwest Pakistan, so Malala spoke out against the Taliban and in favor of girl’s education in her region. One morning while boarding a school bus, a gunman asked her name and proceeded to shoot the 15-year-old girl in the face three times. She survived and lived to tell her story, going on to write a book promoting girl’s education. Malala later said, “Extremists have shown what frightens them most: A girl with a book.”
In many cultures worldwide, girls are discouraged or even banned from getting an education. Two-thirds of the world’s uneducated children are girls. According to Educatinggirlsmatters.org,
Numerous studies have demonstrated that educating women and girls is the single most effective strategy to ensure the well-being and health of children, and the long-term success of developing economies.
There are compelling benefits associated with girls’ education:
Reduction of child and maternal mortality
Improvement of child nutrition and health
Lower birth rates
Enhancement of women’s domestic role and their political participation
Improvement of the economic productivity and growth
Protection of girls from HIV/AIDS, abuse and exploitation
Inequality still exists folks. I’ve seen it firsthand in numerous countries and cultures. The more we talk about it, the more we can do about it.
2. Because sub-human views of women are socially acceptable in some cultures.
Worldwide, rape is a very real threat. It is estimated that in the United States, one in five women will be raped during their lifetime. One in five, and this is coming from a country where equality is meant to be valued above all else.
Statistics in other countries are a lot harder to come by because rape is underreported, if reported at all. Many victims worldwide face death, violence, or ostracism if they speak out, so they keep quiet. There is one rape, however, that most people have heard about.
On December 6th, in New Delhi, India, a 23-year-old student was gang-raped on a public bus after the assailants had beat her male friend. She later died of horrific internal injuries. The story caused international outrage and many began to protest rape.
However, rape is only a symptom of a much more pervasive problem. In this case, the rape was committed because women are not seen as equals in Indian culture.
The rapist himself said, “A decent girl won’t roam around at nine o’clock at night. A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy. Housework and housekeeping is for girls, not roaming in discos and bars at night doing wrong things, wearing wrong clothes. About 20% of girls are good.”
Because the student was not doing “housework or housekeeping,” he saw rape as a justifiable action.
Women must be seen as equals or rape and violence will continue to be a reasonable response to women who are not behaving as they “should.”
3. Because women are valuable, contributing members of society and were created in God’s image.
Think of the Bible without Esther, or the Virgin Mary, or Mary Magdalene. Without Esther the Jewish race would have been killed in a mass genocide. Without the Virgin Mary we would not have Jesus Christ, our savior. Without Mary Magdalene the disciples may have never known that Christ had risen.
Or what about women and what they have contributed to the modern church? Mother Theresa showed us how powerful and self-sacrificing love is. Heidi Baker showed us that our God is still capable of modern miracles. And Kim Walker-Smith is leading a new generation into deeper levels of worship.
And even if none of these women did a thing for God or his people, they were created in the image of God and should be valued as such. “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27
Simply because women were created in the image of God, they should be valued and celebrated. It is time for the church, the whole church, to see the value of women. And celebrating days like Women’s Day is a good start.
4. Because talking about it changes things. Women are making progress globally.
There is good news for women globally, the more people talk about the issues that women are battling today, the more change we see. According to UN Women Website, we have seen great improvement in the following areas.
1) Education: Since 1995, we’ve reached a point where girls and boys worldwide are enrolling in primary school at almost equal rates. That is a huge step forward. The next step is secondary school, where the gender gap widens again.
2) Maternal Mortality: In the last 25 years, maternal mortality has dropped by 45%, which means that half of the women who survive childbirth today wouldn’t have made it in a different time. But there’s still more work to do — 800 women a day die from basic pregnancy complications, mostly in the developing world.
3) Water access: Water is an important issue for women, since in many developing countries girls are responsible for fetching water, a task so time-consuming and difficult that it can keep them out of school or put them in danger of being attacked. Between 1990 and 2010, 2 billion people gained access to clean drinking water, relieving the burden of water-fetching from girls. Still, in Sub-Saharan Africa, women spend 16 million hours for day getting water.
4) Leadership: Since 1995, the number of women serving in legislatures has nearly doubled — but that still only translates to 22% of politicians worldwide.
The conversation is changing things, and even though we still have a long way to go, there have been great advances in education and health since 1995. It shows us that progress is possible, and that we can make a difference in this world.
5. Because, as the Church, we are called to be agents of social change.
“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.” (Isaiah 61:1)
We are called to proclaim good news to the poor, to bind up the brokenhearted, and to proclaim freedom to the captives. Fortunately, the equality of women has shown to influence greatly all of the above areas. When girls and women are educated, the whole economy boosts, making poverty less of a threat. If women are viewed as equals, the threat of violence towards them greatly decreases. And if women were educating they would be far less likely to enter into sex trafficking.
There are thousands of women still living in the bondage of sex trafficking, I’ve met them personally, and we, as the Church, are called to release them from their chains.
God has chosen his Church to be his agents of change, we are his hands and his feet. And if we are ignoring the threats that face women on a global scale, we aren’t doing a very good job.
6. Because of your mother, sister, friend, grandmother, girlfriend, wife, or daughter.
If none of the above reasons have persuaded you to take a stance for the equality of women on Women’s Day, then perhaps this reason will. Women’s Day matters because of your mother, sister, grandmother, girlfriend, friend, wife, or daughter and the better world it creates for them.
It’s a day that celebrates contributions that women have made around the world and strives to make it a place where women can continue to be valuable members of society. It promotes the education, safety, and equality of women that you know and love.
When you raise your voice in favor of a day that celebrates these things, envision your loved one’s face and realize that you are making the world a better place for her.
The theme of this year’s women’s day is “make it happen,” so let’s take it a step further than just talking about it and do something about it.
There are many ways you can get involved, you can share this article or share the story of a woman who impacted you. You can contribute to women’s education in Afghanistan, or to International Justice Mission who works tirelessly to abolish slavery for men and women. You can volunteer at a local women’s shelter or go global with programs like The World Race. I don’t care what you do, just do something.
The point is that we can make the world a better place for women, but it all starts with a conversation. That’s why Christians and really everyone should be talking about #womensday today.
So, Church, let’s get talking.
This article originally appeared at PaintedOrange.org, published with permission.