It always takes place on the first Friday in March: The Women's World Day of Prayer. Gender and religious equality is particularly important to the world's largest grassroots movement of Christian women. And much more.
Interviewer: Every year there is a Women's World Day of Prayer and every year a different country is chosen to host it. This year it's all about Slovenia. Why Slovenia?
Dr. Irene Tokarski (Managing Director World Day of Prayer of Women in Germany): We meet every five years at the international level, and then the countries for the next five years are selected. This is how Slovenia was chosen a few years ago. It doesn't matter if it's a big or small country. At some point, everyone who wants to and is able to will have their turn.
Interviewer: What is being prayed for? How are women doing in Slovenia?
Tokarski: We pray for all women in the world, but we always pray together with those who propose it. The idea is to send a prayer together once around the globe on the first Friday in March, really at eye level. The theme this year is "Come, all is ready". The Slovenians have chosen the biblical text of the great banquet.
Interviewer: Exactly, it is written in the Gospel of Luke. How to interpret the invitation as a motto for the year?
Tokarski: We are convinced that it is an invitation to all people. Especially when you read the Gospel text, to those who are excluded, who are on the fences and who often do not belong. I think this is a brilliant message of the parable for all of us. The outstanding thing is that when the servants had already invited people from the street three times, they said: There is still room at the banquet. In a figurative sense: There is room for everyone. Each of us has a place.
Interviewer: The goal of the movement is equality for all. That means equality of the sexes, of denominations and of religions. You are the largest grassroots Christian ecumenical movement in the entire world with 120 countries participating. Prayer plays a big role for us as Christians, but it is sometimes not really tangible. What is the role of prayer and what is happening beyond that today?
Tokarski: It is about praying informed. For us it is always very important to get to know the country and the women. Prayerful action means that it does not remain only with pious sayings, but a very important part is our collection. In Germany, that's about 2.5 million euros a year, most of which goes to projects for women and girls around the world.
For example, we now had the urgent call for help from Burkina Faso, where 35 girls suddenly stopped coming to school. Investigations by the school have revealed that these girls were illegally circumcised and hidden somewhere in the bush. They are then saved. The whole thing is a complex ie. The parents then fled because they were afraid of being wanted by the police. Our partner organization is now taking care of these girls and their medical care, food and everything. This is what our collection is for, for example.
Interviewer: They have been organizing the Women's World Day of Prayer for over 90 years now. At present, the question of equal rights for women in the church, co-determination in administrative positions, as well as the discussion about ordained ministry, plays a very important role. What role does this play for you?
Tokarski: For us, ending abuse is the most important discussion. There is a structural ie that women are also allowed to have their say. But for us, it's about clearing this up properly, worldwide, and protecting the victims and possible future victims. This is the most important ie.
It is not primarily about women. It's about the victims. Everything we can contribute, we will of course do. We support many organizations worldwide that strive to protect children and girls.
The interview was conducted by Renardo Schlegelmilch.
Information: The Women's World Day of Prayer takes place mainly in the regions of Cologne, Dusseldorf and Mainz because of the carnival only on the 8. March instead of.