By Whitney Thurman, Darcy Hamre, and Terri Purdy
The Women’s March on Washington is taking place on Saturday, January 21st, and sister marches are happening in cities across the country on that same day. As United Methodist Women, we will be proud to march alongside thousands of other women, men, and children in the Women’s March on Austin to stand together in unity with diverse communities from across the state. As we prepare to join with thousands of others in the Women’s March on Austin, we also pause to remember the life and teachings of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. On March 8, 1965, he delivered a speech in Selma, Alabama, during which he proclaimed:
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
Some of things that matter to us are the significant barriers facing women on their uphill climb towards equity. Many people equate women’s rights with reproductive health care; we agree that access to health care is an important cornerstone in all women’s lives. However, we will march on Saturday to honor MLK’s call to take a stand for that which is true and to remind us all that women’s rights go far beyond health care, and in almost every aspect of life, women continue to lag behind their male peers.
For example, Texas women of color earn just 87 cents to the white man’s dollar, and nationally, all women over age 65 earn just 72 cents to the white man’s dollar. In Texas, 42% of single-parent households headed by mothers are in poverty compared with 29% headed by fathers. In 2014, the maternal mortality rate in Texas was 35.8 per 100,000 live births—a rate that is the highest in the United States and the highest in the developed world. And in 2015, 158 Texas women were killed in domestic violence incidents. These are just a few of many statistics that underscore the importance of heeding another of MLK’s rallying cries that
“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells him it is right.”
For us, however, it is not just our conscience, but also our faith that compels us to take a stand. The United Methodist Social Creed reminds us that taking an active stance in society is nothing new for followers of John Wesley. He set the example for us to combine personal and social piety. The United Methodist Church has long been known as a denomination involved with people’s lives and with political and social struggles. Wesley viewed this involvement as an expression of the personal change we experience in our baptism and conversion. The Social Creed goes on to remind us that the United Methodist Church believes God’s love for the world is an active and engaged love, a love seeking justice and liberty and admonishes us that we cannot just be observers.
As United Methodists, our Social Creed encourages us to care enough about people’s lives to risk interpreting God’s love, to take a stand, to call each of us into a response, no matter how controversial or complex. We agree that the issues facing Texas women are complex, but we do not believe them to be controversial.
For more information on the church’s social creed, please visit http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/social-principles-social-creed
For more information on the United Methodist Women, please visit http://www.unitedmethodistwomen.org/service-advocacy
For more statistics regarding gender disparities in the United States, please visit http://statusofwomendata.org
For more statistics regarding domestic violence in Texas, please visit http://tcfv.org/resource-center/learn-the-facts/
For more information about issues affecting women’s health in Texas, please visit