The first International Women’s Day was honoured by more than one million people in 1911 in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. Now celebrated around the world, International Women’s Day on March 8 is an opportunity to celebrate women’s achievements, while advocating for greater gender equity. Want to join in the celebrations? Here are seven ways you can get involved.
An equal world is an enabled world, and it’s up to each one of us to make gender equity a reality. Check out the resources on www.internationalwomensday.com to plan your own event at your corps, workplace or school. You can also download activity cards and selfie cards to help you promote action via social media.
2. Be Inspired by Women in Scripture
In a time when women were marginalized and persecuted, many fearless women stood firm in their faith and helped make a difference in God’s kingdom. Take some time to read the stories of the courageous women in the Bible—women like Ruth, who moved with her mother-in-law to a new country; Esther, who risked her life to save her people; Priscilla, who led the early church in Rome; and the five daughters of Zelophehad, who discussed land rights with Moses. Some of these women are well known, while others’ stories are found in less-read portions of Scripture, but all are inspiring and worth revisiting.
Women have helped shape history since the beginning of time. There are great biographies and autobiographies written about these inspiring women—women such as Marie Curie, Rosa Parks, Michelle Obama and even Catherine Booth. Pick up a magazine or newspaper and discover women making history right now—women such as the Governor General of Canada, Julie Payette, and climate activist Greta Thunberg. Celebrate these women by learning their stories.
4. Listen to a Woman’s Story
And speaking of stories, women don’t need to be famous to have a story worth telling. By listening to a woman’s story, you are giving her a voice and celebrating her value. Call your mother, take your wife for coffee, visit a shutin or sit with a woman at the soup kitchen. Ask her what she’s most proud of in her life or what her most cherished memory is. And then be quiet and receive. Her story is a gift.
5. Ask a Woman for Advice
Women are smart and are now employed in every societal role possible, with their participation in the Canadian workforce more than doubling in the last three decades. Still, women fill only 10.3 percent of seats on Canadian advisory boards, while a simple Google search, “Ask a woman for advice,” garners mostly responses that mirror the infamous “Dear Abby” column. Women are able to speak into a wide range of topics beyond dating and relationships and their voices need to be heard. In fact, a 2014 Statistics Canada report identifies studies from Canada, the United States, Australia and Europe which demonstrate that businesses with more women on their boards and in senior management outperform those with fewer women. So next time you need advice, try asking a woman.
6. Support a Woman in Business
One of the best ways you can support gender equity is to support a woman who is living it. Do you know a woman business owner? Shop at her store or make use of her company’s services. Not sure where to start? Purchase something from Others—Trade For Hope and empower women around the world who are learning a marketable skill, earning a fair wage and transforming their families and communities. Find out more at www.tradeforhope.com.
7. Celebrate the Women in Your Life
Whether it’s your wife, daughter, sister, mother, colleague or friend, it is important to encourage, support and celebrate the great women in your life. Thank them for all they have done for you, throw them a party, pray for them and support their goals and dreams. Honour them in love, not only on March 8, but every day of the year.
Captain Laura Van Schaick is the women’s ministries program and resource officer.