Friday, 30 May 2014

Josephine Butler

A 6 year old girl falls from a bannister at home in and dies. That's what happened in 1863 to Evangeline, the only daughter and youngest child of Josephine Butler and her husband George.

It seems that her grief about Eva's death provided part of Josephine's motivation to help people whose pain might be greater than hers.

As a feminist, Christian and social reformer she became a significant woman in the history of Victorian social justice campaigns, practical social work and feminism.

She has been described here like this:
"Josephine Butler was one of the most revolutionary social reformers of the nineteenth century. She challenged the inconsistent and hypocritical standards prevalent at that time especially where they unjustly disadvantaged women. She campaigned vigorously against the sexual exploitation of vulnerable women and children and strove for legislative reform to provide some degree of protection, equality and justice.Josephine Butler worked tirelessly for the disadvantaged in Liverpool, opening her own home to women in need and single mothers with children. She became internationally known and respected for her work and achievements."
You can read a brief introduction to her life on the Josephine Butler Memorial Trust site.

She is one of the women of history that I most admire. I have previously written about her in God and One Woman make a majority and referred to her work in supporting higher education for women in Women Bishops and the lessons of history.

Along with Joan of Arc and Apolo Kivebulaya (what an interesting mix!) the Church of England remembers and give thanks for her today. Here's the Common Worship prayer for today that relates to Josephine Butler:

God of compassion and love, 
by whose grace your servant Josephine Butler 
followed in the way of your Son 
in caring for those in need; 
help us like her to work with strength 
for the restoration of all to the dignity and freedom 
of those created in your image; 
through Jesus Christ our Saviour, 
who is alive and reigns with you, 
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, 
one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Image Credit: wikipedia

2 comments:

  1. Ah, one of my heroines. A remarkable woman who was unafraid to be unpopular and outrage generally accepted ideas of suitable involvement for women.

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