International Women’s Day, March 8, is a time to celebrate what has been accomplished by and for women. There is much to celebrate!

This month also marks the arrival of Easter, March 27, when we celebrate the good news that God so loved women that he sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to pay for their sins on the cross and give them life everlasting. While on Earth, Jesus went against the customs of the times that treated women as inferior. Jesus made it a priority to speak to women, touch them, and be touched by them. Women were not excluded from his list of friends, helpers, and students. He treated women with dignity and respect when others wanted him to condemn and ignore them. Jesus understood their every need, emotion, and longing. He came to offer women the gift of salvation and to give them “life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). Jesus then calls women as well as men to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19).

And in 2016 there is more good news for women. God is raising up a generation that cares passionately about justice. Today, many are striving to end domestic violence, rape, slavery, and human trafficking. Many are working toward providing clean water to deprived communities. More medical teams are treating women who are suffering from female genital cutting, fistula, and lack of care during pregnancy and delivery. Infant and mother mortality rates are dropping. In some countries, the numbers of abortions are drastically declining. Many parents are sending their girls to school, even up to the university level, resulting in fewer child marriages.

Let’s continue to pray and celebrate God’s love. Let’s also celebrate that people around the world are speaking up and defending women and girls and helping them prosper.