International Women's Day 2015: make it happen

International Womens Day
All around the world, International Women's Day provides an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women while calling for greater equality.

All around the world, International Women's Day provides an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women while calling for greater equality.

Celebrated on March 8 every year since 1911, thousands of events occur to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women. Organisations, governments, charities, educational institutions, women's groups, the media – and faith groups - celebrate the day.

To mark this day two inspirational women share their story, one from our partner church the United Church of Zambia and one from the Church of Scotland. Rev Margaret Fowler, a Scottish minister of the United Church of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands also shares a prayer prepared specially for this event. You can also download and share on social media our infographic which gives a historical timeline of the role and impact of inspirational women in the Church of Scotland.

Deaconess Mable Kifwabantu Sichali is the Community Development Social and Justice Secretary for the United Church of Zambia (UCZ)

"I was born into a Christian family from the UCZ. My father died when I was a young girl in 1984, causing life to change for us. We had very little school sponsorship as my mother was a civil servant and was poorly paid, and so to survive I had to work to raise money to go to school. It was survival of the fittest.

"One day in September 1992 my elder sister's son suddenly became ill. At church that day I felt the peace of God and had the conviction that I was being called to serve. This was a problem, having moved we were attending the Evangelical Church of Zambia, which has no female pastors and does not allow women to preach in front of men. However, over the following years I was surrounded by such a great witness of men and women of God who encouraged me to join the ministry. In 2004 I was admitted at the UCZ theological college and my journey as a diaconal worker in the UCZ started.

"During my first appointment in Mazabuka I coordinated women's work in three consistories, and in 2007 I founded Tugwashanye Support Network, an organisation working with orphans, vulnerable children, and widows, living with HIV and AIDS. In March 2014 I was appointed as Community Development Social and Justice Secretary, and currently work on projects including self-help groups (partnered by the Church of Scotland), and continue to negotiate for gender based violence support.

"When I look back and reflect on my life I feel I have come from nowhere. I never knew that one day I would tell my story because I never saw anything good coming out of my life. However I have seen the grace of God in my life - I am now a head of department and the first Deaconess to serve at management level in the history of the UCZ."

Hazel Watson is the chair of the Scottish Churches Anti-Human Trafficking Group and a member of the Church and Society Council

"Human trafficking is one of the most lucrative illicit businesses that operates on a global scale, and the trade in human beings is rising (United Nations 2014). Globally, women make up two thirds of the world's victims of human trafficking. While many find themselves locked into domestic servitude, the majority of whom are forced into commercial sexual exploitation. Violence, rape and threats to themselves and their families are common experiences. Women and young people who are UK citizens are also trafficked internally to provide sexual services and are controlled by the use of drugs and alcohol as well as fear or psychological dependence on their traffickers.

"My faith demands that I fight for the helpless and oppressed, so I am happy to be able to channel my energies through the Scottish Churches Anti-Human Trafficking Group, which is an ecumenical Christian group. We have produced information leaflets and developed resources for churches to use in prayer and church services. We raise awareness about human trafficking by running and workshops and talking with various groups such as Guilds, charitable organisations and school pupils and are active politically in campaigning to end human trafficking and exploitation of women and men, most recently advocating to criminalise the purchase of sex and decriminalise women who are charged with prostitution."

Originally from Scotland Rev Margaret Fowler has worked in Jamaica for 21 years on issues of sexual exploitation in the tourism industry. She is currently an ordained Minister of the United Church in Jamaica and The Cayman Islands

"Gracious God, thank you for call us to be part of your fellowship, the Church,
Today Lord as we come together and celebrate International Women's Day, we
remember our sister's throughout the world church.

The women that have to work two jobs in order to send their children to school
The women whose children have been taken away by force or some intervention
The women living in war zones trying to live a life of peace in the midst of violence
The women who just hope for a better tomorrow
The quiet women that just do their work and commitment themselves to their faith
Father, above all this day we pray for a peaceful world where all your children may
learn to live together in peace and unity.

Almighty God continue to inspire all of us so that we can play our part to build
up your kingdom wherever we are north, south, east or west. Bind us together in
sisterhood with chords of love that can never be broken.

This we pray in Jesus name Amen"

View an infographic charting the success of women in Scotland's national church