As we approach International Women's Day (March 8th) people around the world are celebrating the lives of women. In Malawi, though gender barriers have been overcome to an extent, there is still an incredible amount of gender inequality across the nation. I celebrate the fact that in previous years Malawi saw its first female president… but I mourn the fact that so many girls are still dropping out of school because they are forced to get married, forced to be house servants, or forced to work in the fields.
It is in the moments when I am overwhelmed by the lack of hope for a Malawian woman that I am encouraged by the International Women’s Day theme for the year “Make It Happen.” Because the life of a Malawian woman should not be hopeless! They should not be bound to the gender specific role of caring for a household. A Malawian girl should have the opportunity to stay in school, attend secondary school, and college! So how do we “Make it Happen?” How do we encourage and empower the women of Malawi to stand up for their rights and desire something greater?
The women of the Grace Alliance church are taking the first steps to create change this week. In celebration of Martyr’s Day (March 3rd) in Malawi it is common for church groups to collect money and spend time volunteering at hospitals and prisons. In previous years the women of the Grace Alliance Church have just sat back and followed the lead of the local Presbyterian group. This week however, the Grace Alliance woman are gathering together, and making it happen within their own group. Friday the women from all 30 churches will be gathering together. They have prepared skits, dramas, and songs to perform to share about Christ. The women have made plans to take up an offering and raise money to be used as they go and minister to people within their community. This is how a woman can “Make it Happen!” To recognize a problem and then follow through with planning and action steps to make it better.
This month as we focus on women in Malawi we will be sharing different pieces of what it means to be a Malawian woman. What do they go through? What does their day look like? What is holding them into these gender specific roles? We will also be sharing stories of women, our women, who are a part of the Grace Alliance Church and that work at the Grace Center, stories of women who are “Making it Happen” within their own lives.
- Jackie Weavill