The Way We Are


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It’s that time again—time to put the spotlight on women. It seems that thinking about  women in a deeply  consequential way is reserved for one day in the year. The rest of the time, it’s business as usual. But there doesn’t need to be  a lot of hyperbole about women, their specialness, and their gifts to humankind. Nineteenth century society did that already. At that time, women were considered delicate and precious,  genteel creatures incapable of participating in public life.  They were unique beings to be kept under wraps, their anatomical parts not to be seen or spoken about. In this regard, you may read with amusement  linguist Albert Marckwardt’s  observation in his  book American English, in which he tells us that at one time people were reluctant to say  the word “leg” because it was a part of the female anatomy.  So instead of chicken leg, they created the word  “drumstick.” Remember that next time you eat a drumstick at KFC.  Of course, nowadays, when it comes to women’s bodies,   there’s no hiding behind euphemisms.  Anything goes: nothing is left to the imagination.

It would be good, though,  if there were a normal and pervasive  consciousness  of women’s value  all  year long,  not just on one day. This month brings us to that one day again.  March 8  is International  Women’s Day, a day to reflect  on the “social,  political, economic, and cultural accomplishments”  of women worldwide. The day will be observed around the world with seminars, conferences, debates, and social gatherings. These meetings will, no doubt, single out women speakers who are educators,  television personalities, entrepreneurs, , politicians, artists, and writers, who will encourage their listeners to pursue equality in all their spheres of influence.

But when the day’s celebration is over and the emotions subside, we  will still be  left with one question to ponder: How is it  that the subjugation and abuse of women still exists in a world where there are so many high-profile  women in powerful positions? The name Mahsa Amini  should be familiar to all of us by now.  On September 16, 2022, Mahsa died  in a hospital in her homeland  under suspicious circumstances. She  had  been arrested and brutally beaten  for not wearing her hijab, the  head covering, in accordance with the government standards. The protests that erupted in  her home country after her death received worldwide attention, and both women and men joined in condemning the atrocity. Consider this. In  March 2022, International Women’s Day was celebrated with much fanfare. In September 2022, Mahsa Amini died  a brutal death,  a victim  of women’s subjugation.

In that same year,  Afghan women were  banned  in their own country from going to university to pursue higher education, and  girls there  will no longer have access to secondary schooling, no education beyond grade school. Even  female AID workers who are  doing  a great service to the country are subjected to the pervasive  repression. So, while with great enthusiasm we anticipate the  celebration  on  March 8, the reality is that much more needs to be done  to make the occasion a truly international  day of celebration for all women in all places,  shining a spotlight on  their their significance and their value.

The kind of  ruthless behavior exhibited toward women in some societies may be seen as extreme from our Western point of view, where women can exercise their rights without fear of physical reprisal.  And we can be grateful that ours is  a different era from that in 1908  when 15,000 women marched through the streets of New York City, demanding  better pay and voting rights. They  got involved and achieved results. Thanks to them and others like them.  This year on March 8, as we wear purple, the  official Women’s Day color, signifying justice and dignity, let us broaden our perspective to think of and pray for  the women  who, in many places in the world, have yet to experience  justice and dignity in their lives and in their land. Let us work for the day when those with the power to act will heed the prophet Isaiah’s call to “let the oppressed go free” (Isa. 58:6) and  allow women everywhere  to realize the benefits of equity.




           Wear Purple  on  March 8.

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  • Ouida E. Westney

    Thank you for your blog on women’s performance and potentials. It is so relevant for today – International Womens’ Day – and beyond!

    • Judith Nembhard

      Thank you for reading my blog, Ouida. Women’s value is recognized in many places.
      It would be great if that truth existed for all women in all places. Perhaps one day.

      Did you remember to wear purple? Thanks for your comment. JN

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