Thank God for Women is a blog series rooted in gratitude for the strength, courage, and incredible capacity women demonstrate.
A few years ago, a dear friend gave me a book titled, Women Are Heroes. It is filled with beautiful portraits and stories of women around the world whose very existence is heroic. I flip through it often and I am constantly inspired by the resilience, strength and grace that women posses.
You don’t have to look very far to find disturbing statistics about women across the globe. Women, on average, still make less than men. We are more prone to being victimized by sexual violence. We have less access to education. The list goes on. But somehow, despite all of the data, there are women who continue to defy the odds—fighting for justice in their communities, raising families with inadequate resources, building businesses out of nothing, and striving for educational opportunities to not only better themselves but the people around them as well.
My line of work has afforded me the privilege of traveling all around the world and wherever I go, I am always in awe of the women I meet.
I have visited with women in war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo. Women who have lived through atrocities of war and sexual violence against their bodies. But in spite of all they have experienced, they continue to work towards the healing of themselves, their own, and the healing of other women in their communities. These women speak of forgiveness, hope and peacebuilding in their communities.
I have listened to women in Kenya share how they started a savings group so that they could pay for their kids’ uniforms and school fees. They were soon able to start their own businesses, and then began to pay the school fees for other children in the community who were in need.
I have sat with women from both Israel and Palestine as they shared their painful stories of loss, what forgiveness looks like and how they can begin to lead their communities to understand the narrative of the “other.”
I am surrounded by countless women—many whom I am honored to call friends—here in the United States who have committed their lives to advocate for those who suffer under the oppression of racial, gender, and economic injustice.
When women are not allowed to fully express their God-given potential, it is affront to our Creator and a disservice to all of humanity.
Throughout history, countless women have ignored the limitations that society has placed on them and fought, against all odds, for the opportunity to flourish. Women like Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Malala Yousafzai, Yuri Kochiyama, Berta Cáceres, Katherine G. Johnson, Septima Clark, the millions of refugee women around the world—the list goes on. These women have blazed trails, smashed ceilings, fought countless battles so that the next generation could dream bigger, soar higher and achieve things they never thought to be possible.
The fight for women’s rights means equal rights for all. Women work for the betterment of families, communities and nations. There is a deep understanding that we are all connected to each other and we all rise and fall together.
So today—and every day—I thank God for women. The dreamers, troublemakers, peacemakers, bridge builders, trailblazers, ceiling crushers, and image bearers of the Creator. The women who see injustice in our world and refuse to stay silent. Those who work to infuse radical love and hope into our world.
Women are heroes and I stand on the shoulders of the ones who have gone before me, and I link arms with the present day warriors. Together, we continue the fight for justice for all people.
Chi Chi Okwu is a Senior Church Advisor for World Vision USA—working with churches and parachurch organizations to build strategic partnerships focusing on community development and relief work globally. She is passionate about issues relating to faith and justice specifically in the areas of race, gender and reconciliation, and enjoys speaking and writing on those topics. Chi Chi currently resides in Chicago and enjoys traveling, cooking, watching sports and spending quality time with friends and family.