WATCH is pleased to be sponsoring this conference.  You can book your place through this link or via the QR code below.

The Not Equal Yet Conference, sponsored by Women and the Church (WATCH), will be held on Saturday 20 April 2024 at St John’s Church Waterloo

The Not Equal Yet conference aims to break the current taboo in the Church of England about continuing discrimination against women and to start some conversations about whether it is now time to start treating women and men equally.

Although the Church does now have female priests and bishops, churches are still permitted to say ‘no’ to female priests applying to be their vicars; to say ‘no’ to female priests blessing the bread and wine in services; and to say ‘no’ to female bishops (and bishops who have ordained women) and request a special male bishop.

Furthermore, there is no requirement for churches to be transparent about these things, so often people attend churches, and support them financially for many years, without knowing that they are churches that discriminate against women.

Many large inner-city churches, such as All Souls Langham Place and St Helen’s Bishopsgate in London, St Andrews the Great in Cambridge, and St Ebbe’s in Oxford, do not allow a woman to be their vicar.

One in 12 bishops in the Church of England do not fully accept women as priests or church leaders.

The appointments system for diocesan bishops is skewed so that only two out of the last 11 appointments have been women.

And the situation is getting worse.

Every year more and more clergy are appointed who don’t recognise female priests or actively restrict women’s leadership.

The lead speaker at the Not Equal Yet conference will be the Rt Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Bishop of Dover, who said recently, ‘In 2024, 80 years after the first woman was ordained to the priesthood in the Anglican Communion, women are still having to step aside from many roles and continue to be humiliated by a Church that tells us on a daily basis that our ministry is still “in reception.”’  Speaking of the arrangements made in 2014 to enable women to be bishops on the condition that those who did not accept them were ‘protected,’ she said, ‘The women bishops thing ain’t working – and we are paying the price… If God entrusted women to carry the living Word, will he not also entrust us to bring good news to the oppressed?’

Speakers will address different aspects of discrimination against women in the Church of England and their impact:

  • The Rt Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Bishop of Dover – Enabling the souls of women to sing
  • Revd Canon Prof. Mark Chapman, Vice-Principal of Ripon College Cuddesdon and Professor of the History of Modern Theology at the University of Oxford will ask whether it is appropriate for the Church of England, as the Established Church with its 26 seats in the House of Lords, to go on discriminating against women.
  • Dr Sharon Jagger, Senior Lecturer in Religion York St. John University, will reference her recent research that shows how lay women are diminished by the arrangements that limit their roles and discourage vocations.
  • Theo Hobsonauthor and theologian, will ask whether the arrangements limiting women’s ministry in the Church have brought more division than unity – with some clergy, including bishops, not receiving communion from others, including from the Archbishop of Canterbury because he has ordained women.
  • Revd Naomi Nixon, CEO of the Student Christian Movement, will reference the Honest Church Campaign which calls for transparency about the limits that some churches put on women’s roles.
  • Alex. D.J. Fry, sociologist and senior lecturer at Bournemouth University, will speak about recent published academic research which shows that the theological arguments used to limit women’s ministry are principally ‘system justification’ arguments made by those benefiting from ongoing discrimination.
  • Dr Jeremy Clines, Chaplain, University of Sheffield – will speak about ‘the unseen cost’ of discrimination, how the well-being of women is affected by living and working in an institution that discriminates on the grounds of sex, even if they accept this.
  • Discrimination has always existed in the Christian Church, despite Christ proclaiming that there should be no first and no last, if we live the way God wants us to live.  Arguments have been made from scripture and tradition to support all kinds of discrimination, including apartheid in South Africa and the Ku Klux clan in the US – which are now seen universally as wrong, including in the Church.

WATCH is a campaign group that wants to see a Church where all people are treated equally and we hope that the conference will free people to start having conversations that question the legitimacy of discrimination against women and to see that it is unjust, untrue to the Christian message and unsafe.

WATCH Chair, Revd Martine Oborne says, ‘There are women and girls and men and boys all over the country attending churches that teach either directly or indirectly that women need to be under the authority of men and this needs to be recognised as wrong and frankly dangerous.  It also makes it impossible for the Church to play an authentic role in standing up for much-needed gender justice in other parts of the world.’

We hope that the Not Equal Yet conference will be an important milestone in finally bringing discrimination against women to an end in the Church.

Full programme here:

9.30- 10.00 Coffee & registration  
10.00-10.15 Welcome and introduction Revd Martine Oborne, WATCH Chair
10.15- 10.45 Daring to claim the sky

Enabling the souls of women to sing

(with Q&A)

The Rt Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin

Bishop of Dover

10.45-11.15 A Church Fractured

How the arrangements have created division not unity

(with Q&A)

Theo Hobson

theologian and author

11.15-11.45 Coffee  
11.45-12.15 Establishment or Discrimination?

‘Mutual flourishing’, institutionalised discrimination and the future of Establishment

(with Q&A)

Revd Canon Prof. Mark Chapman

Vice-Principal of Ripon College Cuddesdon and Professor of the History of Modern Theology at the University of Oxford

12.15-12.45 Rock the Boat!

An exploration of non-transparency

of positions on gender roles in C of E churches

Dr Sharon Jagger, Senior Lecturer in Religion, York St. John University
12.45-1.15 Theology or Misogyny?

How social factors influence gender attitudes rather than theological conscience

(with Q&A)

Dr Alex D.J. Fry

Sociologist and Senior Lecturer

at Bournemouth University


1.15-2.00 Lunch  
2.00-2.30 The Unseen Cost

Surviving moral injury in oppressive organisations

(with Q&A)

Dr Jeremy Clines

Chaplain, University of Sheffield

2.30-3.00 Honest Church?

Encouraging greater honesty about women’s opportunities or limits in churches

Revd Naomi Nixon, CEO of the Student Christian Movement
3.00-3.15 Call to Action

Why stand for Synods and how this helps

(with Q&A)

Nic Tall

Secretary of the General Synod Gender & Sexuality Group

3.15-3.30 What can I do? Revd Kristin Breuss, WATCH trustee
3.30-4.00 Tea  
4.00-4.10 A Church of justice for everyone Revd Guy Hewitt, Racial Justice Director of the Church of England
4.10-4.15 Closing words and thanks Rev Martine Oborne, WATCH CHair
4.15-4.45 Worship Revd Mary Kells


Book your place through this link or via the QR code below.


We hope to see you there.