Jesus’ concern and respect for women is evident in Scripture—and quite astonishing for the day. He healed a very ill woman on the Sabbath (Luke 13:10–17); stood by a woman accused of adultery (John 8:1–11); raised from the dead the only son of a grieving mother and widow (Luke 7:11–15); publicly recognized the extravagant gifts of the poor widow (Mark 12:41–44) and the “sinful woman” (Luke 7:36–50); gave permission to set aside domestic chores for more important matters (Luke 10:38–42); shared the message of living water with a Samaritan woman at a well (John 4:7–30); and even appeared first to women after his resurrection (Matthew 28:1–10). Despite his radical care and consideration for women in his day, in our day many girls and women struggle to find a way to thrive in a world that often disregards (sometimes violently) their right to live into God’s intended abundance.
International Women’s Day (IWD) is a day set aside each year to address challenges that are unique to women and girls, including educational and vocational opportunity, voting rights, and an end to violence (domestic and as a weapon of war). This year, International Women’s Day programs and activities focus on the issue of gender parity. Gender parity can be defined simply as gender equality. But the issue itself is complex: in many places around the globe a yawning disparity exists between the sexes in the areas of life that make an abundant life: pay, education, health and political access. According to the IWD website, “While we celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women, progress towards gender parity has actually slowed in many places. Urgent concrete action is needed around the world to accelerate gender parity. . . . The World Economic Forum predicted in 2014 that it would take until 2095 to achieve global gender parity. Then one year later in 2015, they estimated that a slowdown in the already glacial pace of progress meant the gender gap wouldn't close entirely until 2133.” That’s right. 117 years. Can we as followers of Jesus Christ allow this and the next generations of women and girls to live within this gap?
International Women’s Day reminds us to reflect on our responsibility to make this world a just world.
Carissa Herold, Presbyterian Women in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Inc.
Let us pray
Generous and loving God, we thank you for your gift of Christ and for his ministry of abundant compassion and generosity. We ask that you bless each of us, female and male, so that we may “have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10b)