March is the time we celebrate as a nation the work, achievements, victories, and struggles of women across this United States. As part of this observance, we celebrate our nations leaders such as Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, Ella Baker, Wilma Mankiller, Juliette Gordon Low, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Margaret Fuller, and Gloria Steinem.
The women cited here emerged at crucial points in our nations history and collective consciousness. As a product of their passion, talent, struggle, and unique perspective we as a nation have taken notable steps toward greater freedom, equality, and opportunity for all people who come to our shores and borders.
Today a newer generation has emerged to take up the ongoing struggle for equal pay, reproductive justice, marriage equality, women's health issues, economic and voter equality.
Today's leaders include Michelle Alexander and Amy Jill-Levine (authors and university professors), Rosalynn Carter (housing advocate), Mae C. Jemison and Sally Ride (current and deceased astronauts), Gabby Giffords and Megan Berry (political and civic leaders). This list is not complete. Even so, the impact and depth of commitment, discovery, and struggle of these women is evident.
There is one more leader and visionary I would like to mention. This leader has shown great courage and compassion as she worked to see her hopes and dream become a reality.
M.Hasna Maznavi is a filmmaker, writer, and graduate of U.C. Berkeley. As a Muslim American, Maznavi has witnessed first-hand the impact of fear and prejudice against her personally, and members of her community.
Inspired by her experiences, Maznavi and a group of Muslim women came together and formed the Women's Mosque of America.
Maznavi's hope was that this faith community would serve as a meeting place for women who are looking to have a positive and trans-formative experience in the context of their Muslim identity. The women's mosque serves as a venue for women's voices, community participation, leadership, and scholarship.
The mosque has been a positive presence and inter-faith beacon in the region of Southern California since January 2015. M. Hasna Maznavi is one more example of women contributing to the diversity and strength of our nation and community.
More Life to You and Joy as we continue to celebrate Women's History Month!
Rev. Mark C. Pafford