Thursday, 8 March 2018 will mark 107 years since the first ‘international women’s day’ was observed*. To mark the occasion, The Salvation Army shares some feminist thoughts of its co-founder, William Booth. ** Booth, an English preacher, activist and social critic, was born in 1829 and died in 1912. His vision, shared with his wife and co-founder Catherine Booth, remains an inspiration and challenge for many people.
‘… woman is as important, as valuable, as capable, and as necessary to the progress and happiness of the world as man,’ Booth wrote. ‘Unfortunately, a large number of people of every tribe, class and nationality, think otherwise. They still cling to the notion of bygone ages – that, as a being, woman is inferior to man; and, in proportion to the degree upon which they act upon that notion, they are left behind in the march of civilisation and religion.
‘To many men, woman is little more than a plaything for their leisure hours. To others she is like a piece of property, a slave in everything but name, oft-times being treated with less consideration as to health and comfort than the horses that run in the omnibus, or the beasts that are fattening for slaughter… the sexes are equal in value both as regards body and soul; equal in the capacity for joy or sorrow; equal in their standing before God, and the love [God] bears them… I do not say that every individual faculty in woman is equal to the corresponding faculty in man… They differ in character and degree…
‘For example, in the possession of physical force and in the power of the will, the man will often be found to excel the woman. On the other hand, in quickness of perception, in power of endurance, and in the strength of love (the quality in us which is most godlike), woman is generally superior to man. Taking the whole round of powers and faculties of woman, therefore, I say that she is equal to man in the value of her gifts and the extent of her influence; and, I maintain, that if she be given the chance she will prove that this is so…’