8 March 2023

International Women's Day 2023: Embracing equity

Bethany Gibson

Illustration shows four women with their arms crossed.

Bethany Gibson considers how equity is essential to fullness of life for all.

Fullness of life for all with Jesus. That’s our vision as The Salvation Army in the UK and Ireland Territory. If we are serious about seeing fullness of life for everyone, then equity is a priority.

The challenges of female leadership in modern society have made headlines in recent weeks with the resignations of New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, and Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon. Whatever you think about their politics, these women have faced hurdles and criticism not experienced by their male counterparts. Our newsfeeds remind us daily that men and women are not treated the same.

But is that the goal? That we treat everyone the same? The UN has said ‘equal opportunities aren’t enough’ and is calling people to #EmbraceEquity on International Women’s Day (8 March). To show solidarity, people are invited to strike the #EmbraceEquity pose and share a photo on social media using the hashtag. Equity acknowledges that people start from different positions and therefore need to be treated differently – that marginalised groups need different resources and opportunities to thrive and achieve the same outcomes as privileged groups.

For example, I can’t ignore the fact that I have a privileged experience of womanhood. I am a white, cisgender, heterosexual, non-disabled, British woman. International Women’s Day is not only an opportunity for men to listen to women – and play their part in advocating for and supporting them – but for women to listen to other women. So who am I listening to?

It’s rather disappointing for me to realise that the women who immediately came to mind when writing this are white. After typing ‘inspiring women’ into Google, I came across the BBC’s 100 Women 2022, a list full of experiences of womanhood that are different to my own. Dima Aktaa from Syria lost her leg when her home was bombed in 2012 – she’s now training to compete in the 2024 Paralympics. Moud Goba, from the UK, is a Zimbabwean refugee, a lesbian and a founding member of UK Black Pride. She campaigns for the appropriate support of LGBTQ+ asylum seekers and refugees. While my proactive listening needs to extend beyond a Google search, the BBC’s list has already inspired me to follow new people on social media.

In Scripture, we read that equity isn’t just about individuals thriving. The body of Christ (see 1 Corinthians 12:12–31) is made up of individual parts that are different yet interdependent. When one suffers, all suffer; when one thrives, all thrive. Equity is good news for everyone – all gender identities.

I can see this in my marriage. Thanks to those who have gone before me, who have fought for women’s rights, I am liberated to be the woman and wife I am called to be. I am not confined to a stereotype. This in turn liberates my husband, Alex, to be the man and husband he is called to be. We can have open and honest conversations – for example, about household tasks, careers or parenthood – that might have been a lot harder for our parents or grandparents.

This International Women’s Day I’m reminded that it’s not enough to settle for fullness of life with Jesus for the Bethany’s, Jacinda’s and Nicola’s of this world – our vision must embrace the whosoever.

Reflect and respond

Written by

Bethany Gibson

Bethany Gibson

Online Content Editor

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