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Written by Joanne Blaney.
As we commemorate International Women’s Day on March 8, we remember the many women of courage and hope in our world. We celebrate the improvements in the lives of women and girls in some areas; however we know that there is still much to be done for those who suffer from prejudice, abuse, poverty, lack of health care, trafficking and war. According to current UN global statistics, one in three women will be beaten or raped during their lifetime, millions lack prenatal care, more than 35 million girls between the ages of 6 and 15 have never been to school and one third of women between the ages of 20-24 were child brides.
In a special way, I would like to remember Dona Cida whose son was brutally murdered in São Paulo, Brazil. Dona Cida completed a journey of forgiveness and restorative justice that is truly an example to many for her witness to gospel values in a world so racked by violence and the desire for revenge. When asked, “Do you still believe in a world of justice and peace?”, Dona Cida replied, “I do and my life’s work is to do my part to build peace each day.” Today, Dona Cida is the leader of a project for youth in a very poor and violent neighborhood! We celebrate her tenacity and courage.
Today we remember the many women in the regions where we serve, thank them for their example and offer this prayer:
Loving Spirit of Compassion,
We pray for the liberation of all women.
–For those who suffer from poverty and discrimination,
–For those who live with exploitation and violence.
–For those who live in fear and without hope.
We are grateful
–For women of wisdom and mercy,
–For their sacred and life-giving generosity,
–For their care for the earth and all living beings,
–For their extraordinary efforts in their families and communities.
Bless them and transform our hearts so that our presence and efforts with them may help to co-create a more just and loving world where all are equal partners.

Erik Cambier
Erik Cambier served as Maryknoll lay missioner for 25 years, in Tanzania, the United States, Venezuela and El Salvador.