Image: Some of the first women to be ordained in the Church of England in 1994, at the 25th anniversary of the ordination of women to the priesthood – Bristol Cathedral, 2019 (Diocese of Bristol Facebook page)
This International Women's Day, 8 March 2021, the Diocese of Bristol invited everyone to share their stories of women in the diocese who have inspired them, on our Facebook and Twitter pages.
It's only been six years since the first women bishops were ordained in the Church of England, and the Diocese of Bristol was the first to have women as both the Diocesan Bishop and the Dean.
What's more, the first ever group of women to be made priests in the Church of England were ordained here in the diocese, in Bristol Cathedral, on Saturday 12 March 1994.
The theme of this year's International Women's Day is #ChooseToChallenge – a challenged world is an alert world, and from challenge comes change.
One aspect of this theme is celebrating women's achievement, and the Diocese of Bristol shared the stories of women who have paved the way, who have inspired others, and who have shared God's hope through the significant challenges of the last year.
"Research shows that the gender self-esteem gap is closed if girls have a significant religious leader who is a woman – that's without any impact on boys' self-esteem," says Revd Kat Campion-Spall, Dean of Women's Ministry for the Diocese.
"It's brilliant that we've seen a better gender balance in the senior leadership in the diocese in the last couple of years, but we need to make sure we see that in our parishes and other ministries too. As church communities, we can play a vital role in encouraging girls and women and enabling them to flourish as leaders in our churches and in wider society."
Women in the Diocese of Bristol
The latest figures are as follows:
Senior clergy (Bishops, Archdeacons, Deans, Cathedral Canons): 42.9% [national figure 24.8%]
Stipendiary clergy: 29.5% [national figure 29.6%] Self-supporting clergy: 60.9% [national figure 50.9%]