As a woman, a sister, there is nothing more amazing and powerful than being with a gathering of women belting out the Helen Reddy anthem song “I am Woman”. I don’t know many women who haven’t fist-pumped the liberating words of the chorus (sing it with me women, I know you want to!).
“I am strong (STRONG—fist pump), I am invincible (INVINCIBLE—fist pump) I am WOMAN (loud almost yelling voice, with arms around each other).”
I don’t know many women who, after singing this song, don’t feel just a little bit taller, a little bit stronger and a little bit more invincible. This happened recently at the Weaving Wisdom and Wonder Uniting Women’s Conference. After a day of listening to inspiring stories of women, we were waiting in line for our evening meal and there was a spontaneous eruption of voices—it was fantastic!
But in the reality of my day-to-day existence I don’t wake up each day and think about being a woman … it doesn’t really occur to me. I don’t, as a woman in ministry, wake up and ask “what will I do today as a woman, where today will I do something differently because I’m a woman?”. I presume it’s the same for men.
I do however wake up each day grateful to God for who I am and, as much as I’d like to ignore it, I recognise that I have privilege and little personal experience of disadvantage compared to many people in the world, let alone many women in the world.
This privilege gave me a platform to have a voice and to speak out against injustice in the world even when I’d rather stay quiet.
It also gave me a responsibility to listen, really listen to the unheard voices—that means to stay quiet and give those voices space to be heard. It is about finding the balance. There is a time for speaking out and a time to stay quiet and listen.
The UN Women National Committee Australia theme for International Women’s Day 2019 is “More Powerful Together”. Everyone has a part to play in making a difference. This is not a gendered theme (well it’s gendered in the sense that it is International Women’s Day) but a challenge to both women and men to see ourselves as wanting the same things—a better world for our children, for people to be kinder to one another, for the world to be less violent, and for all people to have a fair go.
As Christians we are reminded of the words that Paul, a good and wise man and apostle of Jesus, wrote to the community of Galatia.
“There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male or female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28 NRSV).
Rev Yvonne McRostie is the Minister at St Paul’s Uniting Church, Stafford and Chairperson of Moreton Rivers Presbytery