Since 1911, every March 8 is celebrated as International Women’s Day, in which more than 1,000 corporations, groups, and individuals from almost every country honor the valuable achievements of women and increase awareness regarding issues of equality. Many world leaders recognize the day with official statements, and people everywhere – in craft markets to corporate boardrooms – paint the day with purple.
A remarkably accomplished woman, Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this paper in 1908, was well aware of the need for valuing womanhood and promoting female equality. She believed the bias against women stemmed from a misconception of who we – both men and women – truly are and where we come from.
One way to gain a better sense of who we are is to refer to the first chapter of the Bible, which states, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Genesis 1:27). In her chapter called “Genesis” in “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” Mrs. Eddy explains that “man” is a generic term that holds no reference to gender. I find her book helpful in bringing out the spiritual message of the Bible, that we are all the whole and loved spiritual reflection of God. As God’s reflection, we all are complete, expressing the range of qualities that have their origin in God – from strength, courage, and wisdom to grace, compassion, and intuition. God, our Father and Mother, expresses God-like qualities throughout His creation, and He values each of His children equally. The more our global family understands this spiritual concept, the less women will be devalued.
I saw proof of how this understanding can improve the valuation of women. The example came through a couple, who are Christian Scientist friends of mine. They were expecting their first child, and the dad-to-be was convinced that he couldn’t appreciate or relate to a girl, so he was dreading to find out the gender of the child. The couple, especially the wife, actually prayed to know that he would find a way to have a greater appreciation for feminine qualities. In her prayers, she thought deeply about a statement Mrs. Eddy wrote, “Love is impartial and universal in its adaptation and bestowals” (Science and Health, p. 13). This divine Love, or God, is powerful and ever present and had the ability to awaken this impartial love in her husband’s heart. She prayed to understand that her husband, as the reflection of the all-embracing Father-Mother God, had the natural ability to reflect and embrace both male and female qualities. His ability to value womanhood was really an ability to value and understand a part of himself.
Her prayers were answered when her husband had to take a multi-hour flight home from a business trip. He was seated next to a 4-year-old girl, whose mom was sitting a row forward attending to two younger children. When he first assessed the seating situation, he looked around for a flight attendant. There were no other available seats, so he resigned himself to a long trip home. Perhaps, he thought, if he stuck his nose in a book he would go unnoticed.
But not so! The conversation began with the little girl offering him a stick of gum, which he accepted. Soon after she needed help opening her snack, which led to her asking for his help to see the movie better. She even fell asleep with her head on his shoulder. At one point during the flight the husband asked the girl’s mother if he could pray for her daughter because she said her tummy was feeling “rumbly.” After he prayed for her, she felt perfectly well. By the end of the flight, she took his hand and told him that she loved him. Of course, he was a puddle. She had softened a hard heart, and he knew a tender, loving daughter would be more than fine with him. It seems he caught a glimpse of the deep value of her as the reflection of pure, gentle, divine Love. She made such an impact on him that he easily persuaded his wife that their newborn daughter’s middle name should be the first name of that little girl’s on the plane. Now many years since, the dad speaks with pride and appreciation for the brilliance, fun, and richness his daughter has added to his life and how he “can’t imagine missing out on her.”
Yes, March 8 is a good day, as is every day, to value women – in the home, in the workplace, and across the world.