Women’s worn-out shoes are to be the focus of an action in central Auckland and Wellington organised by a group working for gender equality in the leadership of the Catholic Church.
“Pink Shoes into the Vatican” is an ambitious public art work to be displayed on pavements leading to the cathedrals in central Auckland and in Wellington on September 18, the Sunday before Women’s Suffrage Day.
The event, already postponed from September, 2021, the anniversary of the granting of the vote to women in this country, was moved to March 13, 2022, a few days after International Women’s Day. Now the organisers are hoping the event will be able to go ahead in September.
Meanwhile, they are calling on women to donate their old shoes for the installation in September. They suggest writing a couple of sentences on a ticket attached to the shoes describing how you have worked (and walked) for the Church over the years. The organisers intend to have collection boxes placed in the foyers of most churches in both dioceses.
A media release from organisers, who call themselves “Be the Change, Catholic Church, Aotearoa” states that the suffrage anniversary shows the Church is 129 years behind the country in recognising the leadership skills of women.
On September 18 the women will place the shoes, some painted pink, in an art display from Te Hā O Hine Place to St Patrick’s Cathedral in Wyndham Street, central Auckland. The Wellington installation will start in the afternoon from the steps of Parliament, and lead up Molesworth and Hill Streets to Sacred Heart Cathedral.
They are hoping Cardinal John Dew will again be able to meet the women outside the Wellington cathedral and receive a “suffrage charter” of requests about participation in decision-making at all levels.
The shoes signify the largely unpaid work women have done for the Church throughout the ages which will be recorded in short vignettes accompanying the shoes.
They say women are often the majority of any Catholic congregation and are usually the ones organising the various tasks that need to be done at every liturgical celebration.
Yet, the Catholic Church continues the injustice of refusing to recognise women’s worth by denying them equality in leadership roles, the organisers stated.