On Friday 6 March over 3 million people worldwide prayed and worshipping together during an annual day of prayer, using a service prepared by Christian Women in Papua New Guinea.
In spite of gender inequality, women in Papua New Guinea are beginning to take their place in professions previously closed to them. There are now women who are pilots, engineers, doctors, lawyers, judges, lecturers and also officers in the military forces. In this way, they make a very positive contribution to their nation. Further information and resources can be found on the Women’s World Day of Prayer website at www.wwdp-natcomm.org.
The symbol chosen for this year's Women's World Day of Prayer comprises the Cross and a bilum. Bilums are hand-woven string bags, which are widely used among Papua New Guinean societies. They are very strong and used to carry everything from food to a baby (who can see out through the holes in the bag!). Sometimes a bilum is suspended on the branch of a tree and becomes a cradle for a sleeping baby. Men also use bilums to carry heavy loads. Where cultures are so diverse, this simple string bag is common to many. By placing the bilum on the cross in this symbol, the women of PNG seek a unity where they are not merely held together as though they were gathered into a string bag. They seek a vibrant unity where love is genuine, and where the many, many communities of Papua New Guinea are of one heart and soul.