Breaking Biases

By Sharon Platt-McDonald, BUC Director for Women, Health & Adventist Community Services.

From suffragettes to supervisors, from revolutions to rights, from struggles to successes, women have been striving for decades for an equitable and inclusive existence, void of discrimination, stereotype and bias.

This determination has paved the way for International Women's Days like this year's theme - #BreakTheBias.*1

Challenging behaviours

Hosting various seminars and discussions with women in leadership over the years, I continue to hear of the disparities in how females are treated compared to their male colleagues. Even within religious circles, women are sometimes confined to specific aspects of ministry, and scriptures are misused to subjugate them.

However, I have observed that the courage to challenge biased behaviours has proven advantageous to organisations willing to engage in dialogue and make changes. This move has resulted in acknowledging prevailing deficits, confronting behaviours that create an inequitable workforce, and instigating relevant training. Subsequently, the organisational mission has been enhanced.

Ellen G White states:

"When a great and decisive work is to be done, God chooses men and women to do this work, and it will see the loss if the talents of both are not combined."Evangelism, p 469.

Your speech matters

Even casual speech sends messages that influence how young girls see themselves and build their confidence.

Sheryl Sandberg said this:

"Next time you are about to call a little girl bossy, say instead: She has executive leadership skills."

We are the steppingstones for change, challenging mindsets that influence narrow thinking, demeaning speech, and negative behaviours. 

Taking action

Various agencies campaign for the equality of women and girls. Organisations like 'Compassion', 'World Vision', and 'Plan International', whose 'Sponsor a Girl' project, is making a significant impact on the lives of females globally. They exist to equip vulnerable girls to reach beyond their limiting circumstances of poverty, discrimination and cultural restrictions, giving them choices and power over their future.

I sponsor girls overseas to augment the scope of their existence and enhance their life opportunities, so they can realise their dreams, accomplish their aspirations, and even exceed their goals.

The young girl I am currently sponsoring, albeit facing challenges today, will have a better chance of survival tomorrow. Who knows what she may accomplish? Perhaps, she may emerge as a campaigner for women's rights, like Malala Yousafzai, who, as a teenage girl in Pakistan, became a human rights activist, advocating for the rights of women and girls and worldwide access to education. She survived an assassination attempt in 2012 yet bounced back and continued her activism.

May the voice of such young women never be silenced.

The words of Malala Yousafzai are both timely and impactful when she said:

"I raise up my voice—not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard…We cannot all succeed when half of us is held back."

We echo these sentiments as our collective voices reverberate across the annals of time, re-echoing the sound of progress. The demonstrable progress that is measurable becomes our lived reality that all men and all women are created equally.

*1IWD: IWD 2022 campaign theme: #BreakTheBias (