Empowering Women on the Ward Level

Posted by on August 19, 2011 in women | 48 comments

I know there are bishops out there who are aware that women don’t have as many opportunities to serve in ward leadership as men do, who see the gender imbalance (or total absence of women) in bishopric meetings and PEC meetings, who understand that talks and lessons are heavily skewed to quoting men rather than women. I know there are bishops out there who are aware that they spend more money on the boys’ programs than the girls, and that often women are uncomfortable meeting alone with the bishop to discuss sensitive matters. I know that these bishops understand the very troubling implications (does God love women as much as men? Does the Church value women as spiritual leaders to the same degree? What are we teaching our children about the worth of females?) such things have for the women and men who are sensitive to these things

So over the past few month, I’ve been considering reasonable, practical, and doable things that these bishops could do in order to address these problems to some degree and thereby empower the women in their wards. These are moderate things, baby steps, really. They’ve been done in other wards, and most wouldn’t even be on the radar screen of the average member. But they might mean the world to the women and men who likewise see these disparities, and struggle weekly with them.

Below are some ideas, and I want to acknowledge that many of them came from a bishop who sent a bunch of ideas into WAVE for feedback. What would you add to the list? What would you change? Keep in mind, I’m looking for things that would not get a bishop precipitously released.

Recognize and Promote Women as Spiritual Authorities

  • quote from women in talks and lessons. Reference scripture stories that highlight prophetic, spiritual women. Seek out, learn from, and have a female spiritual hero. This can be someone from the scriptures, church history, or a living example. It is important for the women and men in our wards to hear leaders value, use quotes from, and tell stories about women.
  • Have women train men on relevant issues—stake RS /YW/Primary presidents train bishops, RS/YW/Primary presidents help train ward council. Invite a woman into EQ and HP to give lessons occasionally.
  • Have women give the final talk in Sacrament Meetings sometimes.
  • Don’t make it a regular practice to assign conference talks as the topics for Sacrament Meeting talks. Conference talks are invariably male-authored, and they constrain speakers from going to the scriptures or other talks to find examples or quotes from women. Choose themes instead.
  • Have female ward leaders speak regularly (at least yearly) in ward sacrament meetings. For stake leaders — have women stake leaders (RS/YW/Prim presidency members) speak on a rotation on “high council” Sundays.

 

Include Women

  • Invite a woman (women) to attend every single meeting that affects the ward as a whole, including bishopric meetings. This would show that women’s ideas and voices are valued by the male leadership, and it would help everyone more effectively oversee their stewardships
  • As our General Authorities do in General Conference, speak inclusively. If a scripture or quote says ‘man’ but means all people, then change that to ‘man and woman’, ‘sons and daughters’, ‘male and female’, etc.
  • Be creative with callings. Many bishops invent callings outside the CHI. (Humanitarian Coordinator, etc.) Thus consider creating callings that might include women in important meetings and provide a forum for them to contribute. A Sacrament Meeting Coordinator could attend parts of bishopric meetings, provide insight as to who might be good speakers for certain topics, and provide links to talks by men and women that might be helpful to speakers. Also, a Bishop’s Assistant could attend all bishopric meetings, coordinate with the women’s organizations, and offer valuable insight, as invited to do so.

 

Girls and Young Women

  • make sure boys and girls, YM and YW receive roughly equal amounts of money per child.
  • Have YW come to the pulpit as they advance to their various YW classes.
  • Encourage activities that go beyond gender stereotypes – support the YW leaders in activities like career night, changing tires, campouts, etc. Support YM leaders in activities like cooking night, preparing to be good dads, etc.

 

Be Sensitive

  • Make it clear that women can bring a friend or ask for another woman to be present when she wants to discuss any issue with the bishop. Chastity is a particularly fraught topic — talking to a man who is a virtual stranger about issues of sexuality can be extremely threatening, particularly if she has had any sort of background with abuse. Likewise, would it be possible to get a woman into a disciplinary council for a woman?
  • Encourage YW and YM leaders to not use damaging object lessons when discussing chastity. The chewed stick of gum, the nail in the board, the licked cupcake, the bruised peach are not helpful images because they disregard the atonement. Also, avoid using language that portrays females as the gatekeepers of chastity.

