Jesus’ concern and respect for women are 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. In 2017, 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 wide disparity exists between the sexes in the areas of life that make an abundant life: pay, education, health and political access. The World Economic Forum predicted in 2014 that it would take until 2095 to achieve global gender parity. Just one year later, it estimated that a slowdown “in the already glacial pace of progress meant the gender gap wouldn’t close entirely until 2133.” The 2016 report suggests that global gender parity is still far into the future: 2186.
This 2017 theme for International Women’s Day is #BeBoldForChange. We are invited to celebrate achievements of women “because visibility and awareness help drive positive change” and declare bold action “because purposeful action can accelerate global parity across the world.” As Christians, we need look no further than Jesus’ ministry with and for women to know that we, too, are called to #BeBoldForChange.
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)