Much of the work of NBCW is undertaken in the Standing Committees and Working Groups. The objectives of the Committees are to:

  • Provide information on issues relevant to Catholic women.
  • To recommend appropriate action.
  • To prepare responses and submissions to the Government and others (including the media) on issues of interest and concern.

Committees keep a watching brief on their area of expertise. Members come from a wide range of backgrounds and individuals with particular expertise may be co-opted to assist with specific areas of concern. Working Groups may be set up to address specific topics or urgent issues.

There are currently seven committees, and brief descriptions are below. Clink on the link to learn more about the work of each committee. If you feel you could contribute to the work or would like to convey your views Contact Us.

Standing Committees / Working Groups

Ecumenical and Interfaith Committee

Encourages Catholic women to engage in dialogue with women from other churches and faith communities at local and national level.

Convenors: Janet Ward and Cathy Wattebot

We identify current issues, promote and inform discussion and prepare reports and publications. We encourage Catholic women to attend ecumenical and interfaith events. These have been well attended in the Archdiocese of Birmingham. Through the Dicoesan Links, we hope more events will take place elsewhere once the COVID-19 restrictions allow.

One focus recently has been on Receptive Ecumenism – which emphasises receptivity, learning from and listening to those from other Christian denominations. We have been closely involved in a post-doctoral research project on Receptive Ecumenism, as the NBCW Trust part-funded the research post at the Centre of Catholic Studies in Durham University.

One publication resulting from this research, Receiving the Gifts, is a toolkit for exploring Receptive Ecumenism in a number of ways, and is now being republished by the NBCW both in hard copy and as a web document. Unfortunately COVID-19 meant that it has not been possible for workshops to be held.

Another focus for the Ecumenical and Interfaith Committee has been the question of shared Eucharist, which is often a concern among Interfaith couples. We are also soon to publish a leaflet Who can receive communion with us? giving guidance to lay people on when Chrisitians from other churches may receive Communion in a Catholic church.

Committee membership currently includes representation from:

Andante, Association of Interchurch Families, Diocesan Commissions, Ecumenical Forum of European Christian Women, World Day of Prayer.

We also have informal links with Churches Together in England and Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, and belong to two interfaith Networks; Women’s Interfaith Network and Women of Faith Network – Religions for Peace.

Education Committee

The Education Committee considers all aspects of Catholic education, from what is taught in our schools and colleges to how adults come to understand their faith better.

Convenor: Jancintha Bowe

‘Education is a dynamic reality; it is a movement that brings people to light.’ (Pope Francis, Plenary of the Congregation for Catholic Education, February 2020).

As a teacher, Liz Huntley has had extensive experience ‘at the coal face’ on what is currently taught in our schools. But Catholic education is not only about what your child is taught as part of a formal curriculum. Rather it is the whole approach to how we bring up our young people to live in accordance with the gospel. And as adults, we are continually challenged to learn and understand more about our faith and our responsibilities as active Christians.

Pope Francis has stressed the importance of education as an ‘inclusive movement’ and inclusion is an integral part of the Christian saving message. . The Education Committee keeps up to date on a wide spectrum of what is occurring in the UK and the wider Catholic world, and gives input and comments as appropriate to various bodies.

International Committee

Recognising the unique worth of every woman and her equal right to opportunity, inclusion, respect and dignity, committee members work nationally and internationally to challenge discrimination and promote a woman’s right to gender justice.

Convenor: Maureen Meatcher

The values that underpin the work of the International Committee are the recognition of the unique worth of every woman and the promotion of her equal right to opportunity, inclusion, respect, and dignity. We believe it is the right of women to feel secure and safe in their lives and be protected from violence, abuse, and oppression.

We work nationally and internationally to challenge discrimination and promote a woman’s right to gender justice within the context of sustainability and inclusivity. Using the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda we monitor policy nationally & internationally and work to influence its development, implementation, and impact. We are able to do this by working collaboratively with National Alliance of Women’s Organisations (NAWO), and UK Civil Society Women’s Association (UKCSWA) to further NBCW’s aims within the UK context. Our association with these groups enables us to have a greater impact when we attend international events such as the New York annual United Nations Conference Commission on the Status of Women. We have also attended the meeting of the Committee of the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in Geneva.

Science, Environment and Bioethics Committee

As its name suggests, this committee has a remit to look at, and raise awareness of, a very wide range of issues that are of concern to Catholic women.

Convenors: Dr Mary McHugh and Patricia Stoat

The formal committee membership is small, but there is frequent and wide-ranging contact with individuals and organisations with expertise in specific areas. This allows us to stay up to date with developments, to make informed comment and to keep NBCW members informed.

