March 8 is celebrated as International Women’s Day (IWD). The two prominent themes for IWD this year include “The Gender Agenda: Gaining Momentum” (internationalwomensday.com) and “A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women” (UN Women).
This also coincides with President Obama signing the Violence Against Women Act into law today, extending criminal justice protections and provisions for victims of rape and domestic violence (for a brief reference see the Whitehouse factsheet).
Thankfully, much has been gained in the struggle for equality, but a few UN statistics remind us of the incredible amount of work that still needs to be done:
- Up to 50% of sexual assaults are committed against girls under the age of 16.
- Globally, 603 million women live in countries where domestic violence is not yet considered a crime.
- Up to 70% of women in the world report having experienced physical and/or sexual violence at some point in their lifetime.
We are reminded that violence and gender inequality are a threat to sustainability and further perpetuate the reality of poverty and hunger in the world. Check out ELCA World Hunger’s Gender and Hunger Toolkit, which has downloadable resources desginged for small groups to explore the connections between hunger gender inequality. A prayer from that toolkit:
Dear God, so often we forget the people of your world who are nameless and unseen to us. Help us to know that in your eyes none of us are faceless people for we are all made in your image. Creator God, help us to recall daily women and girls who become victims of atrocities everywhere. Let each of us in some way be your instruments of healing and empowerment. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen. (Jennie Malewski, adapted from Sing Out New Visions: Prayers, Poems, and Reflections by Women)
Henry Martinez serves as an education associate for ELCA World Hunger