Nothing compares to the strength and importance of a woman. March 1st marked the beginning of International women’s Month, and the Bureau of Gender Affairs kickstarted the celebration at a church service. The service happened at the Boulevard Baptist Church in Kingston.
Our nation has had many great women over the years; notable mentions include Nanny of the Maroons, Mary Seacole, Miss Lou, and Jamaica’s 7th Prime Minister, the Hon. Portia Simpson Miller. We celebrate that there are many powerful women in our society today. We also look forward to the power from the little girls who will grow into tomorrow’s leaders.
Soloist Kristal Morgan and the Boulevard Baptist Choir provided a musical offering to “I will give thee thanks”. Miss Morgan’s powerful voice illuminated the church, setting the stage for an even more powerful sermon given by guest Preacher Sherna-Gail Levi from the Salter’s Hill Baptist Church in St. James. The Reverend began her sermon with a prayer for Jamaica and the world. Shortly after, she stated, “Tuesday, March 8th will be recognized as International Women’s Day, and as we recognize that day, we do so, conscious of the fact that for years women have been marginalized globally and the struggle to obtain gender equality continues.” Rev Levi continued on the hardships women sustained throughout the years in the home, church, and workplace. Rev Levi used scripture to highlight the history of unfair and unnecessary treatment of women over time.
Scripture – Numbers 27 v1-11
The scripture that Rev Levi focused on highlights the plight of women dating back as far as the days of Moses. Zelophehad’s daughters didn’t have the chance to obtain their fathers’ assets after his death. Their defiance of the ‘norm’ was indeed a monumental moment in women’s history. They asked to speak to Moses, who at that time was the leader. The sisters pleaded for ownership of their father’s inheritance, which he granted.
During this biblical period, women were not allowed their parents’ inheritance. Inheritance in those times always passed to the son. The stance of the five sisters was a landmark in women’s rights regarding the estate of land. “These five sisters realized that too much was at stake, and they could no longer remain passive”, Reverend Levi said, depicting the importance of women being assertive to garner change.
Permanent Secretary Mr Denzil Thorpe was present to read the message from the Hon Babsy Grange, Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports, who was unavoidably absent. “Make a joyful noise” were Mr Thorpe’s instructions to the congregation. He then went on to read Psalms 100. He emphasized ridding bias’ of women to shed light on gender equality. “If you find that you are holding any bias, if you find that you are holding on to old, outdated ideas about a woman’s place in the world, I urge you to make a change. Start by changing your mind first, and then adjusting your behaviour accordingly.”
Mrs Sharon Coborn Robinson, Principal Director at the Bureau of Gender Affairs, explained the importance of International Women’s Month. “The celebration of March 8th as International Women’s Day marks a recognition of the struggles of women against all forms of discrimination and exploitation. It also focuses on the need for equality, national liberation, democracy, and progress, in countries all over the world.” She continued to point out that women’s loud and proud push throughout the world for recognized dignity created the movement that now is International Women’s Day.
The church service was empowering and emphasized the importance of women and the need for a mindset shift to bring forth change. Women’s Month shines a light on gender equality. Gender Equality is a non-negotiable concept. Therefore, society must see the utmost importance of breaking barriers that hinder such growth will remain paramount. The fight must continue as women continue to be strong and courageous in their quest for equality.