Thursday, 05 March 2020

Each for Equal – IWD2020

Written by Dr Deidre Palmer


The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is “Each for Equal.” It asks us how we will forge a gender equal world, and urges us to celebrate women’s achievement, raise awareness against bias and take action for equality.

During my time as President, I have been inspired by the women I have encountered who are contributing to the life and mission of our Church.

These women are advocates for justice and equality, bearers of hope, reconcilers of love and renewal in our world. It is a privilege to listen to their stories of faith; their experiences of responding to grief and loss, and their creative initiatives for growing flourishing congregations and communities.

These include:

  • Women of all ages
  • Women who are leaders in the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress
  • Women who are pastors in bushfire affected areas
  • Women who are leaders in councils of our Church
  • Women who are mothers and grandmothers nurturing the next generations
  • Women who are mentoring other women, encouraging and supporting them in struggle and liberation
  • Women who are responding to the environmental crisis that faces us
  • Women who are leaders in their communities, theologians and teachers, advocating for the equality of women in Asia and the Pacific
  • Women who are writers and singers, giving voice to our deepest longings for freedom, love and hope.

On this International Women’s Day, I invite you to join me in honouring the women, whose lives and gifts are contributing to the flourishing of churches, communities, societies and our global community. One of the IWD themes this year is “Each for Equal”.

In its encouragement of us to advocate for gender equality, it has echoes of the Uniting Church’s “every member ministry”, based on the New Testament understanding of the Body of Christ, where each of us contributes our gifts to participating in God’s mission of justice and equality.

To truly celebrate women’s achievement, raise awareness against bias, and take action for equality – we need to take time to listen deeply to women’s stories. 

I am attending an International Women’s Day breakfast, where we will hear some of the story of Rhanee Tsetsakos, an Adnyamathanha woman who is a leader in the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress. Rhanee has recently published a book “Walking to Corroboree”, which narrates a story of the Adnyamathanha people, who originate from the Northern Flinders Ranges in South Australia.

In this story Rhanee shares “the beauty and wisdom of Australia’s First Peoples”. As Rhanee shares her personal story of faith, struggle and commitment to Covenanting relationships within the Uniting Church, she invites us as “Indigenous and Non—Indigenous Christians to work together effectively to break down walls and barriers to bring everyone closer together.”  

On this International Women’s Day, I encourage you to take time to have a conversation with a woman from your community, neighbourhood, congregation, workplace or family.

As you listen to her story, what are you hearing about what she values? What are her concerns and joys? What are her hopes? In what ways does her faith sustain and inspire her life?

As you listen to the stories of the women in your life and communities, how will you contribute to a world where their stories are all valued, where every voice is heard, and God’s desire for us to live abundantly is fulfilled?

May Christ, our Liberator, continue to call us, women and men, into life-giving relationship and community, that reflects God’s deep desire for love, peace, justice and reconciliation for us all.