Zambia commemorates two national holidays in the same week in their calendar: International Women's Day (March 8) and International Youth Day (March 12). Just as last year, we observed these days with special chapel services at MEF, and there were parades and demonstrations in Kitwe in which many students, workers, and staff participated. A neighbor with a television set reported seeing some of us at the Women's Day parade on the local news.
This year, MEF hosted a workshop on gender-based violence in conjunction with International Women's Day. Usually this topic is the focus of two-week training sessions for which there is a substantial registration fee. This workshop was free and open to the entire campus. It was a fitting way to celebrate the holiday.
I planned to write a litany for our chapel service, but while online to look something up, I found all the ideas I wanted to include in a litany already developed for the occasion by a UN-related ecumenical group. We found it so meaningful that I would like to share it with all of you.
A Litany of Truth
.... As women we come to refute untruths, to challenge injustices, to confront oppressive structures that bind us. We, therefore, are called to declare the following truths:
One voice: IT IS NOT TRUE that women should feel and experience that being a woman is of secondary value to the community.
All: THIS IS TRUE: that women are created women, the image of God, co-workers with God in caring for life, in struggling for the liberation of humanity and for a world order that respects each one’s dignity.
One voice: IT IS NOT TRUE that land has to be robbed from women and their communities by transnational, profit-hungry companies.
All: THIS IS TRUE: that the earth belongs to the living God and God’s people belong to the earth.
One voice: IT IS NOT TRUE that women–and men–must remain divided by sexism, racism, economic injustices and imperialism.
All: THIS IS TRUE: that all women and men are called to be in solidarity with each other’s struggle for dignity and justice, to learn from one another and to challenge one another as sisters and brothers in critical and prophetic solidarity.
One voice: IT IS NOT TRUE that becoming a refugee is an acceptable and inevitable situation for millions of women and their children.
All: THIS IS TRUE: that the whole people of God is called to denounce militarism, to challenge the root causes of poverty in the name of God of Hagar, who as a refugee was the first person who dared to give God a name.
One voice: IT IS NOT TRUE that women should accept rape and incest, battering and humiliation, as the fate of women.
All: THIS IS TRUE: that Jesus Christ has come into the world to heal the broken community between women and men, to restore our sense of self, dignity and inclusion.
One voice: IT IS NOT TRUE that young girls should not be given the opportunity to learn how to read, to write, and how to analyze the developments of their countries.
All: THIS IS TRUE: that everyone is called to respond to the gift of life and to the needs of our community with all our heart, all our soul and all our reason.
One voice: IT IS NOT TRUE that sexual slavery, bondage and prostitution cannot be counteracted or eliminated.
All: THIS IS TRUE: that Jesus Christ has come into the world to overturn the tables of injustice, that women and men, empowered by the Holy Spirit, should challenge poverty and patriarchal culture.
One voice: IT IS NOT TRUE that women and men cannot live in mutual and just relationships, respecting one another’s integrity and personhood.
All: THIS IS TRUE: that God the Creator has given us the responsibility and trust to care for all of creation in humility and faithfulness, to work and to love as co-creators of God.
HOLY LIVING GOD, The day and the night whisper your name And sparrows proclaim your glory. Make us, by grace, the winds of justice and the flames of peace in the world. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Anna Karin Hammar and Jean Sindab
Into Action: A Resource for Participation in the Ecumenical Decade
Churches in Solidarity with Women