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Inspiring a gender-equal world



BY KEZIAH BOWER*

 

Since 1911, International Women’s Day has celebrated the achievements of women all over the world.

 

The day, held annually on 8 March, provides an opportunity to acknowledge that women equally have a right to be recognised for who they are, and what they bring to the world.

 

Each year, the day promotes a call to action to drive equality for women, and this year, that call is to #InspireInclusion. This means to openly welcome and encourage the diversity of women of all backgrounds, ages and abilities.

 

The impact

Throughout history, the world has not always acknowledged the incredible impact and contributions that many women have made to society. We often recognise and remember those, at times to the exclusion of women.

 

In Australia, gender inequity has a signif­icant impact on individuals and greater society. Gender inequity is the great­est driver of violence against women, contributes to Australian women retiring with on average 40 per cent less superannuation than men, and leads to Australia’s gender pay gap.

 

A biblical concept

Gender equity is a biblical concept. The Bible teaches that all people, regardless of their gender, are made in the image of God, and that everyone is valued equally by him and that there is no hier­archy in this value.

 

“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 chapter 3, verse 28.

 

Throughout the Bible we see many powerful examples of God working through both men and women, despite the world not always seeing or including them as God does.

 

Gender equity and the Salvos

As Salvos, we have valued women and their contribution from our beginnings. Catherine Booth, co-founder of The Salvation Army was a strong advocate for equality between men and women. “Catherine Booth … opened the door into female ministry for … Salvationists of the coming generations. She gave them the right to preach, to break the Bread of Life to hungry souls, and to be servants of all for Christ’s sake.” (Larsson, F. (1974). My Best Men are Women. Salvation Army Publishing.)

 

This equality and inclusion of women resulted in women being considered some of the most influential people of the early days of The Salvation Army. of the early days of The Salvation Army.

 

What can be done?

The Salvation Army’s Policy and Advocacy team #InspireInclusion by challenging and advocating to change the systemic and structural barriers that impact a woman’s ability to participate and thrive. We work to influence decision-makers and those in positions of power to implement changes that work towards the inclusion of women and ultimately gender equity – such as increased education and support for family and domestic violence services, more affordable and accessible childcare to support equal access to the workforce, and solutions to lessen both the superannuation and gender pay gaps.

 

Each one of us can use our influence to inspire the inclusion of women and chal­lenge gender inequity. This could look like asking “Why not?” when women are not present or included, and calling out gender stereotypes, discrimination and biases which suggest that women are of less value than men.

 

We all know great women who have had, and who continue to have a signif­icant impact on our lives. Perhaps you could challenge yourself to learn more about a woman whose contribution has not been recognised and share what you’ve learned with someone.

 

This International Women’s Day, we urge you to consider how you can #InspireInclusion as an individual and celebrate the women in your world.

 

*Keziah is a policy and advocacy advisor for The Salvation Army’s Policy and Advocacy team

 

Go to the MySalvos toolkit here for International Women’s Day resources




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