The approach of International Women’s Day, March 8, encourages my reflection about the magnificent women who inspire me to be a better person.
We have so much to celebrate from the lives of incredible women. There is the compassion of Mother Theresa, the indomitable spirit of Margaret Thatcher, the bravery of Benazir Bhutto. In my own life, I celebrate the resolve of my great grandmother, who at age 84, walked several miles round trip from her farm to town determined to cast her vote for the first time. Her story taught me to never take my rights and responsibilities for granted.
There are so many women to celebrate on this day set aside to appreciate their gifts. But, I believe the best from all of them can be wrapped up in the story of the Women’s Peace Initiative of Liberia. This remarkable coalition of women of all ages, religions and ethnicity, armed only with faith and white T shirts, stood down the war loads and the unrestrained dictator who terrorized their families and communities in a long and brutal civil war. Their story has been captured in the acclaimed documentary, Pray the Devil Back to Hell. An originator and leader of the group, Leymah Gbowee, received the 2011 Nobel Pearce Prize for her leadership and unwavering commitment to the bring peace to her country.
If you ever wonder what you can first do to change yourself then to change the world, set aside an hour to watch the story of these amazingly ordinary women.
So, Leymah, Janet, Asatu, Vaiba, Etty and Etweda, you have taught me how to be a better mother, a better citizen, a better leader and a better person. These are the lessons I take from your story, explained in your own words. I can’t do better.
Have a Purpose Bigger than Yourself. “ We take this stand to secure the future for our children.”
Be the Difference. “ Step out and do the unimaginable.”
You Have All The Power You Need. “With this T Shirt, I am very powerful.”
Use the Command of a Simple Message. “ The Women of Liberia Want Peace Now.”
A Coalition of the Willing Will Overcome an Army of the Compelled. “It’s a showdown. Go get the women!” (My favorite line in the documentary.)
To women everywhere who show me the impossible is possible, Happy Women’s Day!