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date: 18 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Radical equality between women and men—being ‘helpsmeet’ to one another as disciples of Jesus Christ—was an early distinguishing feature of the Quaker movement. As travelling ministers and preachers, Quaker women were yokemates with each other and with male partners, sharing in the joys and the persecutions. They established separate Women’s Meetings to focus on concerns not always addressed by the male leadership. When the movement grew and changed, the leadership skills of Quaker women expanded to include reform efforts such as anti-slavery agitation, as well as mission and service work at home, and in distant lands. In each era, Quaker women have contended with the prevailing gender ideologies, most recently challenging traditions from a post-colonial perspective. The friendships of Quaker women remain central to their work in the world, as they discover in each generation how to remain ‘helpsmeet’.

Keywords: gender ideology, Women’s Meetings, yokemates, anti-slavery, mission, feminism, post-colonial, helpsmeet

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