‘Only one in three contributors a woman’

The Quaker Socialist Society has sent a statement to the Book of Discipline Revision Committee regarding the lack of diversity in the section on social responsibility

Ada Salter. | Photo: Via Wikimedia Commons.

The Quaker Socialist Society (QSS) has called for a renewal of the language used to talk about social responsibility in the process of revising Quaker faith & practice. The group has sent a statement to the Book of Discipline Revision Committee after it found that in the section on social responsibility, ‘only one in three named contributors to the chapter is a woman, and not a single named contributor is a person of colour’. 

The submission also notes that ‘in the first thirty entries only two women are featured at all. Despite this, the most popular three quotes by individuals (rather than groups) are all by women’. It also highlights that some passages, for example from William Penn and Michael Sorensen, use male-gendered language.

A statement sent from QSS to the Friend says: ‘QSS has suggested ten new passages, by Ada Salter, Vanessa Julye, Esther Mombo, Helen Steven, the Quaker Women’s Group, Barrington Dunbar, Bayard Rustin and Anne Knight, in addition to Alfred Salter and George Fox. It also proposes a history chapter that would allow Friends to acknowledge the roles of Sojourner Truth, Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr among others in shaping Quaker thought through their close relationships with Friends.’ 

The submission follows a period of discernment which started with QSS’s annual meeting during Yearly Meeting 2019. Tim Gee, from QSS, told the Friend the group has received a ‘warm reply’ from the committee: ‘We have [also] recognised that it may be time to update the Foundations of a True Social Order (Quaker faith & practice 23.16) which had a number of Socialist Quakers among its drafters.’

The submission to the Book of Discipline Revision Committee, which can be read on the QSS website, also says that ‘the trade union, anti-racist and feminist movements after 1919 are not referred to, but the anti-slavery, women’s suffrage and conscientious objection movements before 1919 are’. QSS said this leads to a party-political bias, with Liberal MPs quoted but not Labour or Green.

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