Today, March 8, is International Women’s Day (IWD). According to the IWD website, “International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality.”
This year, I am spending International Women’s Day at a training center 800 miles from home with women (and men) who are remarkable in the ways that they see people and teach others to see people. These women are leaders in their context. Half have advanced degrees, all have taught and led people at local, national, and/or global events. The people in their social circles know that they contribute to the ways people interact with one another in schools, churches, and neighborhoods. These are women who contribute to the economic systems in the locations where they live. They work and share their gifts to the world, and they carefully consume being mindful of their spending habits. The mothers in the group influence culture as they raise children to be respectful humans, and they seek to learn about the diverse cultures of the people who live in their neighborhoods. One is a publicly elected official. These women are remarkable in the ways they care for the souls of the people in their care, both publicly and privately. They are women in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s who want to see women and men flourish. Nevertheless, they are not women who are typically publicly celebrated. This isn’t because they are so humble that they like working behind the scenes, although they are humble. It’s because Christian culture isn’t in the habit of celebrating women.
In my circles, there are frequent conversations about creating emotionally safe spaces, and through those conversations, I recognize that one important component to a safe space is feeling both seen and celebrated. When we know someone sees us and celebrates us we are less likely to misinterpret a human misstep as something that was designed to bring us pain. When we feel seen and celebrated, we are more willing to engage in authentic and vulnerable conversations.
So today, let’s use International Women’s Day to add to the safety of our spaces and take a few moments to look around and celebrate. Let’s take a moment and applaud for the women we know who are usually leading from behind a curtain. Let’s pay attention to the ways the women around us have enhanced our lives. Let’s say thank you to women who have made a difference in our communities and our churches by enriching the social, economic, cultural, and political lives of those around them. However, as we do this, let’s also take a moment to reflect on ways that we can accelerate women’s equality. Let’s take a moment and reflect on ways that we can promote the flourishing of the women we know, especially those who contribute to our flourishing.