Bishop of Gloucester makes House of Lords gender equality speech

The Right Reverend Rachel Treweek
Image caption The Right Reverend Rachel Treweek is the first woman diocesan bishop to serve as one of the Lords Spiritual

The Bishop of Gloucester has spoken about the need to value men and women equally, during her maiden speech in the House of Lords.

The Right Reverend Rachel Treweek is the first woman diocesan bishop to serve as one of the Lords Spiritual.

She spoke of her "great surprise" at being appointed Bishop of Gloucester.

Bishop Treweek also talked about the importance of enabling young women to fulfil their potential, ahead of International Women's Day on Tuesday.

'Fully flourish'

She spoke about beginning her professional life in the NHS as a speech and language therapist when the profession was in the spotlight in the context of the Equal Pay act.

Image caption Bishop Treweek took the parliamentary oath before taking a place on the benches

The legal claim was that speech and language therapists - predominantly women - were doing work of equal value to that of male clinical psychologists.

She then spoke of being at theological college in the early 1990s when women could not be priests in the Church of England.

"I never imagined that one day I might be called to be a Bishop," she said.

When the first women were ordained as priests in England in 1994, Bishop Treweek was in South Africa, during the lead-up to the first post-apartheid elections.

"This was another pivotal time in my desire for all people, irrespective of colour or gender, to fully flourish," she said.

She spoke of her concern at reading an online pupil survey in which girls said they felt less confident about the future than boys.

International Women's Day "reminds us that we have much work yet to do together to work for the flourishing of women worldwide as well as in the UK", she said.

She said that Gloucestershire would soon be the only county in England in which the Lord Lieutenant, High Sheriff, Bishop and Chief Constable would all be women.

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