International Women’s Day

FJ March 2024

The first International Women’s Day (IWD) was held in March 1911. The official website states:

“IWD isn’t country, group or organisation specific. It’s a day of collective global activism and celebration that belongs to all those committed to forging women’s equality.”

In considering IWD as a topic for this month’s Faith Journey, I was conscious that some readers have experienced trauma at the hands of members of the Catholic Church. This is a great sadness for our Church, yet we must also acknowledge that Catholic Social Teaching and Gospel values have contributed significantly to building a culture that celebrates and respects the equality of women. Holding these two perspectives in tension can be challenging — but necessary.

In my own faith journey, I have witnessed the extraordinarily good work done by Catholics to support women. By this I mean Catholic health care, social welfare (including housing and support for victims of domestic violence), programs dedicated to raising the education levels of women and specialist care for women requiring support during pregnancy. Globally, Catholic agencies such as Caritas and Catholic Mission are at the forefront of assisting women in extreme poverty and those affected by war and natural disasters.

In the tradition of the Catholic Church, we have many amazing women who have contributed significantly to improving the lives of women. Caroline Chisholm, St Mary of the Cross MacKillop and Eileen O’Connor are examples of Australian women who worked tirelessly, and practically, to raise the dignity of women.

As Catholics, or those considering becoming a Catholic, we can ask ourselves: What role do I play in forging women’s equality? Do I follow Jesus’ lead and actively call out injustice when I see it in the workplace, in the home, or in society? Do I contribute in practical ways to help women who are living at the peripheries so they can have a better life? Do I thank God and pray for the women in my life?

As the world celebrates IWD, let us pray in word and action that all women may receive the dignity that comes with being made in the image and likeness of God.


Australian Catholic women speak about leadership, Evangelise Plus (National Centre for Evangelisation) – the new video series will be released on IWD, 8 March 2024.
International Women’s Day (website)
Pope praises the role of women in the Church, 9 March 2023 (website, video)


Image: Lightstock
Words: Sharon Brewer

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