International Women's Day: Canon Elly Sheard

Today (8 March 2024) is International Women’s Day; a day where we join with others, around the world, to celebrate and recognise all women’s achievements, raise awareness for women’s equality and call for positive change.

March 2024 also commemorates the 30th anniversary of the ordination of women in the church. We’d like to use this day to remember, celebrate and advocate for the women of the church and Truro Cathedral’s female clergy.

Following on from Canon Sue Wallace’s interview, we hear from another female member of the Clergy – Canon Elly Sheard.

Canon Elly was a chaplain for the Truro Colleges group and is a tutor and editor on the ‘Windows into the Christian Faith’ suite of courses that are run from Truro Cathedral. She has held the role of Canon at the cathedral since 2021; installed as the Canon for Creation Care.

We asked Canon Elly what progress she has seen in equality in her life and work, Canon Elly said,

“I spent some of my early adult life working in the mining and civil engineering industries and experienced at first hand the impact of gender discrimination in those workplaces (when it was not yet illegal to discriminate). I am always very heartened to see younger women running big construction sites or working alongside male colleagues on terms of equality in mining or other industries which have traditionally been considered all-male. I spent my university years at Oxford in the days when women students were outnumbered 5:1 by men and I am very glad such injustice is no longer permitted. I came into ordained ministry sometime after women were accepted for priestly orders and have almost always found my ministry to be welcomed and appreciated; incidences of rejection of my ministry on account of my gender have been, thankfully, rare and I have, in any case, always found that I have plenty to do amongst those who welcome my ministry and have not felt the need to regret my supposedly missed opportunities.”

We then asked Canon Elly to provide us with an International Women’s Day message, she shared:

“On a global scale, I feel there is much still to be done to help girls have the same opportunities in life as boys, especially in those parts of the world where girls are routinely denied education, either through cultural considerations or by law. This is scandalous and should end. However, I also think that equality between men and women involves not only opening the traditional male preserves to women, but also opening the traditionally female areas of domestic and child-rearing responsibilities to boys and men. One of the unintended consequences of the recent years’ work toward equality for women has been a severe loss of confidence and identity for boys and men in many Western societies. The current generation of young adults is beginning to take this to heart, but there is much more to be done, especially through education, before our society develops a truly good balance between the sexes.”

Imagine a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world that's diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. Together we can forge women's equality. Collectively we can all #InspireInclusion.