By Janelle John-Bates
International Women’s Day is rooted in the fight for and by women to be seen as equals and as valuable as our male counterparts. Its origin has been traced to the 1908 march by women in New York City for shorter hours, better pay and voting rights. International Women’s Day was officially celebrated for the first time on 19th March 1911 in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. Three years later, it was agreed that International Women’s Day would be commemorated on March 8. Since then, each year we celebrate the achievements of women and promote women’s right on this day. However, many women often feel that their day to day personal and professional contributions are overlooked.
The struggles of women in the early 20th century for respect, self governance and self actualization have not gone unnoticed by women today. It was because of the sacrifice of our foremothers that most women around the world can access their basic human rights and freedoms: the right to treatment equal to our male counterparts, freedom of thought and expression, right to marry a partner of our choosing, the right to work and the right to education. These rights and freedoms have allowed women to make significant, contributions to the advancement of the human race in all spheres. Rosa Parks (civil rights activists), Oprah Winfrey (media mogul/philanthropist), Serena Williams (sport), Indira Gandhi (politician), Beyonce (singer), Katherine Johnson (mathematician) , Dolly Nicholas (Chemist), Frida Kahlo (art), Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (author), Kim Mallalieu (computer engineer), and Beryle Mc Burnie (choreographer/dancer) all stand on the shoulders of great women before them and have paved the way for other dynamic women who have followed them.
Despite our dedication to our family at home and our ground-breaking achievements outside of the domestic domain, women often feel undervalued and unappreciated. The juggling act that most women undertake to balance personal and professional lives has now become almost expected instead of admired. However, good woman, the Lord sees you. The Lord sees the generosity and care you extend to those you encounter. In Proverbs 31: 14- 15; 19 – 21 it is recognized that a virtuous woman is often up before dawn, ensuring that her family, employees and the destitute have their basic needs met.
“She is like the merchant ships,
She brings her food from afar.
She also rises while it is yet night,
And provides food for her household,
And a portion for her maidservants….
She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her hand holds the spindle.
She extends her hand to the poor,
Yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy.
She is not afraid of snow for her household,
For all her household is clothed with scarlet”
In Proverbs, the wisdom and strength of women are also touted. Verses16- 17 and 26 respectively state:
“She considers a field and buys it;
From her profits she plants a vineyard.
She girds herself with strength,
And strengthens her arms.…
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
And on her tongue is the law of kindness.”
Whether at the helm of a million dollar industry or managing your own household, do not underestimate the value of your insights, good judgement, your vigour or mental fortitude. The worth of a caring, wise and strong woman is “far above rubies” (Proverbs 31:10).
Further, beyond what you, woman, can do for others, you are valuable because you are a creation of the Most High God. God formed your inward parts and covered you in your mother’s womb. You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139: 13 – 14). While the material accomplishments of women from 1900 to today are laudable, you deserve respect and honour solely as a child of God.
On International Women’s Day and everyday, El Roi, the God who sees, loves and appreciates all women for who they are intrinsically and what they do out of love for others. You are unique, lovable, resilient, wise, ambitious and worthy. The world may not always see it but He does. Keep being your best self.
By Janelle John-Bates
Janelle is the product of a home where developing a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and cultivating God-given talents and abilities were paramount. Consequently, her life has been one of service to others professionally as an Attorney at Law and through membership or participation in a variety of non-profit organizations. In her downtime, Janelle enjoys spending time with her family and puppy, writing and outdoor activities, including long distance running.