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This Christmas, the most precious thing we can give is Hope

by Michael Ford last modified 05 Dec, 2019 06:11 PM

'Help give women around the world the gift of new life this Christmas', says Bishop Karen.

Launching Christian Aid's Christmas campaign, Bishop Karen has shared how her experience on an East Hull housing estate helped her find the strength to become one of the first pioneering women bishops, as she urges others this Christmas to help women around the world reach their potential.

The Bishop of Sherborne said that being confronted with the issues that women in particular faced, and the conversations she had with them in her mid-twenties, helped spur her on to break cultural norms and become part of a ground-breaking generation of Church of England women bishops.

She was speaking as she encouraged support for Christian Aid’s Christmas Appeal, which this year is highlighting how gifts and actions can help women tackle prejudice, oppression and discrimination globally.

Bishop Karen said:

"The statistics about unfulfilled lives for women across so many cultures are sobering, but at Christmas we celebrate the courage and determination of Mary and are reminded of our opportunity to help more women thrive and not just survive.

"As we think about the gifts we can give this Christmas, perhaps the most precious thing we can give is hope – that might come as a word of encouragement or a space to be heard, or perhaps it is a financial gift to a charity such as Christian Aid, empowering women and their families across the world."

Christian Aid is highlighting how whole families can thrive if mothers are given the opportunity to discover their voice and inherent gifts.

Mothers, such as Ranjita (30) from Rajasthan, India, who cleaned latrines and sewers by hand from the age of 9 – but with the help of a Christian Aid-funded self-help group, discovered she was entitled to a government compensation grant and help to find a dignified occupation. She is now earning a living as a tailor and able to send her daughter to school.

Bishop Karen said:

“I know what it meant and means to me to receive support and advice from those around me who didn’t see the barriers in my way that others saw. For women such as Ranjita a gift not only changed her life but helped break the generational cycle of poverty, allowing her and her daughter to see themselves differently.

“This Christmas, please do think of the women close to you – your mother, daughter, grandmother, sister, or friend – as well as those far away by supporting the Christmas Appeal, and freeing them to meet their potential so more people can experience life in all its fullness.”

Last Christmas, churches across Dorset raised £6,500 for Christian Aid. Events in support of the appeal this year include Christmas Eve carol singing from 9.30-10.30am outside Barclays bank on South Street, Dorchester.

One in 3 women globally experiences gender-based violence in her lifetime. Approximately one third of married women in developing countries report having little or no say over their own healthcare, and more than 2.6 billion live in countries where rape within marriage is not considered a crime.

Research shows that more money in women’s hands contributes not only to eliminating poverty but also to better education, nutrition and health outcomes for children and other members of the household.

Click here to find out more about the Christmas Appeal or to donate. In India, £5 could buy a set of clothes for school and £19 could provide a woman with skills training, like tailoring, to enable her to set up a business.

There is more information about Christian Aid in the South West on Facebook and Twitter.

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