International Women's Day takes place this Wednesday, 8 March. To mark the day - the fourth annual Voices of Faith event takes place in the Vatican. The initiative was started by Catholic philanthropist Chantal Goetz, "to enhance the dignity, participation and leadership of women and girls through persistent and good storytelling." Voices of Faith is supported by the Fidel Goetz Foundation, Caritas and the Jesuit Refugee Service.
At this year's event women from all over the world are making their voices heard in the name of peace with the gathering itself entitled, "Stirring the waters: Making the impossible possible."
Marie Dennis, co-president of Pax Christi International, is one of the participants. Marie said: In response to a global epidemic of violence, which Pope Francis has labeled a world war in installments, women are bringing their experience and creativity to the challenging, long-term vocation of healing and reconciling both people and the planet."
Dr Scilla Elworthy, founder of the Oxford Research Group, and co- founder of Peace Direct, UK is also taking part, She is the author of 'Pioneering the possible: Awakened leadership for a world that works.' Speaking on Vatican Radio she said: "I think it's absolutely vital not just for women but for humanity as a whole at the moment because humanity is facing major crises that are unprecedented, that are man-made like global warming, like over population, like the rich poor gap like massive migration and we need to up our consciousness... and up to now for five thousand years we have been missing the feminine; we haven't had true equality in feminine leadership and boy do we need it now."
Dr Elworthy noted that in the world today while many conflicts are diminishing - the Middle East conflict is escalating. She observed: "I simply noticed that the Middle East is an area where women traditionally have been excluded, in some places totally excluded. She did however, observe that there are notable exceptions where women are making a real difference, such as in Rojava in Syria.
Dr Elworthy spoke about the need for women in prominent roles in the Church, adding that women have unique skills to give. She said she was very glad that the Voices of Faith discussion was taking place inside the Vatican.
Voices of Faith will be live-streamed from the Vatican from 2-5pm.
For those in London, a gathering has been organised at the University of Roehampton to watch it as a group and discuss it afterwards. All are welcome to attend for the afternoon or just to drop in for tea at: Room Howard 002, Howard Building, Digby Stuart College, University of Roehampton SW15 2-5pm
Or you can watch Voices of Faith from where you are on Wednesday, 8 March from 2-5pm UK time, here: http://voicesoffaith.org/event/