International Women's Day marks progress

 To mark International Women’s Day Revd Dr Hayley Matthews, Director of Lay Training, reflects on more than a century of change.

 “International Women’s Day first took place in March 1911 and the worldwide progress achieved by women continues - and has been particularly highlighted within the last year.

 “#PressforProgress comes hot on the heels of the #metoo campaign, which saw women liberated from silencing behaviours that still undermine so many women today. 

 “Meanwhile in global politics, Angela Merkle’s extraordinary fourth term as the political leader of Germany has just begun, whilst Theresa May leads the country through some of the choppiest waters since Churchill took over the disarrayed government of 1940.  

 “Closer to home, the Diocese of Leeds, welcomed The Right Revd Helen-Ann Hartley as Bishop of Ripon, returning from her international ministry in New Zealand.
 “And in London, former Chief Nursing Officer Sarah Mullally was installed as the capital’s bishop.

 “Internationally there is still much to do since Malala Yousafzai was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize aged just 17 for speaking up for a young girl’s right to be educated in Pakistan.

 “But positively, 18 African countries have now outlawed female genital mutilation and addressing different forms of abuse - Hollywood has chucked out the casting couch.

“Jesus had an extraordinary relationship with the women He encountered. 

“For a start, He knew their names. He challenged the way they were discarded when a man tired of them, speaking out for those who were used and abused through the systems of a patriarchal society. 

“He chose to enter into this world through a woman’s ‘yes’, and her body, birthing all that there is, and was, and ever will be in human form.

“No, we are not there yet; there are inequalities still to balance, the vulnerable to protect and new ways of experiencing gender that do not denigrate anyone.

“Let us draw us together as co-creators of a future in which, ‘There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus’ (Galatians 3:28).

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