‘Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow’
International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated around the world on the 8th of March and is a day to reflect on how far we have come and how far we still have to go to truly achieve gender equality.
The 2022 UN theme for International Women’s Day is “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”, looking to highlight the contribution of women and girls around the globe, who participate in their communities promoting on climate change adaptation, mitigation, and response, in order to build a more sustainable future for all.
Reading from the Church Document- Gaudium et Spes
In our times a special obligation binds us to make ourselves the neighbour of every person without exception and of actively helping them when they come across our path, whether be an old person abandoned by all, a foreign labourer unjustly looked down upon, a refugee, a child born of an unlawful union and wrongly suffering for a sin she/he did not commit, or a hungry person who disturbs our conscience by recalling the voice of the Lord, “As long as you did it for one of these the least of my brethren, you did it for me” (Matt. 25:40).
Furthermore, whatever is opposed to life itself, such as any type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia or wilful self-destruction, whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, torments inflicted on body or mind, attempts to coerce the will itself; whatever insults human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children; as well as disgraceful working conditions, where people are treated as mere tools for profit, rather than as free and responsible persons; all these things and others of their like are infamies indeed. They poison human society, but they do more harm to those who practice them than those who suffer from the injury. Moreover, they are supreme dishonour to the Creator.
Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern Word (#27)
May the God of Eve teach you to dance,
May the God of Hagar bring you comfort in the desert,
May the God of Miriam bring companions to you when you struggle,
May the God of Deborah teach you courage for your battles,
May the Christ who knew Mary and Martha show you the way of balance,
May the Christ who healed the bent-over woman heal your pain,
May the Christ of Mary Magdala send you out to proclaim your story,
In the name of Christ who is the memory and hope of the future.
(Niluka Perera, Sri Lanka)
Prayer of St Francis – Adapted
Lord, make me an instrument of peace:
Bless all women who daily strive to bring peace
to their communities, their homes and their hearts.
Give them strength to continue to turn swords into plowshares.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love:
We pray for all women who face prejudice,
Inequality and gender disparities
Help us see and to face the discrimination against women
in all the many forms it may take.
Where there is injury, pardon:
Comfort all women who suffer from the pain of war,
violence, and abuse.
Help them to become instruments
of their own reconciliation and peace.
Where there is division, unity:
Forgive all women and men who let differences
breed hate and discrimination.
Let your example of valuing all of creation
help us to see that we are equal partners
in the stewardship of your world.
Where there is darkness, light; where there is untruth, truth:
Comfort all women who struggle in the darkness
Of abuse, poverty, and loneliness
May we stand with them in light to acknowledge their suffering
And strive to remove the burdens of shame or embarrassment.
Where there is doubt, true faith:
We pray for all women who live in fear
Of their husbands, fathers, and forces that control their lives
Help them to be empowered to be their true selves
Through your everlasting love and faith
Where there is despair, hope:
We pray for all women who live in the despair
Of poverty, violence, trafficking, slavery, and abuse
May the light of your love bring them hope.
Where there is sadness, new joy:
Help us to see the strength and goodness in all women and men.
Transform our hearts to celebrate the love and grace of all people.
And may we be blessed with the courage of St. Clare of Assisi
to follow our own path of love for you and all sisters and brothers.
How are you responding to the issues of gender inequality in your locality?
Adapted from the Women’s Day Prayer prepared by the OLA Commission for Justice, Peace, Integrity of Creation and Child Safeguarding