Strong. Hard working. Determined. Passionate. A force. A fighter.
With high expectations for all and an unwavering conviction for justice, it was easy to feel out of your depth when engaging in conversation with my aunt; especially as a young teenager. I found that the best practice was to sit back, be prepared to listen, and glean her words for wisdom.
In the summer of 2000, at 15 years old, I spent the afternoon sitting on my aunt’s porch while she painted the railings. She was focused on meticulously painting the curves and edges. She was also in the full thrust of a lecture.
Bored and immature, I removed one of her cigarettes from the pack, lit up and casually started smoking. It took a minute or two, but the waft of cigarette smoke eventually caught her attention. She wasn’t impressed, but she gave me grace. A good teacher can overlook the rebelliousness of a student when the lesson is highly valuable.
In this lecture, that lasted one if not two full coats of paint, she taught me the realities and responsibilities of being a woman. I believe future generations need to hear this. This is how I would summarize it:
Don’t surrender what you shouldn’t give away, but claim what is rightfully yours. And when you have persevered with success, examine your life and be grateful for what you have. Once you realize how truly fortunate you are, go find someone more vulnerable than you are and start fighting for them, too.
Don’t surrender what you shouldn’t give away, but claim what is rightfully yours.
I believe that a woman should know her rights, her gifts, her purpose and, most importantly, who she is in Christ. Rooted in the right foundation of knowledge, we can live an abundant life in every way.
At times, I have observed a pervasive influence that suggests we are perpetual victims. I have heard some individuals focus more on the ways we are oppressed rather than on the ways we have achieved success.
My heart breaks for any woman receiving the spirit of victimhood claiming that it is empowering.
I have been on the receiving end of prejudice, harassment and even victimization, however I will not accept the identity of a victim.
For me to accept that I am a victim, disadvantaged or oppressed would require me to surrender my rights and potential. I would also be rejecting who I am in Christ; a woman with a spirit of love, power and sound mind. No human has the power to define me this way unless I give them the authority to do so.
Rather, we live in an age of hope due in part to the women’s advocates that came before us. Our generation has the stewardship over this legacy which should not be taken casually or with entitlement.
2. Intentional Gratitude
And when you have persevered with success, examine your life and be grateful for what you have.
At any given moment in our life, we should be able to stop and take account of our blessings. Intentional gratitude is a cornerstone of contentment.
Our country is one of the few safe harbours left in a world where free societies are on the decline.
And yet, we still battle with sexual violence, human trafficking, objectification (often with the help of other complicit women), and there are other areas where ignorance prevails. Not all of these issues are gender exclusive, but the target is most frequently female.
The Women’s March of 2017 sparked intense controversy, meaningful conversation and a wide scale of emotion. Personally, I was humbled with gratitude that this type a protest was even legally possible. Then it broke my heart because we have sisters beyond our borders who do not have a fraction of our rights or privilege.
Let’s not shy away from the ugly truth. Frequently forgotten are the millions of women living without the most basic human rights. (WARNING: The following statistics are explicit and may be upsetting for some individuals.)
- In 2000, the United Nations estimate that 5,000 women were victims of honour killings each year. According to the BBC, other women’s advocacy groups suspect that the total is more than 20,000 women killed worldwide each year.
- According to UNICEF, 200 million girls and women alive today living in 30 countries have undergone female genital mutilation or cutting. This involves partial or total remove of various parts of her genitals, the narrowing of the vaginal opening as well as other harmful procedures for non-medical purposes including picking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterization. This is most often performed without anesthetic and in locations with poor sanitation.
- It is estimated that each year, 800,000 women and children are trafficked across international borders. These numbers do not include women and girls trafficked within countries.
- Over the last few years, thousands of women and little girls have been captured and sold as sex slaves. Via Google, you can find the ISIS rule book for raping a slave, as well as their price list. For all those who have fortunately to escape, thousands remain in captivity.
- Female infanticide and foeticide involves the deliberate killing of female babies and foetuses for the very fact that they are female. In the cultures where these deaths occur, females are considered of inferior value and less able to contribute to a family or society economically or otherwise. Or put another way, they aren’t valued to be worth living or born.
- 1,500 women die in child birth every day across Africa.
- According to UNESCO, globally 62 million girls are not attending primary or secondary school.
Once you realize how truly fortunate you are, go find someone more vulnerable than you are and start fighting for them, too.
I believe a woman achieves true empowerment when she stands up for the rights and freedoms of other women who have none.
Western women have fought for their rights to which end, I know they will continue. However, can we seek ways to actively advocate for those who are the most oppressed by ignorance, misogyny and tyranny?
Can we commit to supporting organizations who are on the ground right now rescuing and empowering these forgotten women?
The reality of being a woman in North America comes with great responsibilities…
Know yourself and your principles; do not compromise.
Evaluate your life and celebrate every blessing you have received.
Then, go advocate for a woman who needs your help.