This week, leading up to International Women's Day (March 8th), we will be highlighting different #TirzahWomen. These are women in our program, women in history, women in our leadership roles, and women in current culture who exemplify the necessity of raising up strong women leaders around the globe.
Sojourner Truth, neé Isabella Baumfree, was born into slavery circa 1797. In 1826, Sojourner escaped with her daughter Sophia. She later sued slave-owners for custody of her son Peter, who had been sold illegally, and won the case - a monumental triumph. Sojourner Truth is the first black woman to have successfully challenged a white man in the US Court. This was only the beginning of her pursuit of the rights that "freedom" had not granted her. Sojourner Truth is one of the most significant abolitionists and advocates of women's rights. She fought for abolition of slavery in all forms and in all places; she pursued equality for women in a patriarchal society.
Known for her pithy speaking, one of Truth's best known speeches was delivered extemporaneously in Ohio at a women's rights convention in 1851. Though the speech has been colloquially titled "Ain't I A Woman?" it is unlikely that Sojourner Truth, whose first language was Dutch, would have spoken in Southern idioms. Still, the power of the later paraphrased speech remains. Sojourner first sets men and women on an equal playing field, with equal capabilities:
"I have plowed and reaped and husked and chopped and mowed, and can any man do more than that? I have heard much about the sexes being equal. I can carry as much as any man, and can eat as much too, if I can get it. I am as strong as any man that is now."
Then, she takes a clever angle, as she knows many of her opponents were wrongly using Biblical texts as justification for their treatment of women:
"I can't read, but I can hear. I have heard the Bible and have learned that Eve caused man to sin. Well, if woman upset the world, do give her a chance to set it right side up again...And how came Jesus into the world? Through God who created him and the woman who bore him. Man, where was your part? But the women are coming up - blessed by God! - and a few of the men are coming up with them."
It seems to be this last sentence that is the most powerful - the rise of women does not mean the fall of men. Certainly if we have learned anything from empowerment of women, it is that when women are allowed to use their God-given talents, their business smarts, their crafts, their intelligence, their discernment, their skills, it benefits all of society, from the individual to the community.
This is at the heart of Tirzah International. We believe that women and men are equally valuable to God and that he wants to equip them and use them to bring his kingdom on earth in meaningful, powerful, and diverse ways. We believe that the world will only continue to benefit from equipping strong women leaders and we know that men and women working together is how this happens.
Will you join us?