15th March 2019
The International Women’s Day Celebration, which was hosted by the Development Education Department of ADRA-UK in partnership with ADRA-UK, Adventist Community Services and Women’s Ministries Departments both under the directorship of Sharon Platt-McDonald, was, according to ADRA’s Cathy Boldeau, intended “to highlight the contribution of women in the Seventh-day Adventist Church and the wider community. Based on Sustainable Development Goal 5 (Gender Equality) as prescribed by the United Nations for humanitarian organisations, the afternoon programme was a development education initiative to inform, inspire and hopefully change attitudes and opinions regarding gender issues.”
The afternoon of Wednesday 13 March saw a large number of women and a few brave men assemble in the British Union Conference (BUC) loft at the beginning of an afternoon’s programme to encourage, value and appreciate the role of women in society as well as thanking women who had made a significant contribution to their church or local communities.
Following lunch, the tables nicely decorated for the occasion by Renatella Iunac, the Women’s Department secretary, the programme began with a brief presentation showing how male and female gender roles were established in children’s minds at an early age. A class was asked to draw a picture of a fighter pilot, a firefighter and a surgeon. Almost all drew pictures of men in those roles and were surprised when their real counterparts who turned up to meet them were women.
The day is usually celebrated on 8th March but was altered to fit the diary of the principle speaker, Chief Inspector Alicia Shaw, Hertfordshire Constabulary’s first woman from the BAME community to hold that role. She gave an inspiring account of how she joined the police service and her rise through the ranks in what was traditionally seen as a man’s world to her present role becoming a hostage negotiator in the process and finding herself being called out at all times of the day and night dealing with potential suicides. She pointed out that the Metropolitan Police Commissioner is a woman as is a Hertfordshire Constbulary Assistant Chief Constable an organisation which has five male and five female Chief Inspectors.