International Womens Day 2015

September 12, 2015 | Monastic Musings

Reflections from some of the nuns

Today we celebrate International Women’s day. Around the world we are holding in our heart and our prayer – the women of the past, the women of the present, and the women of the future. Today is an opportunity to reflect on the gift of the women of the past, of the work of the women of today and the legacy we hope to leave for the women of the future.

Who are we?
We are women born of the past generations,
we are women present in the here and now,
we dream of a future that is yet to be.

Who are we?
We are women made up of all nations and all races,
we include people from all countries of the world,
we come from down the road and round the corner.

Who are we?
We represent all cultures and languages,
we consist of all ages and abilities,
we embrace strangers as neighbours.

Who are we?
We are called to be God’s people.
Welcoming, embracing, relating, creating,
woven together into God’s community on earth.
(from: Clare McBeath 2011 IWD Prayer)

From IWD 2015 Patricia Banister, Chair of the Council for Australian Catholic Women asks us:

“As women in the Catholic Church are we letting God challenge, change, bless and heal us as we walk with God in our everyday lives? Can we resolve to be women who are passionate for God and in being passionate work towards improving the dignity, equality and justice for all women in our church?”

Today is a day when we celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities. Among them, these women come to mind – and in your mind I am sure there are many others…

  • Edit Stein, Anne Frank, Etty Hillesum – women of immense courage and dignity
  • St Mary MacKillop (Australia) – justice and dignity for all
  • Mother Teresa (India), Christina Noble (Mama Tina, Vietnam)
  • Catherine Hamlin – Fistula Foundation (Africa)
  • The Peace Pilgrim (United States)
  • Malala Yousafzai (Pakistan), Gillian Triggs (Australia)

Pause for a moment and call to mind those women who have been influential in your own life, who have encouraged and supported, inspired and believed in you.


As we celebrate and remember those women who have inspired and motivated us, also call to mind our women mystics. These women are well known and at home in our own contemplative traditions:

Hildegard of Bingen, Julian of Norwich, Gertrude of Helfta, Mechtild of Magdeburg, Catherine of Siena, Therese of Liseaux, Clare, Scholastica, Teresa of Avila. These are women strong and faith filled, loving and courageous, vocal in decrying the injustices of their times.

All of these women are powerful role models and guides for our own ordinary daily trod paths.

International Women Day LogoWhy is the colour purple associated with IWD? Purple was chosen as the colour because it symbolises justice and dignity – and these were the two values chosen to be associated with IWD.


JUSTICE looms large in the passionate causes of women throughout the ages. Justice for all, inclusive and embracing.

DIGNITY is not only something to be afforded to all, in the work and passions of these women – it is a characteristic of them personally – it is a quality of those who are living and growing in the life of Christ, in the life that they were created to be as expressions of God in this world.

Our prayer on this day are for all women and we especially remember:

  • Survivors and victims of physical, emotional and mental abuse in war zones, in countries of civil unrest;
  • Survivors and victims of physical, emotional and mental abuse in situations of domestic violence;
  • Women who are homeless, struggling to raise children and family in poverty;
  • Women who are unemployed;

We remember especially those women and children, who seek asylum in Australia and experience instead the horror of detention.

May we pray and work for justice and dignity for all.


Sr Magdalen Mather osb