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International Women’s Day

If you see women around the world wearing purple, green and white, they are celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8th. The colors representing justice, hope and purity, also represent a long struggle by women for equality in all its forms.

Blog by Sr. Judy Morris

On March 8, 1908, women working in the needle trades marched through New York City to protest child labor, advocate for women’s suffrage and safe working conditions. In 1910, International Women’s Day became an annual celebration.

Why is this important? Women continue to struggle for basic rights such as equality in education. In Afghanistan girls are only allowed to attend school through the sixth grade. Similar prohibitations exist in other middle eastern and African countries. Education is male-centric. Only recently were women allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia.

The Equal Rights Amendment remains an unachieved goal since the 1970’s. It simply calls for equal opportunities for women in the workplace and beyond. “Equal pay for equal work” is the mantra. According to the Pew Research Center, median hourly earnings of both full time and part time workers indicate that women’s earnings average 82% of what men earn for doing the same work.

The theme for the 2024 celebration of International Women’s Day is “Inspire Inclusion.” The planners of this day clearly state the importance of this day: “When we inspire others to understand and value women’s inclusion, we forge a better world. And when women themselves are inspired, there is a surge of belonging and empowerment.”

International Women’s Day gives focus to issues such as gender inequality, violence, and abuse against women. Domestic violence against women and rape continues to be serious issues of concern with one in five women in the United States being raped and one in three women experience physical violence.

The need for the empowerment of women was seen when the late Justice Sandra Day O’Conner was appointed to serve on the United States Supreme Court. A major glass ceiling was broken by a woman who, for many years, could not find a job as a lawyer even though she had a stellar academic record.

Water By Women celebrates the empowerment of women in countries around the world and Navajo Nation, who bring clean water to their families and a strong sense of community to other women and their families by sharing life-saving water filters. There are no complaints about the time invested in gathering the water, filtering and sharing with other women. Water Women are heroes who sacrifice their time and energy for family and neighbor, at times in the midst of danger. To confirm their commitment, they sign a covenant which focuses them serving other families as well as their own. They are not defined by poverty but their strength.

These women get it. They get the power shown in building community. Their work empowers others and encourages others to dedicate and celebrate their own empowerment. Since 2008, nearly 200,000 women have made a difference for families and neighbors through their commitment. They are women who inspire.

Unlike the Jewish prayer: “I thank you God I was not born a woman” they can pray, “I thank you God I was born a woman.”

4 thoughts on “International Women’s Day

  1. Sr. Judy Morris, your writing was so informative
    and appreciated. Thanks for your keen insights!
    Sr. Martina Stegman, OP

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