 

 

 

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48 Comments

  1. I think all points are above are excellent. I would also add this:

    Boys/Young Men
    Have Young Men engage in otherwise traditionally female activities, i.e. how to change a diaper, how to sooth a crying baby, how to perform baby and child CPR, how to fix a family meal for 6 on a budget, how to make bread from scratch, etc. Have these separate to a Young Women’s activity so it is not a completion and is taken seriously. Have Young Men provide babysitting as a service at least once per annum (I know that changing diapers can be problematic as per policy, but work around that). Have a project that involves the young men making a quilt or similar. Have Young Men do an annual presentation on a General Relief Society President or similar, focusing on something they have learned from studying her, whilst avoiding language aimed at honouring her for who she married or how many babies she had.

    I know this is somewhat off track, but the purpose is to include boys and young men in developing traditionally female skills and appreciation for women so that they respect and honour what women have done for centuries often without thanks or recognition. i.e. Teach the young men as well as the young women to value the women of the church.

    ** bonus idea** Have a Young Men’s father and son cake decorating competition for Father’s Day or similar (my ward growing up did this and it was so much fun- the primary children judged it based on which cake they wanted most to eat… a plain chocolate cake with sprinkles won over the complicated layer cakes).

    • Spunky,
      I like this idea, I would like to add, that we should also have young women do traditional male role jobs as well(i.e) learn how to change a flat tire, shovel snow, mow the lawn, that way they won’t have learned dependence on a man

  2. I’m trying to imagine emailing this post to my stake president, stake RS President. Ummm…….
    Now, I could maybe send it to my bishop and definitely my RS President.
    As I was reading this, I realized how little I quote from women and I am chastised. I’m going to make an effort in lessons and future talks to make that change, but it will make the job harder just b/c there’s less to choose from. Or maybe I’m looking in the wrong places?

    • Rachel, I think many leaders would be very receptive to these ideas and grateful that you offered them. If you (or anyone else) want a word document of this list to give to your leader(s) email me at carolinekline1 at gmail dot com.

      As for quoting from women authorities, the person I turn to over and over again is Chieko Okazaki. If I ever give a talk or teach a lesson, she’s the first one I turn to, and invariably I find something wonderful and insightful there. She’s written 5 or 6 books, and you can get them used for very little $ on Amazon.

      • Also, LDS WAVE collected a book with quotes from women about a variety of subjects. It’s called Words of Wisdom and is available here.
        http://www.ldswave.org/?p=808

        You can view the book online, or I actually have some that I ordered from Lulu and mail you copies if you email me info at ldswave dot org.

      • Doh! Yes, the WAVE book is a fantastic resource. Thanks for mentioning that, Jessawhy!

    • I’m not sure if it’s still in print, but there is a book called “Inspirational Quotations from Latter-Day Saint Women” published in 2001, with quotes on a large variety of topics. The BYU Women’s Conference books could be a good resource as well, especially since many of the Auxiliary Presidencies past or present have spoken there.

      • Thanks for the WAVE link. That is a huge resource.

    • Hey guys!

      Just read this article:
      http://newsroom.lds.org/article/diversity-strength-mormon-women-new-relief-society-book

      Do we know anything about his particular book yet other than what the press release says? Hopefully it’ll be awesome.

  3. What about YM/YW activity exchanges…YW pres runs an activity for the boys, and YM pres for the girls?

    • I like this!

      • When I was YM president we did this on a March 1st for “March fools”. I went to priesthood opening exercises and then went from there to teach the Laurel class. The YW president taught the Priest Quorum. Our respective counselors followed suit. It was a lot of fun (we tipped the Bishop off beforehand and he was okay with it).
        One thing I remember most was asking those Laurels which Young Men of any age they admired most. One named “Heidi” said she admired “Dallas” because, said she, “He treats you like a human being.” I asked the Laurels if I could share their comments with the Priests that next Sunday, without using anyone’s names. They said, “Sure”. I told the Priests the next Sunday about what the Laurel had said about “He treats you like a human being.”
        BTW: Dallas and Heidi married in the Temple about 12 years ago and are still together. If I ever teach the YM again, or give a talk to young singles, I will tell them that story.

