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Happy International Woman’s Day

March 8, 2015

It is March 8, 2015.  This date has double significance.  First, it means that I need to have all papers graded and grades entered by Thursday morning, which means at this exact moment, I am procrastinating.  Second, and more importantly, it means that today is International Woman’s Day.IMG_2690

Here in the USA, we too often overlook this day.  Other than the interesting Google doodle that people glance at and momentarily wonder the significance, International Woman’s Day is ignored.  Why do we need to pay attention to International Woman’s Day?  Women have the same rights as men the US, right?  We vote, we drive (unlike in Saudi Arabia), we hold jobs outside our house, and we arrange our own marriages out of love, not after parental decisions.  We are not subject to female circumcision.  Our lives are pretty good, we think.

We forget.

We forget that those in faraway places are our sisters–sisters who are forced into marriage at 14 or 16 (or 12), sisters who can’t get loans, sister who aren’t allowed schooling, sisters who can’t drive cars, sisters who are circumcised sisters who die or are deformed from improper care in childbirth.  They are our sisters.  As they suffer, we should be aware of their sufferings and do something.

We forget.

We forget that even in the US, women are subjected to different standards than men.  Women are bossy or pushy, instead of demonstrating strong leadership skills like men.  Women are expected to dress in ways that encourage men to be respectful of them, instead of men being expected to be respectful of women no matter what they are wearing or what they have had to drink.  Women’s maternity leave and rights in the US are some of the smallest in the developed world.   Men and boys are excused for any trouble they may get into because “boys will be boys,” or “he is all boy.”  It is still an insult to be called a girl.

As long as my daughter feels like she needs to dress a certain way so the boys will stay play tag with her, we need International Woman’s Day.  As long as I hear stories about high school science teachers ignoring and being condescending to girls in their advanced classes, we need International Woman’s Day.  As long as women need to be airbrushed to be in magazines or advertisements, we need International Woman’s Day.  As long as women and girls are insulted for their appearance or being strong, we need International Woman’s Day.

“There is no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female.  For you are all one in Christ Jesus.”  Galatians 3:28 NLT

We need International Woman’s Day to raise our voice and recognize that even in the US, there are still double standards and oppression against women.

A short booklist of influential or life changing books on women:

Half the Sky-Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn (there is also a PBS documentary by the same name and a follow-up book/documentary:  A Path Appears).

Half the Church– Carolyn Custis James

Jesus Feminist-Sarah Bessey

Heart of Flesh -Joan Chittister

The Friendship of Women– Joan Chittister

 

Today, in addition to recognizing that we still have so far valuing women’s lives, opinions, and personalities as much as men’s, I am remembering all the women of valor (those Proverbs 31) women in my life.  As Rachel Held Evans, said in her book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood, being a woman of valor doesn’t mean using Proverbs 31 as a checklist of the impossible tasks women are to complete.  Rather it is celebrating those valorous things the women around us do all the time–with strength of character and walking with God, whether it is taking care of a sick baby, nursing a child in the middle of the night, choosing not to have child, becoming a successful business woman, becoming a doctor or a pastor of a church, teaching, caring for others, making executive decisions for a household or business.  The list is endless.  I am thankful to have been surrounded by women of valor my entire life–spunky women, women of faith, women with a sense of humor, women who felt compelled to do something for someone, no matter how little or big.  Today, I honor them as well.

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