As we slow down, breathing in the wonders that are all around us, we give you thanks, Mother of all creation. Amongst the rubble of so much loss we see the joy that bubbles forth. We pray that you will lead us to uncover the truth even when it’s painful for us to see. Guide us and we will follow.
We look with gratitude upon Dalit journalist, Meena Kotwal, who started The Mooknayak (leader of the voiceless), an online news portal which reports everyday atrocities against India’s deprived. Despite decades of constitutionally enshrined protections and affirmative action, every year thousands of Dalits are subjected to crimes, including rape, torture, acid attacks, and murder. Amidst threats of rape and death, Meena Kotwal dedicates her energy toward ending caste discrimination.
God of justice, bring your servant, Meena the strength to persevere during times of great adversity. Like the Persistent Widow, may Meena, and those who work alongside her, use their voices for the good of others.
We are inspired by the Kung Fu nuns who mix meditation with martial arts in Nagarjun, Nepal. It’s part of their spiritual mission to achieve gender equality. For as long as scholars of Buddhism remember, women in the Himalayas who sought to practice as spiritual equals with male monks were stigmatized, both by religious leaders and broader social customs. “We are changing rules of the game,” said Konchok Lhamo, a Kung Fu nun. “It is not enough to meditate on a cushion inside a monastery.”
God of strength, clothe the Kung Fu nuns in valor and tenacity. As they battle systemic obstacles, may they harness Deborah’s warrior spirt and lean into the battle for equality.
We honor Esther Mwema, an inequalities expert and artist from Zambia. A long-time activist on gendered safety issues, she is the founder of Digital Grassroots, focusing on technology and innovation for gender equality. “When we look at gender,” Esther says, “what is happening online is a replication of what is happening in the real world.” In a reality shaped by patriarchy, colonialism and other hierarchical systems, technology reflects—and furthers—the inequalities they produce.
God of equity, bestow upon Esther the steadfast faith of the five daughters of Zelophehad: Mahlah, Noa, Hoglah, Milcah and Tirzah. May their spirit of campaigning for women’s rights shine upon Esther.
We are grateful for The Rev. Becca Stevens, an author, speaker, Episcopal priest, social entrepreneur, founder and president of Thistle Farms in Nashville, Tennessee, USA noted for healing, empowering, and employing female survivors of human trafficking, prostitution, and addiction. The Thistle Farm model is currently being developed in 40 additional cities in the USA and in other countries.
God of healing, enfold Becca in your loving embrace. As she continues to nurture, heal, and advocate for women, may she be inspired by Hagar, a woman who was forced to flee and whose faith blossomed in the harshest of conditions.
We give thanks for Fawzia Koofi, Afghan politician, writer, and women’s rights activist, who has focused primarily on women’s rights: the improvement of women’s living conditions in Afghan prisons; the establishment of a commission to combat the issue of violence (especially sexual violence) against children; and the amendment of the Shia personal status law. Fawzia has survived several assassination attempts, yet continues the quest to bring freedom to the women and girls of Afghanistan.
God of all that is, shine a light for Fawzia. She has committed her life to end the atrocities that are happening to the women of her beloved Afghanistan. Like Mary Magdalene, may Fawzia find strength in knowing that her ministry is fueled by deep love, and not obligation.
We respectfully acknowledge Meaza Ashenafi, the first female Chief Justice of Ethiopia and a trailblazer in many ways, mainly for legal advocacy through her work with Ethiopian Women’s Lawyers Association (EWLA), an organization she co-founded with like-minded young female lawyers. “We brought the word ‘Sexual Abuse’ and ‘Sexual Harassment’ into the Amharic language, as there were no words to describe them.” Chief Justice Meaza is also a co-founder with other female businesswomen of Enat Bank, the first bank in Ethiopia founded by female-majority shareholders.
God of courage, grant Meaza the wisdom to know she is changing the world with the groundbreaking work she is doing. May Queen Vashti guide Meaza with her loud and clear message of “No More.”
Most Cherished One, we thank you for surrounding us with strong, determined, and courageous women. When we slide into complacency, nudge us into action. When we feel scared and alone, bring the voices of our ancestors into our hearts. When we witness injustice, fuel us with the truth. Through our dusty journey, love us as only a Mother can. Amen.