(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Tuesday morning, 8 March 2016–International Women’s Day)
Let us remember we are in the holy presence of a loving God.
Most people don’t know this about me, but I am the first female on my mother’s side of the family to go to college. My mom grew up on the tiny Portuguese island of San Miguel, in the Azores off the coast of Portugal and did not come to the U.S. until she was 18 years old. She has told me countless stories of living in destitute poverty: not owning shoes until she was 14, getting a bag of orange peels for Christmas, and living in a tiny house with a dirt floor. I find all of this mind boggling. Mostly because I stand in such a different place economically. As a college educated member of the American middle class, I enjoy comforts and luxuries my mother could have never even dreamed about fifty years ago. I am grateful for my lifestyle, but mostly I am humbled by the sacrifices so many of the women in my family made for me to standing where I am. And I try not to forget them or their legacy.
Today—March 8—marks International Women’s Day and truly women have made so much progress in our world–educationally, politically, and economically. But before we get too comfortable, let us consider the following:
● According to the World Health Organization, one in three women worldwide will experience physical or sexual violence in her lifetime, usually at the hands of a male she knows.
● Girls bear the brunt of global poverty. Nearly 75% of girls in developing countries like Bangledesh, Mali, or Niger are married by the age of 16 and never attend school.
● And in the US, women who work full time make 78 cents for every dollar earned by her male counterpart.
So while girls and women have made progress, we have much work still to do. This morning I ask you to consider how you might help the girls around you achieve their ambitions and dreams? How can you challenge gender bias when you see it in action? And how can we together create more inclusive communities? Or borrowing St. Paul’s words to the Galatians, how do we move beyond gender stereotypes and recognize that in Jesus, “there is neither male nor female” and that we are all one in Christ.
Let us pray:
God of tender mercy–
help us to do our part and move beyond false assumptions and mistaken beliefs about gender. Help us to create a world that is safe for girls and women everywhere. Help us to see that every woman we meet is someone’s daughter or sister.
Gracious God. You desire the fullness of life for all of your children. And until this is a reality, help us work tirelessly for your kingdom.
St John Baptist de La Salle: Pray for Us
Live Jesus in our Hearts: Forever!
Cristine Estes—Religion Department Chairperson