Today is International Women’s Day, a day dedicated to promoting gender equality and celebrating the incredible contributions of women. Although the holiday was established in 1911, with the rise of social media and the support of the UN, International Women’s Day has risen to a high level of prominence in recent years. In fact, as an extension of the holiday, the entire month of March was established as Women’s History Month in 2011.
Today, we wanted to explore some bold and powerful female Christian leaders who are working tirelessly to promote more equality for the disenfranchised. Here’s a list of some of the most inspiring women of faith that we know!
Christine Caine | A21 Founder
A21 is a globally recognized anti-human trafficking organization working to raise awareness, rehabilitate survivors and pursue legal justice. The organization was founded in 2008 by Christine and Nick Caine. Christine hails from Australia and is a beloved international speaker. A21 makes the issue of trafficking incredibly accessible, especially with their annual global Walk For Freedom event, a modern-day abolitionist gathering in over 450 cities.
Judge Shelia Calloway | Judge & Restorative Justice Advocate
Judge Shelia Calloway stays busy working as both Nashville’s Juvenile Court Judge and also as a Law Professor at Vanderbilt University. Working within the legal system since 1994, Calloway has had ample exposure to both the heartache of injustice as well as the transformative power of forgiveness. As an advocate of Restorative Justice, Calloway argues that the act of forgiveness often brings more peace to victims than to the criminal perpetrators. The American criminal justice system is in desperate need of reform, especially within the juvenile courts, and Judge Calloway proves to be a thoughtful and compassionate voice of reason.
Harmony Dust Grillo | Treasures Founder & Executive Director
Treasures is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping women working in the sex industry. Harmony Dust Grillo, is intimately familiar with the destructive nature of sex work, including legal employment at strip clubs, escort services and within pornography. At a young age, Grillo was trafficked into strip clubs by her boyfriend acting as her pimp. It was a long journey before she was able to escape the commercial sex industry’s grip and eventually earn her Master’s in Social Work from UCLA. Today, Treasures helps to serve the needs of women seeking to leave the commercial sex industry, while also raising awareness about the insidious ways sex trafficking hides in plain sight here in the USA.
Viktoria Harrison | charity: water Co-Founder & VP of Creative
Viktoria Harrison’s diligence and dedication proved incredibly instrumental in establishing the life-saving work of charity: water, bringing clean drinking water to communities around the world. The nonprofit’s explosive growth was catapulted by the organization’s unrelenting commitment to tell their story in a breathtakingly beautiful way. Harrison never lost sight of the importance of beautiful marketing; asserting that the international development sector deserved world-class design. Due to her dedication, charity: water is now one of the most followed and recognized philanthropic brands in the world.
Blythe Hill | Dressember CEO & Founder
Every December, Dressember welcomes advocates to don a dress or tie daily as a means to raise awareness about the issue of human trafficking. To date, Dressember has raised over $7 million and has been endorsed by massive celebrities, but it began first with a humble #dressember hashtag. As founder Blythe Hill explains, “as a fashion blogger who was a sucker for a good pun, I initially created Dressember as a personal style challenge simply because I wanted to try wearing dresses for a month. Imagine my surprise when my friends and then their friends and then total strangers started participating as well! I realized hey, this is a good idea! I started dreaming of what more it could become; adding a heart to it.”
Rev. Jacqui Lewis PhD | Middle Collegiate Church Senior Minister
Rev. Jacqui Lewis PhD leads 1,000 members in regular worship as Senior Minister of Middle Collegiate Church in New York. The church, running since 1628, is the oldest continuous Protestant church in North America. For Lewis, faith and social justice are intricately intertwined. Lewis recalls hiding under her bed in Chicago at the age of 8 to avoid flying bullets following the assignation of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and in that moment feeling called to dedicate her life to support racial equality. On a national level, the world has taken notice. She’s been covered in major press outlets like the Washington Post, New York Times, Ebony, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS and more.
Cassandra Lee | Justice Rising Co-Founder & Executive Director
Justice Rising is eager to support communities caught in war zones, and the organization believes that the key to peace lies within education. In fact, a community’s conflict risk can be cut in half if local secondary school enrollment can be increased from 30% up to 60%. Cassandra Lee established Justice Rising in partnership with her husband Edison. Together, they are supporting the education of nearly 2,000 students in war zones in Eastern Congo, Iraq and Syria.
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We never meant to start a non-profit. We wanted to transform war zones and knew education is a huge key to doing that. We traveled deep into war torn areas in the Congo and started with one school, then another and another. . At 3 schools we realized that this was something really special. Now 10 schools in and expanding to Iraq and Syria, it’s crazy to be with our students and see how our schools are impacting their lives post conflict. . Tomorrow is #GivingTuesday and our goal is to raise $20,000 in ONE day. All the funds raised will go to continuing our expansion and building more schools in war zones. We’re calling on our global community who will join us as we continue on this crazy journey! . #whenbuildingschoolsinwarzones #justicerising #community #nonprofit #peacebuilding #educationchangeseverything
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Jenny Yang | Author and World Relief SVP of Advocacy & Policy
Jenny Yang has thoughtfully and articulately been advocating for refugees and immigrants for years now. As the co-author of Welcoming the Stranger and advocacy expert for World Relief, Yang has become a powerful thought-leader on a topic that can be emotional and divisive. In fact, her leadership is so compelling that Christianity Today named her one of “5 Female Change Leaders.” Yang regularly reminds us of Christ’s love for the outcast and offers practical ways we can support people who are impacted by immigration.
Shannon Sedgwick Davis | Bridgeway Foundation CEO
Shannon Sedgwick Davis is an attorney who began her career at International Justice Mission. As she worked internationally to support victims of human rights atrocities, Davis became passionate about supporting Central African communities impacted by violence perpetrated by Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army. As CEO of the Bridgeway Foundation, Davis works to proactively establish resources to help communities prosper without fear of genocide.
What women in your life inspire you? Take a moment today to honor the women who are compassionate and fierce in the way they love.