For International Women's Day, read about 9 women who have inspired and shaped these Church leaders

International Women’s Day is celebrated worldwide annually on March 8 and has been observed since 1911. It is “a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality,” according to

This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is #BreakTheBias. People all over the world are encouraged to call out and break gender bias, discrimination and stereotyping in order to create a more diverse, equitable and inclusive world.

In observance of this day, each member of the Relief Society, Young Women and Primary general presidencies published Tuesday morning on social media stories about women who inspire them.

Relief Society General President Jean B. Bingham

President Bingham shared the story of Julia Mavimbela, a woman from South Africa who is an example of love, turning away from hatred, forgiveness and reaching out to others.

When she was a 37-year-old pregnant schoolteacher and mother of four, Mavimbela’s husband, John, was killed in a car accident when a white male driver veered into his lane. The white police officers lied and the courts put John at fault for the accident. “Julia became bitter and angry at the unjust treatment,” President Bingham wrote.

Twenty years later and with her town embroiled in a battle against apartheid, Julia Mavimbela still felt the pain from her husband’s death. To encourage healing, she created a community garden, telling children: “Let us dig the soil of bitterness, throw in a seed of love, and see what fruits it can give us. … Love will not come without forgiving others.”

Mavimbela later co-founded Women for Peace and met Church missionaries at a service project. “She was thrilled to learn about the plan of salvation and that she could be united with her husband forever,” President Bingham wrote.

“Julia’s example demonstrates that the effort to forgive provides an increase of personal peace and happiness for ourselves and those around us.”

Sister Sharon Eubank

When Sister Eubank, first counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, was a little girl, her grandmother Velaine Flint used to dab a little translucent face powder on her nose. Now the smell brings back memories. Married during the Great Depression, she and her husband raised their sons during World War II without much money.

In a social media post, Sister Eubank shared four truths that she learned from her grandmother:

  • The gospel of Jesus Christ is the best treasure you can have.
  • Family is priority.
  • Relief Society is comfort and joy.
  • You can only influence people if you love them.

Sister Eubank wrote: “Her influence has grown more powerful in my life over the 42 years since she has been gone. She is a matriarch in every sense of the word. The women in our personal circles play outsized roles because they love us in outsized ways. We are the matriarchs of future generations. I can’t wait to see her again, and I hope she still uses face powder in that other world!”

Sister Reyna I. Aburto

During a daily commute to the office on the train two years ago, Sister Aburto, second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, struck up a conversation with Tia. They have been friends ever since.

Sister Aburto wrote that Tia has been a positive influence in her life and lifts her soul every time Tia texts her inspirational messages and asks thought-provoking questions.

“Sometimes we may think we don’t have anything in common with other people, but if we step out of our comfort zones to make a new friend, we realize that we are more similar than different,” Sister Aburto wrote. 

Tia “is one of many women in my life who inspire me to be more like Jesus Christ.”

Young Women General President Bonnie H. Cordon

When President Cordon was a young mother, she found it difficult to attend the temple with “babies crawling, toddlers running and a husband who not only traveled but was also in the bishopric,” she wrote in a social media post.

One day, she received a phone call from Valynn Price, who invited her to attend the temple at 10 a.m. the next day. When President Cordon turned her down due to having to juggle three young children who couldn’t be left home alone, Price invited her to join her on any other of her weekly temple trips.

President Cordon realized that Price attended the temple each week despite having children herself, and the thought kept piercing her mind. “Maybe I could make it more of a priority,” she wrote.

She described it as “a holy invitation [that] was a catalyst for change.”

Soon, President Cordon found herself making time to attend the temple more regularly, although never with Price during her weekly temple trip. “The temple has changed me from the inside out, and it was all because of an outside phone call in — from Valynn to me.”

Sister Michelle D. Craig

“She walked not in the borrowed light of others but faced the morning unafraid,” President Joseph F. Smith once said of Eliza R. Snow.

“I want to be like Eliza,” Sister Craig, first counselor in the Young Women general presidency, wrote in a social media post.

She has met many modern-day Elizas as she has traveled around the world or stood in line at a grocery store. “Women who are brave and good,” Sister Craig wrote. “Women who make and keep covenants. Women who trust God and trust His timing.”

These “ordinary, but very extraordinary, modern-day Elizas” have responded to President Russell M. Nelson’s plea in the October 2015 general conference: “We need women who know how to make important things happen by their faith and who are courageous defenders of morality in a sin-sick world.”

“God needs women and so do we,” Sister Craig wrote.

Sister Rebecca L. Craven

Sister Craven, second counselor in the Young Women general presidency, wrote about her great-grandmother Margaret “Maggie” Schagle Wills. Even though Wills died when Sister Craven was 9 years old, she has felt more of a connection to her as she’s learned more about her life.

Maggie was an immigrant, a cook, a woman of faith and quite short, Sister Craven wrote, noting that she and other women in her family inherited their lack of height.

“Because of her goodness and sweet personality, one of our granddaughters was given her name, Maggie,” she wrote in the post.

“I am grateful for strong, God-fearing and God-loving women like great-grandma Maggie. I want to be more like her,” Sister Craven wrote.

Primary General President Camille N. Johnson

President Johnson met Renee Arteaga nearly 30 years ago, shortly after Sister Arteaga immigrated to the United States from Peru. In a social media post, President Johnson wrote that Sister Arteaga has shared her burdens, rejoiced with her in times of gladness, and mourned with her and comforted her.

“Renee stands as a witness of Jesus Christ — in Peru as a convert teenager called to serve in the Primary presidency; as a missionary in Lima, Peru; as an assistant to the matron of the Lima [Peru] Temple; and presently as a member of the Primary general advisory council,” President Johnson wrote.

“She is a covenant-keeping disciple of Jesus Christ. Her goodness is a blessing in my life.”

Sister Susan H. Porter

Sister Porter, first counselor in the Primary general presidency, met Irina while she served as the executive assistant to the Europe East Area presidency, and the two have remained close since.

She is constantly involved in serving others, Sister Porter wrote in her social media post. Some of Irina’s recent projects include helping to meet the basic needs of orphans and teach them about the dangers of addictive substances, cheering up children and others with cancer, and supporting women who have suffered domestic abuse.

“I was able to participate in some service projects she organized, and I loved witnessing the pure love of Christ shine through Irina to others,” Sister Porter wrote. “Irena is a selfless and strong woman of faith. I honor her and all women who love others as Jesus Christ would.”

Sister Amy A. Wright

Solvej, although not a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, consistently fed the missionaries serving in her area in Denmark. Sister Wright, second counselor in the Primary general presidency, wrote in a social media post that her son was one of those missionaries.

“She ministered to him in such a tender and intentional way that my mother heart immediately fell in love with her mother heart,” she wrote.

Sister Wright met Solvej in person in Copenhagen, Denmark, a few years ago and was able to wrap her arms around her and thank her for her many acts of kindness. Solvej told her that she tries to “build a longer table and not a higher fence.”

In her post, Sister Wright wrote, “Solvej inspires me to be more like Jesus Christ by loving and serving all people.”

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