International Women's Day 2021

8 March 2021

To celebrate International Women's Day at Wakefield Cathedral, we sat down with the Revd Canon Leah Vasey-Saunders to discuss her role at the cathedral and her thoughts around the day.

Name: Leah Vasey-Saunders

Role: Canon Precentor

How long have you been at Wakefield Cathedral?

I have been Canon Precentor here at the Cathedral for almost 5 years.

Where were you before Wakefield Cathedral?

Before moving to Wakefield, I was a parish priest in Harworth and Bircotes (Southwell and Nottingham Diocese), just south of Doncaster.

What does your role entail at Wakefield Cathedral?

I hold a diverse role, planning, organising and preparing worship at the Cathedral, including leading the music department. I also work with a great range of partner organisations on events and special services. It’s a joy to be involved with so many wonderful, creative people.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

Whilst IWD is a day of great thankfulness, with so many amazing women to inspire me in my own life and in the world, it’s also a day when I find myself feeling reminded of the ongoing injustices women face.

I find myself deeply challenged to be the change in my own little part of the world. IWD is not about simply reaching a goal where “it doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman”, but about promoting equality, celebrating the incredible women of the past, supporting and championing the incredible women who surround us today and building a platform for the incredible women who will grace our world in the future, to aspire to achieve their full potential.

Which women inspire you?

There are so many inspirational women, it’s hard to single anyone out.

In the church's past I think I would look to Hilda, Abbess of Whitby. I sit in a seat which is dedicated to her in the Cathedral and she features in our stained-glass windows. She was an exceptional church leader in her own time amongst men and women.

Today I am most inspired by the leading women I encounter day by day in Wakefield. There are some fantastic women here – leaders in church, healthcare, education, the arts and local government - wonderful Wakefield women!

Thinking of the future, I am excited by what the next generation of women will bring, not least because I have the privilege of having a daughter who is strong, independent, assertive and unafraid to question the injustices she sees...and she always demands better of me – watch out world!

Final thoughts around International Women’s Day:

Today makes me ask myself: “What am I going to do tomorrow that brings the change I want to see in gender equality?”

International Women’s Day offers an opportunity to showcase some of the great social change we have seen over recent years, but it also presents us with a day to think about and reflect on the difference we can all make as individuals - supporting, mentoring and championing women.

These are not revolutionary ideas by any stretch of the imagination, but the more people who begin to act on these ideas, the faster the revolution around gender equality will arrive.

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