Washington (BWA)--March 8 marks the centennial anniversary of International Women's Day. The Baptist World Alliance (BWA) joins in the observance by reminding Baptists that, as Christians, the BWA is dedicated to the empowerment and celebration of women.
International Women's Day was first observed in 1911. As 2011 marks the 100th commemoration of the day, organizers anticipate abundant celebrations around the globe. The aim of the anniversary is to "make the women of past proud, the women of current inspired, and the women of the future envisioned." The strides women have made toward equality will be remembered while participants will be challenged to continue the quest for justice.
The BWA's longstanding commitment to women centers on honoring both the gifts of women and seeking equality for them. For example, the 1988 BWA General Council resolution on women states that "we celebrate the multiple gifts and sensitivities women bring to the service of Jesus Christ and the work of the Baptist family around the world."
Furthermore, the BWA Women's Department, established in 1955, strives "to encourage and celebrate unity in Christ among Baptist women of the world." One way that the BWA Women's Department meets this goal is by providing materials for the annual Baptist Women's World Day of Prayer held on the first Monday of November. The Women's World Day of Prayer unites the Baptist world as women from across the globe gather in their own locations to bring common prayers for each other. Additionally, the BWA Women's Department is challenging its constituents to "dare to be a dangerous woman on International Women's Day." (For more information see: www.bwawd.org)
While the International Women's Day 100th commemoration marks much progress in the realm of gender equality, girls are still less likely to receive an education, with the disparity between genders increasing with each educational level, and illiteracy is more prevalent among women. Occupationally, women are underpaid compared to men and are relegated mainly to service industry employment. Instead of experiencing equality at home, women and girls are still primarily responsible for housework.
Among the most shocking statistics are the alarming numbers of women and girls who face poverty as well as those who are still victims of various types of violence in all spheres of life.
The BWA realizes that many women around the world still suffer from immense discrimination and injustice. In 2006 the BWA General Council resolved that it "deplores the violence against women and children and affirms that they are created in God's image with the right to live free from violence and exploitation."
For the past several years, a BWA Women's Department delegation attended the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), which is "dedicated exclusively to gender equality and the advancement of women." This year's CSW meeting, from February 22 to March 4, centers on the theme "Gender Education; Science and Technology; Employment."
The prayer of the BWA is that all Baptist Christians would ascribe to the principles set out in Galatians that "there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28b).