March 8, 2009
Dear friends, colleagues, and SCMers in the
National Movements of WSCF AP,
Women’s month’s Greetings of Peace and Solidarity
to you all!
The month March is dedicated for the women as we commemorate the struggle of the courageous women who fought for equality, justice, peace and development. Who have paved the way for us to continue our journey for women’s emancipation. This year once again we invite you all to participate and celebrate the International Women’s Day (IWD) in your National Movements with various activities. Since the whole month is dedicated for women you are free to choose the day to observe the IWD according to your convenience. This year 8th March falls on Sunday and we are celebrating the IWD simultaneously with the Lent Season, which is more meaningful for the Christian community. The Regional Women’s Programme of WSCF AP has come up with this liturgy to observe the IWD in your movements. The whole liturgy is prepared from the perspectives of women so you can find the voices of the suffering women, the affirmation of faith the Lord’s prayer and the benediction is interpreted from the perspectives of women in order to make it more relevant and affirmative. If you would like to translate this liturgy in your own languages with regional songs and would like to modify the order keeping the essence of the perspective from your country’s context, then you are welcome to do so. Kindly arrange to collect offerings and please contribute the offerings to some local organization working for women’s concerns by paying a visit to them in order to show our solidarity.
I hope and wish that every movement will have an opportunity to celebrate the IWD in your own context. We are also happy to inform you that WSCF AP, students from SCM Hong Kong and the Communication Department of Hong Kong Christian Council have come forward to prepare a radio programme and this liturgy is planned to broadcast on 8th March in Hong Kong.
As you have planned to observe the IWD with various activities we will be happy to receive your reflections of the celebration. Kindly send your reflections to the regional office with pictures.
Wish you all a very meaningful International Women’s Day!
Regional Women’s Coordinator
International Women’s Day (8th March) is an occasion marked by women’s groups around the world. This is a day of hope, a day of courage, of celebration for women who fought for equality, justice, peace and development. International Women’s Day is the story of ordinary women as makers of history; it is rooted in the centuries –old struggle for women to participate in society on an equal footing with men calling for “liberty, equality, fraternity”.
Here are some of the landmarks that led to the evolving of March 8, as the International Women’s Day:
Today more than a century after the real event, once again we are celebrating the significant day to commemorate the struggle of the courageous women who fought for peace, justice and human dignity. The struggles initiated by these extraordinary women have certainly paved the way to achieve women’s emancipation, but our journey is far from over, to achieve the vision of women emancipation. Today we live in a violent world and discrimination and violence against women are very much prevalent and eventually it’s taking different forms. Hence demanding for equality, justice, peace and development has become as relevant as a century ago.
Discrimination and violence experienced by women and girls based on gender and sex is extensive and continues to be a global epidemic. Women confront physical, psychological, sexual and economical exploitation in their day to day lives. In a fast changing globalised world women are not only victims of the violence generated by the patriarchal system, but also of poverty, exploitation and exclusion form the mainstream society by the neo-liberal economic system. It is one of the most pervasive of human rights violations, denying women and girls equality. Violence against women is present in every country, cutting across boundaries of culture, class, education, income, ethnicity and age.
Today 70% of the world’s poor are women and poverty remains a female face. Women are the targeted group of gender based violence. Women’s lives have become vulnerable in war conflicts and military base camps. As a result women are directly hit by the negative impact of migration. Trafficking of women has become an organized crime and is booming. Each year, an estimated 800,000 people are trafficked across borders 80 per cent of them women and girls. The greatest number of victims are believed to come from Asia (about 250,000 per year) Most of them end up trapped in the commercial sex trade.
‘Systematic rape’ used as a weapon of war, ethnic conflicts and caste conflicts as it has been witnessed in many countries including Bosnia, Congo, Sudan, Kenya, Vietnam and elsewhere has left millions of women and adolescent girls traumatized, forcibly impregnated, or infected with HIV. The increase rate of HIV/AIDS infected women has reached to more then 17 million worldwide and majority live in the least developed countries.
It is estimated that every day 3 Dalit* women are raped and every day 2 Dalits are murdered, and every day two Dalit houses are burnt. In every country between 10 and 69 per cent of women report they have been physically abused by an intimate partner in their lifetime. In Asia, at least 60 million girls are missing' due to prenatal sex selection, infanticide or neglect.
Female genital mutilation/cutting affects an estimated 130 million women and girls, particularly in African and middle east countries. Each year, 2 million more undergo the practice. Violence against women also takes the form of other evil practices such as child marriage, honour killings, acid burning, dowry-related violence, and widow inheritance.
The statistics of the violence against women enrage us and demand the law makers to combat the ongoing violence. The existed Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) which is ratified by many Asian countries to combat violence against women. Unfortunately due to the lack of awareness of the convention to the majority people and the lack of interest by the governments of many countries to implement the law the larger section of women are not benefited by this convention.
Let’s accept the fact that this is the reality and today we live with them. How does our faith response to these realities? How our vocation would address these realities? The Christian faith communities are celebrating the IWD simultaneously with the lent season. The Christian communities have different practice and traditions to observe the Lent Season. And it is more pertinent and significant to observe this day during Lent, as Lent is a time for us to repent and ask for forgiveness for our sins—the sins of omission and commission which has alienated us from God and have justified injustices, discrimination and violence against God’s creation.
We as a student community a faith based movement, show our solidarity to the women across the globe, during this significant lent season, let’s renew and reaffirm our faith to ask for forgiveness and reconciliation to reconnect with God to continue working towards a just world. Let the lent season inspire us and challenge us to speak up for the people who can not speak for themselves. Let our collective fasting prayers bring hope, peace, justice and reconciliation in the lives of many, particularly for the suffering women…..
Dalit are a community in India, who belong to the lowest strata of the Caste System practiced in India, as per the Hindu religion. They are treated as ‘untouchables’ by those communities who belong to the upper strata of caste systems, such as the Brahmins. Dalits are the most exploited and oppressed community in India and if one is born as a Dalit, his/her future generation continues to remain Dalits, as per the Caste system in India.