THE number of Christian conferences and festivals that offer a platform to more female than male speakers is rising. Greenbelt, the Church and Media Conference, and the National Youth Ministry Weekend all fielded more women than men in 2018.
Research published by the Christian database Project 3:28, set up by Natalie Collins, a blogger and activist (Back-page interview, 18 January), found that, although there was a one-per-cent decrease in the overall number of women speaking at events last year, this still represented a 14-per-cent rise in six years since the project had begun.
In 2013, only 25 per cent of speakers at events were women. Last year, the proportion of women had increased to 39 per cent (News, 26 January 2018).
Ms Collins said: “While the overall national Christian platform has decreased one per cent to 38 per cent female, this is in part due to there being more events captured within the data. We have seen a significant increase in platform equity for some organisations: in 2018, five events increased the number of women speaking on their platform by over ten per cent. There were also four events during 2018 which had more women speaking than men, suggesting that things are changing, even if there hasn’t been an improvement overall.
“We remain appreciative of the efforts being made by many Christian events to overcome the barriers which leave platforms male-dominated, and in 2018 we were excited to launch the speaker 3:28 database to profile some of the excellent women speakers across the UK, and to resource Christian events in finding a more diverse range of speakers for their events.”
Those events at which the biggest increase in representation has taken place include Ichthus Revive — a London-based church fellowship — whose number of women speakers has risen by 16 per cent. The number of women speakers at HTB Focus and Naturally Supernatural — a Soul Survivor event — has increased by 15 per cent, and those at Greenbelt by ten per cent.
Greenbelt rates as one of those events that offered the most “consistently equitable platforms”, as do the Church and Media Conference, New Wine, and the Baptist Assembly.
There were three smaller events which had a 100-per-cent male line-up of speakers last year: Keswick at Portstewart, the NewDay Youth Workers’ Conference, and New Wine’s Rural Ministry Conference.
Ms Collins began her survey in 2013. The figures were reached by trawling through conference websites and recordings, and speaking to some of the events’ organisers.