The Church of England's first female diocesan Bishop, the Bishop of Gloucester, Rachel Treweek, has marked International Women’s Day with an event to promote gender equality. The gathering, at Britain’s Upper Chamber of parliament, the House of Lords, was hosted by Bishop Rachel in partnership with Christian Aid and Restored - an international Christian alliance working to transform relationships and end violence against women.
The event gave guests and parliamentarians a deeper insight into faith leaders’ commitment to secure a more gender inclusive world and aimed to inspire each person to engage actively with this issue.
Bishop Rachel said, “I hope that every person who attended our event was challenged to take action in ways that will help transform the lives of women around the world. For me as a follower of Jesus Christ, my motivation to do this is to see every woman flourish and become the person that God has created them to be.”
Muzoon Almellehan, an 18-year-old Syrian refugee spoke for the Malala Fund about the importance of prioritising girls’ education. She said: “While I was in the refugee camp in Syria, I went from tent to tent to tell parents that [their daughters] needed teachers, not husbands.” She called on the UK government to increase support for education, especially for female refugees.
Loretta Minghella, Christian Aid’s Chief Executive said: “Two thirds of the world’s extreme poor are women and girls. Poverty has a woman’s face. Christian Aid was delighted to partner with Bishop Rachel and with Restored, as together we seek to mobilise the faith community to challenge and change the discriminatory beliefs that lie at the root of gender inequality. Our voices have the power to transform people’s experience of gender – especially for women and girls living in poverty – and to ensure they are shaped not by oppression, but by justice, dignity and hope."
Mandy Marshall, Co-Director of Restored said, “30% of women worldwide experience violence from their partner. Faith based organisations have great reach and influence at both national and local level in millions of communities across the globe. With the right support, we believe they have the potential to challenge the injustice of gender inequality and hasten the end of violence against women.”
Revd Terrie Robinson, Anglican Director for Women in Church and Society and Co-Chair of Side by Side, a global movement of people of faith who want to see gender justice become a reality, said: “Faith leaders are a permanent part of every community. People still listen to faith leaders, so they are in a very strong position to be challenging cultural practices.”