THE Bishop of Sherborne shared how her experience on an East Hull housing estate helped her find the strength to become one of the first women bishops.

The Rt Revd Karen Gorham is calling for people to support Christian Aid’s Christmas Appeal to help women reach their full potential.

This year’s appeal is highlighting how gifts and actions can help women tackle prejudice, oppression and discrimination around the world.

Bishop Karen said: “The statistics about unfulfilled lives for women across so many cultures are sobering, but at Christmas we celebrate the courage and determination of Mary and are reminded of our opportunity to help more women thrive and not just survive.

“As we think about the gifts we can give this Christmas, perhaps the most precious thing we can give is hope – that might come as a word of encouragement or a space to be heard, or perhaps it is a financial gift to a charity such as Christian Aid, empowering women and their families across the world.”

Mothers, such as Ranjita aged 30 from Rajasthan, India, cleaned latrines and sewers by hand from the age of nine – but with the help of a Christian Aid-funded self-help group, she discovered she was entitled to a government compensation grant and help to find a dignified occupation. She is now earning a living as a tailor and able to send her daughter to school.

Bishop Karen continued: “I know what it meant and means to me to receive support and advice from those around me who didn’t see the barriers in my way that others saw. For women such as Ranjita a gift not only changed her life but helped break the generational cycle of poverty, allowing her and her daughter to see themselves differently.”

The Rt Revd Karen Gorham said that being confronted with the issues that women in particular faced, and the conversations she had with them in her mid-twenties, helped spur her on to break cultural norms and become part of a ground-breaking generation of Church of England women bishops.