March 8 is International Women’s Day, a day that has been celebrated since 1911. Since then, activists have strived to find equality between men and women — and are still working.

This year’s theme in the United States is #EmbraceEquity, per the International Women’s Day website. It emphasizes the difference between equality and equity, and the need for equity rather than equality.

Equality means each individual or group of people is given the same resources or opportunities,” said the website. “Equity recognizes that each person has different circumstances, and allocates the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome.”

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To celebrate this International Women’s Day, here are three leaders of faith who have advocated for women’s equity and commended women for their strength.

Pope Francis

Within the Catholic Church, women’s roles have been expanded, including allowing female lay members to read verses in Mass since 2021, per The Vatican News.

In November 2022, Pope Francis told Reuters, “Women are a gift. God did not create man and then give him a lapdog to play with. He created both equal, man and woman.”

He added, “A society that is not capable of (allowing women to have greater roles) does not move forward.”

President Russell M. Nelson

In April 2022 at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ biannual conference, President Russell M. Nelson said that women have an innate “inner sense of spirituality,” per the Church News.

“The kingdom of God is not and cannot be complete without women who make sacred covenants and then keep them,” said President Nelson, “women who can speak with the power and authority of God!”

Many other female leaders of the church have openly advocated for more opportunities for women, too, such as Sister Jean Bingham, former Relief Society general president, per The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The Dalai Lama

USA Today published an opinion piece in 2018 written by the Dalai Lama about the special role women can play in what he called the “Compassionate Revolution that this century so desperately needs.” He said that women are empathetic and compassionate, which is “genuine strength.”

He called women “models of humanity,” referring to women that have impacted his life.

“I have had the honor of meeting women leaders from all walks of life,” he said, “and I encourage you, young women, to take an active role in the political and economic life of your country so that you will be in key positions to forge ahead with the transformation that compassion can bring.” 

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