Invest in Women to Accelerate Progress: Inspire Inclusion

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Invest in Women to Accelerate Progress: Inspire Inclusion

The world celebrates 8th March, 2024, the 49th International Women’s Day, inaugurated by the United Nations in 1975 to officially recognize the monumental impact that women make around the world. History provides 1908, the initiation year for marching to promote the necessity of such a day in the US. The two world wars (1914-1918 and 1939-1945) significantly clarified the worth of contribution by women to the economic development and sustainability of states and households in several nations, where women replaced men who were actively involved in war. Countries like Norway however had earlier formulated women’s rights in the nineteenth century following the eminence of women exhibited in the era of the Scandinavian wars that birthed independence. The Norwegian Association for Women’s Rights was established in 1884, around which time women were permitted at universities and married women were finally given full legal capacity and the right to manage their own earnings in 1888.

This movement for women emancipation would never remain alien to Africa. In Uganda, the ruling party has for decades emphasized women empowerment as a top agenda. The 1986 liberation struggle remains historic for women, formally ushering in freer participation in the political, social, economic as well as religious arena. Whereas it remains a challenge in a society with a long-held structure of patriarchy and institutional, cultural beliefs, women’s emancipation remains one of the most fruitful ventures an African country has ever undertaken.

 Over eighty countries will join in celebration with a theme ‘Inspire Inclusion’ and an emphasis, ‘Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress’. The goal is to inspire others to understand and value women’s inclusion for a better world. The women themselves are inspired to be included thus enhancing a sense of belonging, relevance and empowerment. This should be intentional in all sectors to ensure a more inclusive world for women. When women are not present or included, we must ask: ‘if not, why not?’ When discrimination against the feminine gender is cited, we need to manifest it as a poor practice. Achieving gender equality and women’s wellbeing in all aspects of life is more crucial than ever, especially if we would like to create prosperous economies and a healthier planet.

The Quran states: “But those who do good—whether male or female—and have faith will enter Paradise and will never be wronged even as much as the speck on a date stone”2 (Quran 4:124). As such, women and men have the same religious and moral duties and responsibilities. The Bible states in Genesis 1:27 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them”. They were given equal tasks of ruling and subduing all creatures (Genesis 1:28). Schools and Faith-based organizations world over have done a great work in nurturing esteem and self worth among girls who have developed to serve the states, communities and households. While progress toward full inclusion is still on the upward incline, we can so far celebrate the steps that the church has done towards optimal involvement of women.

In 1990, the Women’s Ministry Department of the General Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists in the world initiated a special annual Sabbath dedicated to prayer. Every first Saturday in the month of March is set apart for the church and especially women to experience the power of prayer and the joy of praying together. This is because like Jesus said, some things cannot go away except by prayer and fasting (Matthew 17:21). This year’s theme was ‘ignite your prayer life’ with emphasis on change; hope, unity and forgiveness.  The second Sabbath of June is yet another day of emphasis on ministries by women, and the fourth Sabbath in August worldwide is for end-it-now campaign by women to dissolve all manner of abuse in our communities. As we celebrate the International Women’s Day this year, let us reflect on the six issues that impact women globally: abuse; poverty; health; illiteracy; workload; and leadership opportunities. In a special way, let us continue to nurture girls (and/or young women) to self-discovery of their value; education and training for self reliance; valuing sanctity of marriage; leadership and talent discovery; and healthful living. When you train a woman, you train a nation. Women have a unique and invaluable role as mothers who guide and nurture children. Thus, when women are strong, families are strong, and when families are strong, society is strong.

Elina Nakayima Rwanga (Mrs.)

Counselor and Leader of Young Women in Uganda, Seventh-Day Adventist Church.

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