Call to action asks global Church to promote the contribution of women and girls


A call has gone out to the worldwide Church to do more to promote the contribution of women and girls and recognise their unique value.

The Call to All Christians highlights areas of challenge for women both inside and outside the Church, including gender inequality. 

"We were united in our conviction that gender inequality continues to be a barrier that diminishes the effective witness of the Church to the transforming power of the Gospel," the document states.

It goes on to say that the Church has "deeply hurt" many women and girls, and at times "ignored" their voices. One section recognises that violence against women has been perpetrated by people within the Church.

"We recognise that our communities and leadership structures have not always been encouraging, freeing or even safe for women and girls, who are each valued and loved by God," it says.

"We acknowledge that the pathways for women to serve as leaders in the global Church are limited, and this has prevented many from contributing to the Church in this way.

"We acknowledge that the Church has deeply hurt many women and girls, and not heard or acknowledged their pain. We acknowledge that violence, in all its forms, towards women is perpetrated not only outside the Church, but also inside."

The document was issued by 60 women leaders from 18 nations after a gathering in Amsterdam this month exploring the injustices suffered by women, while also celebrating their giftings and the many positions of service and leadership they hold in the global Church. 

The 'Rise in Strength' gathering was a joint initiative of the World Evangelical Alliance and the Lausanne Movement, and brought together Christian women leaders in the areas of business, theology, philanthropy, media and the church.

The call to action draws on the Lausanne statement on women in the Cape Town Commitment written nearly a decade ago, which states "that all of us, men and women, married and single are responsible to employ God's gifts for the benefit of others as stewards of God's grace and for the praise and glory of Christ".

"[We] are also responsible to enable all God's people to exercise all the gifts that God has given for all the areas of service to which God calls the Church," it reads.

In the run-up to the gathering, a survey of 500 women leaders by the organisers identified sexism in the church and cultural obstacles to women in leadership as two of the biggest concerns. 

Elke Werner, a leader of the Lausanne Movement for over 25 years, said, "We know this was a prophetic time. It is so important to recognise the contribution of so many women in the different nations for the kingdom of God. These women are heroes.

"But we also need to stand up for women and girls who cannot fulfil their Godgiven potential because of barriers in their church culture."

Amanda Jackson, Director of the WEA Women's Commission said, "If the Church says that women are only fit for certain roles, this can be very damaging.

"We want to acknowledge the pain when women's voices are silenced, single women are ignored, or when the Church tolerates abuse. But we also want to be positive about what we can achieve when we work together using our gifts."