  4. My BiL is the YM Prez in his ward and happens to work at a law firm that owns a suite at the local minor league baseball stadium.

    Once a year he takes the YM (and leaders) to the game (catered, in the suite) and once a year he takes the YW (and leaders) to the game.

    I’m really proud of the effort he’s made to share the wealth, so to speak, with the YW. It sets a great example for the YM and others in the ward that the YW are equally important as the YM.

    • Good for him!

  5. One change they’re ever so slowly integrating into my ward is to have a woman be the final speaker in Sacrament meeting as well as invite women to say both the invocation and benediction.

    • My ward does not mix up speaker gender order and it is a particular pet peeve for me. It creates the illusion of hierarchy: inexperienced youth first, women in the middle and glorious priesthood brethren as the grand finale.

      At the least, my current ward does not always have husbands and wives speak in the same meeting. I attended a ward that did that as a rule. It was a married student ward, so there were no singles, but there were women whose husbands were not members or whose husbands were under church discipline. It was as if these women were under discipline as well, because as long as their husbands could not or would not speak in church they were not invited to, either.

    • I was asked to speak on Easter one year. I wrote a beautiful, well-thought out talk and put a lot of effort into it. And anyone who knows me (which my bishop did, since I’d grown up in his ward) knows that I’m a good public speaker and well-educated in rhetoric and writing. The other person asked to speak is a great guy, but he’s not a public speaker or well-trained in writing and rhetoric. And since he also grew up in my ward, my bishop would have known that. I went first; he went last, with a talk that was full of cliches and mostly done off the cuff with very few notes–and which barely mentioned the Atonement. On Easter. Maybe it makes me sound conceited, but I don’t really care. That meeting would have been better had I ended it. And had my bishop thought about it, he probably would have realized that between the two of us speaking, I would be giving the stronger talk. But I’m a woman and the other guy is a man, so clearly he goes last as the anchor speaker. Bleh. Makes me a little bonkers, especially when I work so very hard on the talks and lessons I give in order to make them worth listening to/participating in.

      Sorry to rant. This is just one particularly annoying issue for me. It would be nice to be recognized for who I am and what I can bring to the table rather than letting sex determine something like this. It would be understandable if it had been a ward where the leadership didn’t really know me, but everyone in that ward knew me and my capabilities.

      • This one is always especially interesting to me, because it doesn’t seem to be policy, or at least if it is it’s not always followed–my husband and I were asked to speak last week and we planned on having me speak last, because of the two of us I’m the better speaker. We figured they’d order us with me first and that we’d just ignore that, but when we got to church on Sunday the program had me speaking last. When we asked the bishop about it, he said, “You said you were the more comfortable public speaker, so I figured you’d be happier going last.” I was very, very pleasantly surprised.

      • Yes, since I have been in Australia, I have been the 3rd speaker several times– I cannot recall what it was like when I was state-side, I have been away for too long. But I have a growing appreciation for the fact that the church is more conservative in some areas than others- and I am lucky enough to be in a ward where the Bishop and his wife are Sunstone readers. (have I been translated?) Visiting American Mormons and associated conservative ideology slap me back into archaic reality sometimes, though.

  6. Caroline,
    What an incredible list! I plan to print this off and share it with my bishop.

  7. Love the list.

    I would also love to hear back from anyone who does share any of these tips or the whole list with your bishop, branch president or stake president. I hope anyone who does will come back and comment about the experience, how it was received, and if any of these ideas were implemented. (At LDS.org, there are “email your stake presidency” and “email your bishopric” buttons, if you want to send a link.)

    Regarding this tip:

    Invite a woman into EQ and HP to give lessons occasionally.

