Goshen College celebrated International Women’s Day with two events on Wednesday, March 7: a special chapel held in the morning and a celebration in the evening.

Campus Pastor Reverend LaKendra Hardware preached the message for the International Women’s Day chapel. She began by reading select pieces of the Biblical creation story from Genesis 1:27-28 and 31, which describe the creation of man and woman. She called them “words of encouragement and a reminder” of two things: firstly, that man and woman were created as equals, and secondly, that humanity was created in God’s own image. She continued to reference these themes throughout her message.

In a later interview, Hardware said that she chose the passage and themes to reflect the international emphasis; “not ‘Women’s Day,” she said, “but International Women’s Day.”

She noted that the Christian community sometimes forgets to think about the Bible as history of an international nature with implications for people all over the world, not just those who are named within its pages. Hardware praised the “student leaders who decided that [the international emphasis] is what we want to honor.”

She also spoke about what it has meant for her as a woman — and particularly as a woman of color — to take on the strong leadership role of a pastor. Hardware said that it hasn’t always been easy, but that prayer and support from friends and mentors helped her to know that it was the right path for her to take.

She ended her Wednesday message by reminding the “ladies, women, sisters and sistas” listening that “we have power and authority as children of God… we carry the full potential of God within [us].”

That evening at 7 p.m., GC students, faculty and staff and Goshen community members gathered in the Newcomer Center. The celebration began with a performance by the GC Women’s World Choir. The song was introduced by Lana Smucker, a senior who spent SST in Tanzania working at a women’s sanctuary. She explained that the song was written and sung as a “nonviolent protest calling attention to injustice to women,” specifically with regard to the practice of female genital mutilation.

Second-year interdisciplinary major Nasim Rasoulipour, who helped to coordinate the event, officially opened the evening with a description of the day as a “global celebration… a collective effort of all who care about human rights.”

The program then moved to a section in which several students spoke about women who have had a significant impact on their lives. Multiple students spoke about their mothers, including senior Tabitha Immanuel, who told a story about being made fun of for her skin color and gender as a child. She said her mother taught her to remember that “for every one person that makes fun of you, there will be one that is standing by your side.”

The program ended with statistics about the disparities which still exist worldwide between the genders, and an announcement that GC is now collecting monetary donations as well as gifts of school supplies to support the education of women in India.

The Aseema Charitable Trust, based in Mumbai, India, will receive the funds that are collected throughout the month of March. For over 20 years, Aseema has been providing holistic and relevant education to Mumbai’s most neglected children – children living on the streets, or in slums and in inhuman conditions. Through various initiatives, Aseema reaches out to over 4,000 children annually.

Donations will help cover the cost of tuition, school supplies, uniforms (including raincoats and sports shoes), a medical examination and meals for an entire year. It will provide an opportunity to empower and educate them, just as you have had that opportunity.

Donation boxes are located around campus to collect the school supplies. For more information or to donate money, be in contact with Deeksha Pagar, dapagar@goshen.edu.