Queen’s Award participants Hayley Flint, from 4th Lincoln, and Ashleigh Harris-Jones, from 21st Castleford, attended the Sophia Network launch of its Minding the Gap research in the House of Lords along with other GB leaders including GBM Director Jules Murdy and GB International President Vivienne Aitchison last Thursday - International Women's Day.
The Minding the Gap report found that 62% of women have experienced sexism in the UK Church. The report surveyed more than 1,200 women (including GB members) about their experiences within church communities in order to paint a comprehensive picture of what it's like to be a woman in the Church in the UK and Ireland. The Sophia Network is now encouraging churches to sign up to its 'Minding the Gap Manifesto' - 8 commitments to making their congregations places of gender equality. You can read more here.
Dr Claire Rush, GB’s Advocacy Co-ordinator who is also vice-chair of the Sophia Network, says ‘It's heartbreaking to see that the Church, which should be a liberating and hope-filled community, remains a place in which some women are experiencing sexism. Our hope and prayer is that leaders will take up the challenge posed by our research to make their churches spaces in which girls and women can flourish by being released into their God-given giftings, becoming all that they've been created to be.’
After the Sophia Network launch, friend of GB Baroness Richardson of Calow OBE (the first female President of the Methodist Church) surprised the GB team with a private tour of the House of Lords and the Commons. Highlights included seeing the cupboard that suffragette Emily Davison hid in overnight during the 1911 Census and the New Dawn art installation celebrating 100 years of women’s suffrage.
Hayley said ‘Did that really just happen? There were so many highlights including being at the Minding the Gap research project and reading the manifesto together. There was a great feeling of hope, unity and strength as the event concluded.’
After the parliamentary launch, the team (along with trustee Amelia Heaford) represented GB at a reception at London City Hall celebrating inspirational women including Olympian Asha Philip and Dany Cotton, the first female commissioner of the London Fire Brigade.
Ashleigh shares ‘GB has helped me develop my confidence to be able to meet new people. I certainly wouldn’t have travelled to London on my own to celebrate International Women’s Day without GB. It's given me the courage to try new things. I never knew that I would be this close to God as I am now.’
Did you do anything to celebrate International Women’s Day in your GB group? Send any of your stories and photos to us.
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Today is the UN’s International Women's Day (IWD); a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women - while also marking a call to action for accelerating gender balance. For Girls' Brigade, it's a day to celebrate how God has used GB to transform the lives of six generations of girls and women across the world.