    I would add young men lessons as well. I was asked to give a lesson on missionary work to the priests quorum when I was a recently returned missionary and I think it was a good experience for all of us. (It was also kind of funny to see all the confused faces looking for the Soprano voice during the opening song at priesthood meeting.)

  8. I LOVE these ideas!

    Also, what about doing a special ceremony for each YW who gets her Recognition award, similar to an Eagle Court of Honor. A really big to-do for her. As a previous YW who had two older brothers, I really noticed the disparity. I still remember both Courts of Honor for my brothers, and that was over 20 years ago. I think I was just called to the stand and handed a cheap necklace when I earned my supposedly equivelent reward.

    • My YW president did an open house for me when I got my YW recognition award. It was really nice and everyone signed a book for the event and everything. I think it would be great if this happened in more places.

  9. I love these ideas, too, Caroline. I sometimes get discouraged that the changes we might actually get made are so small. But at the same time, I recognize that these kinds of small changes in the visibility and role of women in a local unit can have an enormous impact on the attitudes of members and the children growing up watching them happen. And it would be nice to have some of these things come from local leadership. I do everything I can to model the kind of egalitarian views about gender and sex I think the church should embrace, but it would work better with a little institutional support, too.

  10. This is a great list. My husband and I came to the conclusion years ago that I should always be the last speaker when we speak together since he tends to run short on time and I can fill the time easily and don’t mind public speaking. We have had a few people seem surprised at the change, but we have always been accommodated wherever we’ve been. I appreciate that.

    And another shout out for the quote book from WAVE. It was so helpful for my last talk and I have been inspired to read some of the talks and books those quotes come from.

  11. I really like The List. I must admit that many of the items on the list had not occurred to me previously, but they make perfect sense. It seems to me that they are reasonable and all of them more a matter of practice or tradition rather than policy.

    Regarding the Eagle Court of Honor vs. the YW award, a lot of what happens at Eagle Courts is outlined by BSA, not the Church. It has been awhile since I was last a YW leader, but I don’t recall anything preventing the YW leaders and the families from making a big to do out of that accomplishment. In Scouts there is a committee member responsible for the courts of honor. Maybe the YW leaders need to start creating something similar as a part of the responsibilities of one of the YW presidency. They could work with the girl’s family to create something memorable.

  12. Great thoughts, Caroline! Reading through your list I’m struck at how nontraditional my experience in the church has been. In my singles ward in Boston, many moons ago, we always had a female Sacrament meeting coordinator and a female appointment secretary. And with one bishop I was called as the Bishop’s Assistant. It seemed odd to me then, going to the meetings and even having access to the ward membership lists, especially since I’m from a very traditional family, but I enjoyed the experience. It totally prepared me to later be RS pres in that same ward where, as RS pres, I was asked to teach EQ. The lesson was on the Relief Society, so they thought it would be good to have someone teach who knew something about it! Even on my mission, which is often the most traditional church experience of all, my mission president was so respectful to the sisters. We didn’t have female APs, but we didn’t need that sort of affirmative action because we knew he thought the world of us, trusted us, and gave us assignments every bit as hard as those of the elders. Now, in my small branch in a new African nation where the church consists of 1 unit of about 15 people, I’m regularly asked to report on the status of the ward by the mission president (the branch pres is out of the country right now). I know he leans on my leadership skills. Anyway, I’m just sharing all this, not to gloat, but because I wish other women could have these same experiences of being seen as a member and a leader…and a female…not as a woman only. I think it is possible, we just have to believe it is, and act like it should be this way….and hope the men are open to new ideas and don’t feel threatened.

    • Necia,
      I love reading about your non-traditional experiences serving in your wards. Totally gives me hope that our ward leaders can break out of the box and ask women to serve in atypical leadership positions.

