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Women in Leadership debate encourages men and women to

Five prominent leaders have debated the ways gender equality can be found in leadership positions across sectors, under the dome of St Paul’s.

With an audience of nearly 1,500 women and men in attendance, St Paul’s Institute hosted one of London’s biggest women’s events of 2014, just days after the General Synod voted to allow the consecration of female bishops.


A series of stirring and poignant speeches, addressing the considerable institutional and cultural barriers preventing women from reaching positions of leadership, were given by the Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons; Liz Bingham, Managing Partner for Talent at EY; Frances O’Grady, the General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress; and Ceri Goddard, Director for Gender at the Young Foundation.

These were followed by an audience Q&A, and a moving call to action by Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty.

She said: "Gender injustice is so ingrained it goes back to the beginnings of humanity...We must tackle this injustice in our families, social circles, work places as well as our legislation.”

She encouraged the women in the audience to take every opportunity to lead, to "be a beacon, not a token."

Frances O’Grady encouraged the audience to extend "a hand up and a hand down,” to find encouragement and mentorship from elders, while supporting and educating younger women.

Watch the full video from the debate

Audience members responded enthusiastically to the event, calling it a 'memorable', 'thought provoking' and 'inspiring' evening on social media.

A networking space at the west end of the Cathedral, co-hosted by supporting organisations Women 1stNational Union of Students, CWN (City Women Network), Women’s Resource Centre and WATCH (Women and the Church) gave those in attendance a chance to join or learn more about their networks and the important work they are doing to support women in leadership positions.


Many participated in our social media campaign, which asked "what action will you take to support, promote or become women in leadership?”. Audience members were photographed holding up signs that described what they will do to promote gender equality. The social media campaign found a great reach; it was trending on Twitter in the UK, and had great contributions from Helen Grant MP, Minister for Sport Tourism and Equalities, Ruth Hunt, CEO of Stonewall, Revd Rosemary Lain Priestley, theologian and Dean of Women’s Ministry in the Two Cities area of the London Diocese, and our own Cathedral Chapter.

The Very Revd David Ison, Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral, and event co-ordinator Hannah Elias have written a reflection on the evening’s event.


St Paul’s Institute will continue to engage with this theme throughout the coming year. More information can be found at