9 March 2024

International Women’s Day 2024: Inspire inclusion!

Captain Lizette Williams

An illustration of five women of different ethnicities - one is playing a drum and sitting in a wheelchair, another is waving a Salvation Army flag two are dancing and another is kicking a football
Illustration: Clair Rossiter

Captain Lizette Williams reflects on International Women’s Day 2024.

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is Inspire Inclusion. But what does it mean to inspire inclusion? The International Women’s Day website states: ‘In 2024, the campaign theme Inspire Inclusion emphasises the importance of diversity and empowerment in all aspects of society.’

There has been much work done to ensure that women around the world are treated equally and given the same opportunities as men. However, there is still much work to be done. How can we create a safe environment in our Church where women are empowered and included?

I find the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman (see John 4:1–42) so powerful when we think of inclusion. The conversation between them begins with a simple question from Jesus: ‘Will you give me a drink?’ (v7). Her response initiates a dialogue that culminates in her believing in Jesus as the Messiah foretold long ago. Thanks to her testimony, the people from her village are saved.

The remarkable aspect of this story for me is how Jesus intentionally chooses to go through Samaria to get to Galilee. He intentionally chooses to engage in a conversation with this woman and, by doing so, he breaks barriers of gender, race, religion and morals. Their conversation is engaging; they both take the time to speak and listen.

Just like Jesus, we need to be intentional about making sure we take time to listen. We need to be intentional about asking the questions: whose voices are we missing? Who have we not heard from? How do we hear from those voices? How do we empower those voices to speak? Additionally, we need to be prepared to break barriers that prevent women from being part of the Church, barriers that inhibit them from discussing important subjects that might be considered taboo by the Church.

During a forum in 2018, Meghan Markle said something that stayed with me, and I often quote it to myself: ‘Women don’t need to find a voice, they have a voice, and they need to feel empowered to use it, and people need to be encouraged to listen.’

As a black African British woman, this resonated with me. I grew up in a culture where women are generally considered inferior to men, both in family and public life. Consequently, I learnt to keep my voice quiet and my opinions to myself. I am fortunate and blessed to be married to Paul, a white British man, who understands his position of power as a white man and uses it to empower me. He encourages me to use my voice not only within our family but also in our shared ministry. Moreover, he goes beyond this by encouraging others to listen to my voice and my story.

I wonder, as we celebrate International Women’s Day 2024: how can you be a person who inspires inclusion?

Reflect and respond

  • Following in Jesus’ example, how intentional are you about listening to others?
  • Have you ever asked yourself how loud your voice is?
  • Are you a person in a position of power? If you are, how can you empower others to use their voices?

Written by

A photo of Lizette Williams.

Captain Lizette Williams

Corps Officer, Felixstowe

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