2018 is the year of the women, declares pastor in charge at the Cave Hill Wesleyan Holiness Church, Beverley Lashley. And if her wish comes through, this year could be a historic one.
“I know as far as women are concerned, this is the year of the woman. We don’t have to push for anything; it is going to happen in terms of getting into areas that used to be male dominated. You can just look and see what is happening in Barbados where women are coming to the forefront,” she says, as she expresses her desire to see a woman leading the country.
“Not just a female for female sake; someone who is competent enough to run Barbados . . . . We have competent women in so many other areas in Barbados and the one who will most likely be the one you can see right now . . . is more than competent; she has been there before and Barbados is ready for a female Prime Minister,”
Lashley adds, pointing to other women who have been elevated to high positions, including Director of Public Prosecutions Donna Babb-Agard QC, the first woman to hold that position, as well as Governor General Dame Sandra Mason. “It is just a matter of time before you have a female Prime Minister.”
And just as women become more dominant in the political and legal arenas, Lashley says the Wesleyan church continues to open doors for females as well.
“I know there are some other denominations where women sit in church and you are just there and the men are the ones up front. But I thank God for the Wesleyan church . . . where women are free to be in the forefront to be pastors and ministers in the church,” she says.
Lashley, who has headed her church for the past five years, says she did not break any glass ceiling when she was ordained, since female pastors are not uncommon in the Wesleyan Holiness faith. So she fit right in when she was ordained in 2007.
“I came from a Wesleyan church in St Michael, so having female pastors is not a new thing. At one point in time, the pastor at my own church was female. I felt very much at home. The day I was ordained they were three women so it is nothing new to the Wesleyan church, and I kind of felt good to know that they are continuing a tradition that was already established,” says the former educator of more than 33 years.
Lashley wants to continue seeing women leading the way.
And she believes women’s organizations should be in the vanguard of lobbying for legislation for women.
“. . . . Because you can’t just depend on the parliamentarians to push it. Outside of Parliament, there needs to be that movement of individuals who would sit, look and see where it is that biases against women need to be addressed, and then filter it to those in Parliament who can actually [pass the legislation],” she says.
On an individual level, Lashley advises females not to let anything or anyone prevent them from achieving their goals.
“I would say to young girls especially, know who you are. When you know who you are and what it is you want to do in life, you are going to go after it and don’t let anyone or anything stop you from what you have as your intention of what you want to be,” she says.
And reflecting on what the theme for International Women’s Day 2018 – #PressforProgress – means to her, the pastor says it suggests that women should continue to fight for the change they want to see in the world, as far as their rights are concerned.
“That kind of sends up a strong message in recognition that something is happening with women and there is a need to press a little more and go further . . . . We have come a long way, an extremely long way, from where women used to be . . . and I guess the theme is saying that we cannot stop; let’s go a little further [on] things like legislation, in terms of recognizing women and their worth,” she says.
Lashley notes that with the advent of women’s organizations, women’s rights are coming to the forefront, but International Women’s Day further cements that in the minds of individuals.
At the same time, she says the media should help generate more excitement about the day.