Born in 1829, Catherine’s social activism began early in life. At 12 years old, she became concerned with the effects of alcoholism on the community and took up the role as Secretary for the Juvenile Temperance Society. Though it was rare for women in Victorian England to have a public voice, Catherine would write articles for temperance magazines, sharing her thoughts on benefits of temperance.
After marrying William Booth, Catherine and her husband began their ministry in service to the vulnerable and marginalized. It was during this time she found her calling and began preaching in public. Though it was largely unheard of to see, let alone hear, women speaking in public, Catherine made it her mission to preach on faith, poverty, service, and equality for women.
Catherine was often confronted with public backlash, which included the distribution of pamphlets criticizing women in the pulpit. Undeterred, Catherine wrote a 10,000 word rebuttal asserting equality for women in ministry. A noted orator, preacher, and social activist, Catherine would soon be known as the “Mother of The Salvation Army.” She would spend the remainder of her life speaking out and working to alleviate poverty.
Following Catherine Booth’s example, The Salvation Army continues to commit itself eliminating poverty and providing solutions for women, men, and children who are facing barriers to a better life.
This International Women’s Day, let us honour the achievements of women who “disturbed the present,” and work together “to better the future.”