A Question of Gender Justice
The role of women in decision-making indifferent areas of Church and Society
Summary of Proceedings and Insights INSeCT 2017 Bangalore
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At the meeting in Belo Horizonte 2014 INSeCT decided to push forward a three-year research project dedicated to the issue of gender justice, especially the participation of women in decision making processes in church and in society. In this way INSeCT aimed to answer Pope Francis’ call in “Evangelii gaudium” (Nos 103-104) “to create still broader
opportunities for a more incisive female presence in the Church” as well as in society.
At this year’s meeting in Bangalore INSeCT dedicated part of its meeting to this research project. Presentations from all five regions, (Asia-Pacific, South America, Africa, Europe and North America, respectively) followed by two sessions of reflection and discussion enabled us to map a way forward. This brief document presents:
The main points of these presentations
Reflections, insights and challenges that they provoked;
Possible ways forward
I. Five presentations
Representatives of the five regions each gave an overview of their research projects and shared the main insights as follows – the three main issues of each region are given below:
Asia Pacific [Kochurani Abraham]
Women of Asian-Pacific societies, within the wide diversity of contexts which the area includes, are finding their voices heard in the secular sphere in spite of the patriarchal cultural conditioning of their particular contexts.
The Church in much of the Asia-Pacific Region Church lags behind the secular sphere on the question of gender justice. There is a wide gap between its statements and praxis, which often lack clarity of process in its work towards inclusive partnerships.
The potentially prophetic role of INSeCT’s member societies in the Church as a catalyst for change, in providing theological insights into reimagining gender justice is being explored by some of the local associations (ACTA).
South America [María Marcela Mazzini/Virgina R. Azcuy]
The representatives of South America chose the approach of a biographical perspective, which points out the nexus between some of the milestones of their lives with the proposed topic for this INSeCT Conference:
Feminism seems inseparable from an appropriate theological understanding of and debate on gender issues. Such refers firstly to the dignity of women and to the fundamental equality of all human beings. The feminist debate, particularly in Latin America and the Caribbean as regions noticeably marked by inequality in distinctive ways, must be located in the field of social justice and the wider struggle for human rights.
Based on these fundamental assumptions, feminism can function as a global and local historical movement, theoretical and practical, diversified, in the search of promoting women’s human dignity – such aims related to the wider care of every creature and of creation in general.
Within the feminist framework, the gender category emerges to explain how a gender- dominated understanding of women operates as a cause of oppression and subordination in a patriarchal or androcentric vision of the socio-cultural system. The structures and teaching of the Catholic Church reflects these in a unique, sometimes even paradoxical way: we encounter the use of gender perspective as well as criticism of alleged “gender ideology”
Africa [Nontando Hadebe]
The African representative focused on the intersection and mutual dependence of Culture, Constitutions (human rights), and Christianity (Religion) in the lives of African Catholic women, in the light of which she affirmed that
All questions regarding the welfare and status of women in Africa are explained within the wider framework of culture, which includes conceptions and constructions of masculinity as entailing dominance over women. This makes it more difficult to question the patriarchal culture from a human rights perspective which is regarded as “western” and “neo-colonial”.
The triple oppression of women in the constitution, due to their identity as black Africans, as women whose legal status was that of minors, within an economic system based on mining, industry and large scale farming that favored men over women, is a result of colonialism. Therefore, a critical analysis of culture that takes into account the historical past of colonizatio