Celebrating International Women’s Day: PYC chair Phoebe Pryce

March 8, 2024

On International Women’s Day, members of the Scottish Episcopal Church today share their perspectives as we celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.

The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality, and this year’s campaign theme is ‘Inspire Inclusion’.

Here, we feature a perspective from the Provincial Youth Committee, through its new chair Phoebe Pryce.

“I was recently appointed the chair of the Provincial Youth Committee, having been a representative on it for Edinburgh since 2019,” writes Phoebe. “While my time on it has obviously been disrupted by Covid, I have always valued the opportunity the PYC has given me in speaking up about the issues that mattered to me. I first had the opportunity to address Synod in June 2019, as a 14-year-old girl still new to the structures and working of the Province.

“The opportunity to stand and speak to Bishops, Clergy, and Laity from across Scotland about the experiences and roles of young people in our congregations, while supported by my peers and youth leaders, was hugely empowering.

The inspiration of a plethora of young women who have come before me has directly led to my volunteering as chair of PYC. The impression my peers left on me after my first Synod remains with me five years later. I particularly remember the inspiring words of Ley-anne Forsyth, who had that same year attended the UN commission on the Status of Women in New York on behalf of the Anglican communion, and spoke in depth about the abuse continuing to face young women and girls around the world. With the restriction of reproductive rights seen in the USA since then, her words remain hauntingly prophetic of the world facing us today.

“Later that day, I watched as outgoing chair Rebecca Cromwell chaired a meeting of the PYC, alongside Secretary Becki Northover, while everyone else in the room, including the Primus who was sat beside me in the corner, followed and respected the leadership being shown by these two young women. Since then, I have watched many other inspirational women within Provincial youth circles go on to speak about the issues close to them, attend international conferences, and lead in creating safe and welcoming spaces for all.

“In an institution which remains to this day male-dominated in leadership, these female voices have inspired and encouraged me to speak, both in committee meetings and to Synod, about the issues important to me and other young women within Scotland. The support and nurture I have experienced, both within the PYC, and at the annual youth camp ‘Yeek’, have encouraged me that equality of leadership, influence, and opportunity can be achieved within the SEC, and that it will be championed by the youth.

“I have yet to find a space within these youth-led circles where I have felt unsafe, unheard, or unsupported, and this has been invaluable to me as I have grown up in a wider society still wrestling with gender equality and gender-based violence. I am hugely grateful for the platform the PYC has provided me, and I will continue to fight to ensure the voices of young women, and their concerns, are heard throughout the SEC as we face a troubling future for women’s rights in the UK and across the world.”

More on International Women’s Day:

A clergy perspective from Rev Rosie Addis

A lay person’s perspective from Dr Elaine Cameron