International Women’s Day is dedicated to the celebration of women’s social, economic and political achievements worldwide. In the United States, this official day of observance is rooted in women’s efforts to campaign for rights to work, vote and hold public office, culminating on March 8, 1908, when 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter work hours, better pay, voting rights, and an end to sweatshop conditions and child labor. In the early 1910s, the concept gained recognition in the international community and grew momentum as women across Europe continued to fight for the right to work and protest against ensuing world conflict.
While this day is a bit of a big deal around the world, it gets little press in the US. This is the third year in which I’ve participated in blogging projects related to this day. In 2006I participated in the Gridblog to Dismantle Patriarchy and in 2007the Blog Against Sexism. This year I’ve heard calls for comments on what it means for women to have a voice.
The above was posted by Julie Clawson on One Hand Clapping. I just recently started blogging and even more recently found Clawson’s blogs. I feel blessed to have done so. So far I have found Clawson to be wise, intelligent, sensitive, and vulnerable. All traits I happen to admire. I hope we hear a great deal more from her as time goes by.
Another woman, Kathy Escobar, whose blog I recently found via Emergent Village, had this to say about a workshop she conducted at the New Conspirators Conference:
i believe all men and women were created with a powerful voice (and powerful doesn’t mean just loud). a voice meant to express itself, impact others, live out passion, affect this world in small and big ways. this voice is not just for “ministry” in the typical church sense. to me, that would be a miss. it is about women finding their voices in all their relationships, with people, with God, with their-selves, in ministry, in the workplace, in the deepest places of their heart. it’s about stepping into His image in us and quit holding back out of fear, doubt, and insecurity.
She added this quote from Makeesha Fisher toward the end of her post: “if you send the message that the voice of the other doesn’t matter, don’t be surprised when given the chance they don’t want to speak.”
I wanted to highlight these women, not because they are the best out there, since quite frankly I do not really have a clue about who is out there, but because they seem eager to start conversations and to encourage their sisters to join conversations about weightier issues than the Christmas bizarre and the annual church cookbook. I am proud of these women I hardly know because they are daring to ask questions and not accept pat answers that feel too much like pats on the head. These ladies, ladies like them, and the people in their lives who encourage and support them give me hope for the world in which my children are coming of age.
At times I have felt like I have been speaking to an empty room. I am comforted by the thought that the room will not remain empty forever. In truth some have been here with me all along; it’s just that the room is so large and the people in it so spread out that our voices often seem to be echoing off the back wall instead of finding a place to rest in the hearts and minds of those standing here with us.
I am thankful for the strong voices of Julie Clawson and Kathy Escobar. I am reminded of the song “Revival” of the Revival in Belfast CD by Robin Marks. It begins with a voice singing in the wilderness and concludes with a declaration of God’s love for the city, the streets, the preacher, and the drug addict. Clawson and Escobar may feel like they are in the wilderness at times but the singing in the streets is coming!