  13. I would love to see money and adult resources (leaders) allocated equally to boys and girls, young men and young women. But the church’s affiliation with the scout program makes that difficult. Scouts is expensive, so much more is spent on the boys than on the girls (often for awards and badges for which there is no standardized equivalent for the girls). For the boys aged 8-11, we have Wolf leaders, Bear leaders, Webelos leaders and 11-year old (new scout) leaders, as well as the cub scout committee chair and cubmaster. For the girls aged 8-11 we have 1-2 women, total, as activity days leaders.
    I’m not a huge fan of the scouting through the church, but I do recognize that there are some benefits to using the program. Having resources and training for the leaders is one such benefit. But those resources are concentrated on benefitting the boys, and there is no equivalent organization to support the girls. The best I have seen is when women who have worked within the scouting program then use it for the activity days girls as well. Our girls are able to go to the same day camp as our cubs, but even then, the boys earn belt loops and pins, while the girls receive no token award.

  14. Another discrepancy that has been bothering me lately is that callings within elders’ quorums are handled within the quorum, but callings dealing with all other auxiliaries are put before the congregation for a sustaining vote. So while men do have the opportunity to raise their hands to sustain a sister called to teach in relief society, no woman can sustain a man called to teach in elders’ quorum.
    As an auxiliary leader, I find it especially frustrating to not know who’s been called in elders’ quorum, because I am submitting names for callings within my own organization, only to find that the men have already been given callings. This would be less of a problem if the elders were better at updating the ward database to indicate that these men had callings. But since they don’t keep up with the paperwork, and they don’t issue their callings in a public forum (sacrament meeting), I end up wasting time.

  15. This is something that has bothered me as well. The main thing I would change would be the pure money distribution. Even my ward has most of its budget and activities going to the young men.

    • I know! So frustrating sometimes.

  16. I have a question about this. I’d love to bring these kinds of things up, but, honestly, I’m afraid to.

    My ward is very wealthy and very conservative. I’m already the “weird one”. My husband is not a member, I breastfeed my now 2yo son (without a cover; shocking!), I’m a registered democrat, I’m passionate about child passenger safety (no, the primary president may NOT take my then 3yo, 26lb child in her car w/ just a backless booster seat so that she can attend a primary activity that’s being held on a Thursday at 10am, while my husband and I are working, so we can’t take her ourselves), and to top it off, I worked full-time outside the home (unheard of in my ward unless she’s a single mom) until I was laid off this summer.

    No one will give me a calling (trust me, the previous bishop tried, and all he could get was “assistant r.s. chorister” or “substitute teacher in S.S.”). The new bishop wont even try to get me one (he’s very “why isn’t your husband a member yet?????” every time I talk to him).

    I can just imagine a major backlash if I were to bring this up. How would I do this w/o making it even more difficult for me?

    On a completely different note, I have been the final speaker before. When I returned from my mission (2003), several wards/branches in my stake (IA/IL) invited me to speak. My dad was a former bishop and then-current high council member, so they invited him to speak w/me. In most wards, they assigned him to speak first, with me concluding. In one ward, my dad had to insist b/c they wanted him to be the final speaker, but he said, “you wanted to hear her speak about her mission, so let her. I’m just here b/c you need 2 speakers, so I’ll go first and give a brief talk and then she will talk for the rest of the time. That’s the reason you invited her!”

    In my current ward, the only woman who always spoke last was the R.S. President. That happened at least yearly under our former bishop. Other women spoke last occasionally, prob 2-3 additional concluding speakers per year. He also had women giving the benediction about 50% of the time. Since getting our new bishop, no women have been the concluding speaker and no women have given the closing prayer in Sacrament Meeting nor combined R.S./P.H. meeting.

    • a primary activity that’s being held on a Thursday at 10am,

      Can I just say – this immediately made me think – HOW inconsiderate. Since I come from a single parent family (dad died a month after I was born) stuff like this really upsets me. In the last family ward I was in there were a 70% of SAHM with kids in primary, but they still only held extra activities on Saturday so that EVERYONE could come. Since the 30% (two working parents/single parents) had at least one person home on Saturdays.

      • That’s what I thought too. They did transport other kids for parents who were working, but my kids are the only ones in daycare (the single moms in my ward are all living with their parents, who provide them w/ grandparent care or provide them free housing so mom can be a stay-at-home-mom until the kids are older).

