Strengthening and amplifying the voices of Salvationist women and girls
by Major Katherine Clausell
Throughout its history The Salvation Army consistently has provided a platform for women and girls to lead in ministries and social programs. However, it can be daunting for Salvationists to be champions of justice, particularly gender justice, as some of the 132 countries where The Salvation Army serves have policies and practices that exclude women and girls from leadership and decision-making roles.
Believing the voices of women and girls are critical to addressing many social issues that negatively impact society, the International Social Justice Commission launched an initiative in the fall of 2021 called The International Social Justice Girls Group (ISJG). It arose out of the significant engagement of Salvationist girls in the 2020 International Day of the Girl observance during which interest in further development of advocacy was expressed.
The initiative has opened the door for girls, ages 14 to 25, to learn and develop as advocates for women and girls. The ISJG was created for the purpose of empowering, encouraging and educating women and girls in The Salvation Army from around the globe. More than 40 girls applied, and 25 were selected. They represent 15 countries and 10 languages. The girls are encouraged and strengthened to use their voices at the grassroots both in their local context and globally.
Grace Washburn (Norridge Citadel, Ill., Corps soldier) and Magnolia Clayton (Indianapolis, Ind., Eagle Creek Corps soldier) were chosen to represent the Central Territory. Participation in the International Social Justice Girls Group provides an opportunity for them to take on leadership in the group for approximately a year. Based on their expressed interests and familiarity with the United Nation’s 17 Strategic Development Goals (SDGs), each member has been assigned to a small group, where they can connect with other girls, share what they know about specific topics and use their gifts to speak into these issues.
Both Grace and Magnolia, along with two other Salvationists from the USA Eastern and Western territories, were assigned to work on SDG 4: Quality Education (ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all) and its intersection with SDG 13: Climate Action (take urgent action to combat climate change and its impact). As territorial social justice and urban mission secretary for the USA Central Territory, I am privileged to advise this group.
They meet monthly to hear from women activists and leaders from around the globe and receive information and resources as they seek to engage in issues of justice. Recently, they were provided the opportunity to attend (in-person and virtually) the United Nations’ 66th annual Commission on the Status of Women event to increase their understanding of issues that disproportionately impact women and girls and to learn how women and girls around the world are involved in advocacy.
For more information about the International Social Justice Girls Group and how you might get involved, please reach out to me (Katherine.[email protected]).