Sexism. Wage gap. Sexual harassment. Human trafficking. Gender bias.
With International Women’s Day next Sunday, Women’s History Month underway and the #MeToo movement coming back into the media spotlight with the Harvey Weinstein trial and verdict, this terminology and more are often on the forefront of people’s minds.
While we are blessed to live in a country where women can live and travel independently, participate in the political realm and voice their opinions, many women live in countries where these freedoms are not available.
For example, in Saudi Arabia, women can’t marry without their male guardians’ approval. Saudi women are required by law to wear certain clothing, cover their hair and limit makeup. The country only recently changed its laws to allow women to drive and to travel without a male guardian.
In comparison, women in America are empowered—a term meaning that women have the freedom to control their own lives and make a difference in their society. But while we’ve improved significantly regarding respectful and equal treatment of all women, some issues are still unresolved.
In His day, Jesus elevated the status of women, which was countercultural. He spoke freely to women in a world where speaking to women—especially women who were not Jews—was shocking and frowned upon. He healed and taught women just as He did men. In a culture where women’s testimonies meant nothing, He made sure that women were the first witnesses of His resurrection.
If Jesus treated and valued women equally to men, how much more should that encourage us to do the same? So we should all agree that men and women alike should be able to live safely, successfully and without discrimination.
Unfortunately, that is not always the case—here in America and even beyond. But instead of protesting, complaining or simply waiting for change, here are ways to empower the women around you—ways to make a difference, no matter how small, in the lives of women you know and love.
Support nonprofits that support women’s issues.
One in three women worldwide face physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime, according to the World Health Organization.
Many nonprofits, such as the Carolina Pregnancy Center, Save the Storks and Destiny Rescue, focus on supporting and rescuing women and children in need.
Whether the nonprofit helps women and children out of abuse and human trafficking or supports women through pregnancy, they depend upon donations and volunteers to keep the organization running.
And there are others organizations that help women improve business skills, that give children school supplies and that bring clean water to those who need it around the world.
Choose a nonprofit that supports the cause you’re invested in, because women and children who are safer, healthier and better educated will be more able to become successful and make a difference themselves.
Speak up for women in the workplace.
According to PEW Research Center, women are three times as likely as men to experience sexual harassment in the workplace. Additionally, 42% of working women say they have faced discrimination because of their gender.
If you see something that’s not right, stand up for what’s right. The more people who speak up, the more likely change will take place—and the workplace will improve.
When you see someone do something great, say so. Celebrate women’s achievements in the workplace and beyond. Let their achievements inspire you and others to learn and improve. Advocate for a female coworker’s promotion. Encourage them and give them compliments.
Jesus, in a time period where women were considered inferior, used women as moral examples to follow in His parables and teachings.
In this male-dominated culture, Jesus valued women as equal in the eyes of God and just as capable, smart, godly and hardworking. By building each other up and spreading positivity, you can encourage others to do the same and you can help women to become more successful.
Show appreciation for women.
Many studies including ones done by PEW Research Center show that women tend to do more household work and office “housework” compared to men, and this work frequently goes unnoticed and unpaid. Directly acknowledging this work allows women to be seen at work and appreciated at home.
So thank your coworker, mom, grandmother, aunt, sister, wife—any woman in your life who has helped or encouraged you.