        However, in addition to my excluded child, they also excluded the 4 kids who live in the other school district (our ward covers a small section of the less wealthy side of our city that belongs to a diff school district) b/c they held it during our school district’s spring break, but the other school district was still in session. I found it incredibly rude.

        I brought it up w/ our old bishop and they were directed to return to Saturday activities. Primary activities have been ended now, so the problem doesn’t exist. (Except now, playgroup has been moved to the HOA’s playground, so those of us who dont live there can’t easily go).

    • lanwenyi, I’m so sorry you have what sounds like a hard situation to be in. When it comes to questions about your husband joining, I think you shouldn’t hesitate to politely but firmly tell people it’s none of their damn business (sans swear, which I’m sure wouldn’t go over well). It’s not their job to turn everyone into a cookie cutter image of what they think the right thing is. It’s their job to love and support everyone in the space they’re currently in. How to communicate that nicely–maybe something like “Bishop I understand and really appreciate your concern. However, my husband will take his spiritual journey on his own timeline and I can’t rush that without causing strain in our marriage. I know you’re asking out of sincere concern, and I really appreciate it, but it does add a little stress to my life to have the question come up regularly. Could we perhaps only talk about this when I come in for my temple recommend interview?” Then you only have to talk about it every two years, you’ve validated the bishop’s concern, and given him a space in which he can ask.

      I’m not sure about suggesting these changes for how women could be more involved. I think some of them could be made, but it will take a good deal of persuasive finesse and couching it in terms that will make them sound like they’re in keeping with what your ward members want. For instance, you could print up four or five copies of the WAVE quote book (base the number on how many regular RS teachers you have), take them to the education counselor in your RS presidency, and present them as a gift and a valuable resource: “I thought our teachers might appreciate having this resource; I love hearing what our wonderful RS leaders/the righteous women of our church/the women in the scriptures say about the topics we study–it really helps me tie what we learn to my own life.” If the WAVE document has WAVE branding, take it off. I know that WAVE is made up of actively practicing Mormon women, but if someone went looking for it online it would be pretty apparent it’s a feminist organization. No need to throw a wrench in the works when you’re up against big odds.

      If you want to serve in the ward, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with persistently volunteering for a calling (especially if it’s a “less desirable” calling that the bishop might have a hard time filling) or to mention to the RS education counselor that you’d be happy to step in last minute if they ever have a need to find a substitute (assuming you would be). If I were in your situation, I think I’d be completely frank with these people. Tell them that you want to contribute and serve in the ward, that doing so is important for your spiritual health, but feel like maybe people have overlooked you because you come from a part-member family or a slightly unconventional background; express how that makes you feel. Couch it in terms of the Pauline Body of Christ idea maybe. If you do it with genuine willingness to serve and desire to be involved, maybe they’ll be able to overcome preconceived notions and help you find a space to contribute.

      I wish there was more we could do to make this situation better for you.

      • I’ll have to try the “body of christ” method and the quote book. I will have to remove the WAVE branding though. I think I *shocked* the RS Pres when she saw the Exponent II magazine on my table!

        The issue w/ questions about my husband and not having a calling were actually just a representation of how I’m regarded (or not) in my ward, which is why I’m concerned about bring this kind of idea up. I usually just end up leaving RS or GD when something that I consider way out of line comes up. I cant stay and give silent assent, but my voice and opinion are not wanted either. I’d love to see some changes in my ward, esp since our bishopric change has caused less opportunities for women in our ward. I just dont know how to do it and not make things worse.

    • Just wanted to give a shout-out for caring about child passenger safety! Blows my mind that more people don’t care much.

      (And I love all the ward level ideas, too!)

  17. First, this is a great post, I like all of the suggestions regarding having YW/YM activities reversed. I would like to see someone in these auxiliaries speak to the Bishop in their wards about the language used in making public announcements, For instance, In my last ward, a YW made the move from MIA maid to YW and when the Bishop made the announcement he stated,” So. and so, has had a major event in her life this year, she turned yada, yada age and has since been made a young woman.” Now I know he didn’t mean to embarrass her, but, still it was embarrassing.

