2016 has been an interesting year for us all, but not least for us women. Reflecting on the numerous news stories of the last 12 months, with their highs and lows, here are 5 things that I’ve learnt as a woman leader in 2016…
- You can win 4 tennis Olympic gold medals but, if you’re a woman, people may not remember
In August, BBC presenter John Inverdale praised Andy Murray for being the first person to win two Olympic tennis golds. Murray swiftly reminded him that both Venus and Serena Williams have won four gold medals each. Doh!
- Even the Queen takes guidance from God
90 years is an impressive age for anyone to reach, and many joined in with the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations earlier in the year. For me, a highlight was reflecting on the Queen’s faith when I read ‘The Servant Queen and the King she serves’. What an outstanding example of a woman of influence humbly proclaiming that her life and leadership is anchored in her faith.
- Mary, Mel and Sue may have broken our hearts, but integrity has won the day
RIP Great British Bake Off, or at least GBBO as we know it. This year brought mixed emotions – joy and jubilation as a new batch of contestants stole our hearts every Wednesday evening, and tears and tantrums when we learnt GBBO would move to Channel 4 – minus three of the original four presenters and judges. Mary, Mel and Sue decided not to follow the money, and instead to quit the show – and it is this act of integrity that has shone brightest among all my 2016 Bake Off memories.
- The sisterhood is strong
From the reboot of the Powerpuff Girls to the all-female re-make of Ghostbusters, this year has shown us that we women, different though we may be, are strongest when we are united.
- Some glass ceilings are yet to be smashed
Regardless of what you think of her politics, Hillary Clinton’s defeat to Donald Trump means that the USA have still never had a woman in the top position. Clinton perfectly summed up the hopes and frustrations of many in her concession speech when she said, "I know we have still not shattered that highest and hardest glass ceiling. But someday, someone will, and hopefully sooner than we might think right now."
This year has held a lot of lessons – we are making progress, but we still have a way to go. We hold on to hope, integrity, and faith above all else. We all have the potential to be trailblazers, and together we will achieve so much more.
In my day-job for Girls’ Brigade Ministries, I lead a discipleship and leadership initiative for women called The Esther Collective. Together we dare to ask the big questions, to lean in to God, and to respond to His call ‘for such a time as this’ (Esther Ch.4:14). We cultivate the values of integrity, influence and faith as we explore what it means to live and lead for Jesus today.
As I reflect on the lessons of 2016, I am expectant about what God will teach me, and many other women through life, through leadership, and through The Esther Collective next year.
Charlotte Hendy is The Esther Collective project leader for Girls’ Brigade Ministries, and loves seeing women discover who God made them to be and what He is calling them to do ‘for such a time as this’ (Esther Ch. 4:14). Originally from Plymouth, she studied Theology at Oxford and now lives in Sheffield. Charlotte suffers from seaside withdrawal symptoms and dreams of one day owning a house by the sea.