Health has been a particular focus since March 2020, on account of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have written to the Department of Health and Social Care expressing concern on behalf of residents in care homes. We have also urged support for the John Snow Memorandum which makes the case against opening up society too rapidly, relying on ‘natural herd immunity’, rather than a science-based approach.

We have liaised with various bodies on the issue of the care of persons in the critical and terminal phases of life and sought to raise awareness, both among NBCW members and the general public, on sources of information on those areas of interest to concerned Catholics. We have issued a guide on decision-making about the care you may need in the coronavirus pandemic (see Publications), and have highlighted videos and publications which may be of interest on this subject.

With regard to Ethics Artificial Intelligence has been a focus. In Rome, in Feb 2020 at a meeting of the Pontifical Academy for Life on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence, a number of industry and government organisations (Microsoft, IBM, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN, and representatives of the Italian Government ) signed a Charter, a Call for AI Ethics. It calls for ethical principles and guidelines to be used in the field of artificial intelligence so that products that are developed, sold and used actually promote the good of all humanity.

In October, the Committee Convenor Mary McHugh attended a follow-up webinar. The goals of this event were to present concrete solutions to the agri-food business taking into account ethical use of AI. The Holy See emphasised the need to factor in the benefits of AI for small farmers and the poor, rather than just focussing on big agribusinesses. Brad Smith (Microsoft) said they had been alerted to think more widely and to expand the ethics of AI to include sustainability.

Environmental concerns are ongoing. The 2020 November meeting of COP26 (UN Climate Change Conference) was rescheduled for Glasgow in November 2021. We are keen to hear from any one who has a particular interest in this area or for ideas on how NBCW can mark this important conference.

Social Responsibility Committee

Underpinned by Catholic Social Teaching, the work of this committee covers a wide range of topics, including Poverty, Domestic Abuse, Racial Justice, Trafficking and many more. It seeks to articulate the voice of Catholic women in dialogue with the Church and Government.

Convenor: Rose Cartledge

The Social Responsibility Committee covers a wide range of topics giving priority to some as appropriate while monitoring others and responding to Church, government and MPs as required. Each member has a special focus while also taking an interest in the other areas of work.

Set up over 30 years ago we have endeavoured to articulate the voice of Catholic women on Poverty, Domestic Abuse, Racial Justice, Housing and Homelessness, Immigration, Trafficking and Prostitution and Prisons in both Church and society. We also aim to raise the awareness of members of the NBCW on specific issues of current concern to Catholic women so that other NBCW committees, diocesan links and organisations are informed and encouraged to take action.

Gospel values and Catholic Social Teaching underpin all our work and we liaise closely with the Bishops’ Conference, CSAN, Marriage Care, CARJ and other Catholic and secular organisations. For the last ten years we have met physically three times a year at Women at the Well in Kings Cross. During the Coronavirus lockdown we have had virtual meetings by zoom and have increased the number according to the demands of the workload.

Currently, and importantly during lockdown, we have updated our booklet on Raising Awareness of Domestic Abuse with the assistance of Dame Vera Baird, Commissioner for Victims, Marriage Care and CSAN. The electronic version is available on this website and hard copies are available free. We are hoping that all parishes and dioceses will be more aware of this increasing problem in their midst and become safe spaces where victims of domestic abuse will get support and welcome.

Work in the areas of Violence against Women and Racial Justice has become so important that separate NBCW working groups/committees are being set up to enable a greater focus while continuing to liaise closely with this committee as some members will belong to both. We can then address the other current issues of concern while continuing to oversee the promotion and distribution of the DA booklet.

Violence Against Women and Girls Committee

This Committee was set up in October 2020. It provides a space for Catholic women, both practitioners and those with an interest in or experience of the subject to come together to discuss, understand and address issues of gender violence.

Acting Convenor: Nikki Dhillon Keane

Violence against women and girls (VAWG) covers all manifestations of violence including, but not limited to, sexual, physical, spiritual, financial, emotional and psychological abuse.

Our mission is to bring Catholic women’s voices, experience and expertise on VAWG to the fore. We recognise and welcome collaboration with all women, from all backgrounds.

We plan and undertake specific (and strategic) Catholic social action on VAWG issues as opportunities arise and resources allow.

Women in the Church Committee

Women in the Church has recently re-formed. it is a platform to celebrate and empower Catholic women in England and Wales.

Convenor: Helen Burgess

This committee has recently re-formed. We are a dynamic and creative group who want to enable the Women of the Church at this time to listen to one another and share their voice. We hope to provide resources to feed us spiritually and theologically drawing from a wide repertoire of female ecclesiologists. We welcome the opportunities presented by the forthcoming synod and hope to embrace this in the contributions we make. New members and ideas are most welcome on this committee!