    • My Bishop used to call the 12 year olds up to the podium to recite their favorite Article of Faith when they got their… whatever they get for participating in the … I’m blanking! from the primary activities program, (what’s it called?!) which I thought was pretty cool. AND he did it in Birthday order, so it wasn’t a boy girl thing.

      • I should say, at my birthday interview he asked me if I wanted to do it, and reminded me that I’d have to recite an Article of Faith. I’m pretty sure he let the shyer ones opt out if they wanted. So, totally no pressure.

  18. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Lately, on this site, it has been as if the women posting having been inside my head. You’ve taken my recent frustrations, questions, doubts, and concerns, and addressed them so eloquently and succinctly, also providing answers, suggestions, and direction I have been lacking. This post couldn’t have come at a better time.

    • CG, I’m so glad you found this post and this blog helpful!

  19. Hi everyone,
    I was gone for most of yesterday so I didn’t have a chance to respond to many of you, but I just wanted to say THANK YOU for sharing all these great ideas and great points. Fantastic! I love all the points that have been made about YM and YW. Also for those of you who are struggling in wards that wouldn’t be open to any ideas like this, I just want to say how much I feel for you. I know how soul crushing and alienating it can be to know that no one in your ward leadership would even begin to understand your concerns.

  20. I guess I never realized how liberal my ward is. Of course, I’m a Laurel, so I can’t speak for how it goes in Relief Society, but…in my ward, the 1st assistant and Laurel president take turns conducting BYC each month. Young women are always recognized for advancing classes and their new callings are announced. Each year when the young men hold an Aaronic Priesthood Commemoration, the young women are invited. Young women are also invited on weekend day hikes and to father-son campouts.

    My bishop has always made sure that each girl feels just as loved and important as the boys…but this may have to do with the fact that he has five daughters :-)

  21. This is SO exciting! Thanks for posting this Caroline and for all of the great suggestions. Our goal at WAVE this year is to turn this list in to a resource guide, include more suggestions from people (like these ones above! Thank you for the inspiration), and then make it available as a PDF for free on our website. That way leaders can reference it, we can print it out and pass it on to different leaders, etc.

    So far I’ve approached my own stake president and the bishops that I know and most of the (even super conservative ones) have been very receptive to the ideas. I don’t think they’ll implement it all, but it is always good to have some ideas, is kind of the sense that I get from them. If nothing else, it will be things that they are aware of now. Often, for me anyway, I just need these types of inequalities recognized and acknowledged, even if nothing is done about them just yet….

  22. I especially like the suggestion about encouraging youth activities that go beyond gender stereotypes. I know I wasn’t the typical teenage girl but I always wished I could have gone on the scout campouts because my dad was a scout leader and I loved camping and hiking. And I would also say I think it would be great if there were more callings for adult women that go beyond gender stereotypes. I’d love to be in a calling that involves lots of outdoor activities. The YW’s camp director still only gets to go on that one big campout each summer, possibly a preparatory hike. I was so jealous when my husband was called as a scout leader and got to take the YM on a handful of campouts per year.

    • When I was in YW, the YM were going white water rafting and we wanted to go, but were forbidden. Something about it being too dangerous and expensive. (Which is frankly just WRONG!) The next year they convinced the Bishopric to allow the YW to go rock climbing with the YM, it was a fight, but it was allowed. And then when I was out of YW, there were other various activities, and each time the YW asked it was easier and easier to get permission. So, I think you should keep asking (or have the YW pres. keep asking) if you want to do multiple camp outs. Point out the YM do it and that you can pay for it (in your budget) IF the budget is skewed towards the YM, ask why that is (they’ll tell you it’s the boyscout flag drive money – in our ward they had this problem – which was REALLY a shame, because there were only like… 3 YM and 15 YW – and so the YW were actually doing the whole flag thing ANYWAY, so they ended up getting money from that. I’m not certain if it was that particular fundraiser, or if they just put less of the WARD money towards the YM since they made so much in the fundraiser)… anywho, the point is, perseverance is the key! or at least it was in my family ward a few years ago.

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