The Christian church’s track record on looking after women has not generally been great, which is a big surprise given that women were there at the resurrection of Jesus and given the task of proclamation, and women were there at Pentecost being empowered to share.

And it’s also a surprise because of Proverbs 31, which is so wonderfully celebratory about a wife. Her character is commended with comment on her trustworthiness, her diligence, her perseverance, her buying skills, her generosity to the poor, her flexibility in time of trouble, her cheerfulness, her speech and the way the whole family delights in her qualities.

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No doubt this passage seeks to inspire young girls and who may wonder what kind of woman they need to be but, in a patriarchal age where men tended to take the lead, this passage is a wonderful preparation for the kind of involvement that women would have in the mission of the Church going forward.

Although there has been a degree of improvement for women in recent decades, many would argue that they are not treated equally, even if the laws and business principles suggest they should be.

Men need women and women need men if society is to flourish, and the mutual respect between the two underlining the unique contributions that each makes, without being patronising, can ensure that the churches, the families and the ministries that we’re involved in, will go from strength to strength.

Micha Jazz is Director of Resources at Waverley Abbey, UK.