Today, March 8, millions of women around the world will observe a day set aside just for them.
It’s called International Women’s Day, and it began in the U.S. But most American women don’t commemorate it. Some don’t even know it exists.
International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate and honor women.
The first Women’s Day, held in New York in 1909, marked the one-year anniversary of the Garment Workers’ Strike. In the years following, the day started to become global. Women in Western Europe joined Americans to fight for one cause. Women’s suffrage.
But during the decades following 1917, although the scope had changed to an international Women’s Day, most people associated it with Communist countries. Russia and Eastern Europe celebrated International Women’s Day as a national holiday during the Cold War.
When I lived in Eastern Europe in the 1990s, International Women’s Day had morphed into a combination Valentine’s Day/Mother’s Day. It is the culmination of a week celebrating women and spring, beginning every year on March 1.
Rather than single out sweethearts and mothers, excluding other women, people give flowers and gifts to all the women who are important to them. I love the inclusiveness of the day!
Today, it’s observed as a national holiday in many countries around the globe. And in recent years, it has begun to return to its roots. Roots of social justice for the oppressed.
The United Nations considers International Women’s Day:
“a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.”
International Women’s Day is an opportunity to stand up for the oppressed.
Women in much of the world don’t feel like celebrating. They are trapped in lifestyles where they’re unable to provide the necessities of life for themselves or their dependent children. Flowers and chocolates can’t begin to touch their gaping needs.
They are the most vulnerable among us.
Regardless of whether you are male or female, Republican or Democrat, whatever religion you profess or don’t profess, all decent people should be appalled by the plight of many women and children around the world.
Poverty. Sex trafficking. Physical violence. Sexual abuse. Child labor. Education denied to girls.
The International Justice Mission states that today more than 45 million people are enslaved worldwide. According to the U.S. State Department, 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year, bringing 32 billion dollars to the predators. Of those trafficked, 80% are female and half are children.
Many women cannot speak out or stand up for themselves. We have to be their voice.
Let’s join together for one cause. To end trafficking.
People who love God should lead the charge. God is a “father of the fatherless and a defender of widows.” (Psalm 68:5).
What about us?
Asaph, one of the temple singers, tells us how we should live in Psalm 82:3:
“Defend the poor and fatherless; Do justice to the afflicted and needy.”
How do we do that?
Do you know girls and women who are poor?
What about fatherless orphans?
Is anyone in your community afflicted?
Are there needy people nearby?
Oppressed people are all around us, if we only open our eyes to see them. Let’s go a step further than seeing their need. Let’s ask God to open our hearts.
Defend them. Do justice to them.
For practical ideas, check out the International Justice Mission.