Updated: Apr 20, 2022
She is strong and respected and not afraid of the future. Proverbs 31: 25 Good News
As I write this, it is International Women’s Day, March 8th. Why do we need a day to recognize women?
It is honorable to give prominence to people whose stories are untold or appear insignificant by prevailing measuring sticks. In many cultures, women are viewed as inferior, and we see that with women in politics, education, science, medicine, business, you name it. We don’t find non-profit agencies trying to raise funds to send just the boys/men to school and get them proper healthcare. But there are MANY organizations that focus on women and girls getting access to education, healthcare, and materials to form their own businesses. Women deserve to be recognized for their triumphs, and their contributions.
Historically speaking, men author the books, write the letters, keep the records, and so much more. They make most of the society and family decisions, but women, women keep everything running behind the scenes. Sometimes this has been a quiet process, and other times, it’s fairly loud.
Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule. Queens have held power throughout history, going all the way back to pharaohs in Egypt and empresses in ancient China.
Part of what this day signifies is imagining a world where men and women truly are equals. That does not mean that women are better than men or vice versa, but that stereotypes, discrimination, and bias are not obstacles. Just the other day I saw someone on social media blaming a woman’s incredibly rude outburst on an airplane, on her hormones. As much as I didn’t appreciate what the woman was doing, her hormones had NOTHING to do with her temper! But this type of downplaying is still normative and acceptable in the eyes of many, and there are women who will also use it as a crutch.
It is important to value our strengths, not to dwell on weaknesses, unless they can be improved upon. It’s true that women, as well as men, share in sin:
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23
It’s true also that women, as well as men, share in the new life in Christ:
Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24 NIV
In the economic sphere, women face many obstacles and discouragements. There’s the wage gap, expectations of child-rearing and taking care of the house and family, being perceived as weak and driven by emotions, and stereotyped as not as smart (especially in science and math).
But, in the kingdom of God, we are called to encourage and support each other, men or women:
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV
It’s worth keeping in mind that the Bible is one of the few ancient texts where women are written about extensively. Some historians even suppose that at least one woman may have written parts of the Bible! There are judges like Deborah; teachers like Priscilla; Mary, mother of Jesus; Ruth, the Moabite; Esther, who became a queen and saved the Jews; and Rahab, who helped the Hebrews take Jericho.
What would God’s story be like if these women weren’t included? They were strong, and became respected, unafraid of what laid before them! And they didn’t let others stand in their way to achieve God’s plans for them.
Today we have strong women we can look up to as well, like Malala Yousefsai, Sonia Sotomayor, Kamala Harris (politics aside, she’s the first woman to hold this high of an office in the USA!), Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, or Solina Chau.
So happy International Women’s Day, even on Friday when this gets published. Let’s appreciate the women in our lives! Give them credit for what they have done for us, for others, and most importantly, for God’s plans.