Recently, several BDS staff members and interns, including myself, attended Marked, a conference which invites people to discuss issues facing women around the world. Marked 2016’s conference focused on the theme of “The Pain and the Promise,” which deals with the fact that women all around the world are marked by violence, poverty, and death statistics that represent pain. But there is another more important mark: God’s promise to all people.
At the beginning of the conference, as we began trickling in and taking a seat at our assigned tables, the event organizer, Kim Bandy, spoke about Malala Yousafzai, an advocate for female education and the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate. She stated that what stuck with her about Malala’s story was not only what Malala did, but what her father has said about her. Malala’s father has stated that he was determined to instill in his daughter virtues of strength, and, when questioned about what made Malala courageous, he has told others, “Don’t ask me what I did. Ask me what I did not do. I did not clip her wings.” This assertion was so profound to me because this way of thinking is something we can apply to our lives on a day-to-day basis. People’s strength–and, in particular, women’s strength–is a result of the resources and promises they have received from the people around them. By not talking down to others and instead lifting everyone up around us, we can become resources for others. In many ways, that was God’s promise to us: that we would be a help to other people.
Women constantly hear discouraging promises on a daily basis, such as that they will not amount to anything because of their gender, but they are also promised by God that we are a gift. Furthermore, we have already been resourced certain gifts, and we are obligated to give back to others using the gifts we have been given. By following through with our gifts, we will be able to help other people grow and, as Kim stated, bloom as flowers placed under the sun.
Finally, our speaker left with us with the phrase: “we become what we celebrate.” For example, as a culture, we celebrate iPhones. We are constantly tapping our screens and viewing life through the lens of these small devices. By valuing our iPhones or smart phones, we show that we value efficiency and connectivity, and you have to wonder what would happen if we celebrated women’s success as wildly as we celebrate smartphones and technology? How would that eventually impact women everywhere?
As I left the conference, I was struck by the feeling that I have been promised not only to be more than a statistic, but that I have also been promised to use my gifts to celebrate and lift up other women so women everywhere can be marked by love and acceptance instead of hate and fear.
– Courtney Brady, Intern for Beautiful Dream Society