Partnerships to enhance gender equality theology

Participants at UnitingWorld’s October 2018 workshop. Photo credit: Pacific Women Support Unit.

In an effort to broaden its engagement and examine collaboration between faith-based organisations and wider civil society, UnitingWorld recently held a workshop to discuss partnership with Suva-based non-government organisations.

The one-day workshop was part of UnitingWorld’s new Gender Equality Theology – Institutional Transformation (GET-IT) project. GET-IT, funded through Australia’s Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development (Pacific Women) program, aims to improve women’s safety in families and communities and increase their opportunities for representation in positions of church leadership and decision making. The project recognises the vital role that strong partnerships play in realising gender equality commitments in the Pacific Islands region.

‘UnitingWorld is looking forward to working more closely with civil society organisations that share our vision of gender equality in the Pacific,’ said Megan Calcaterra, UnitingWorld International Programs Manager and facilitator of the workshop. ‘There are so many organisations working in the area of ending violence against women and girls and the possibilities of cross-learning and sharing are endless. We’re excited about drawing on the expertise of our civil society counterparts to further promote the message of Gender Equality Theology.’

Gender Equality Theology is re-examining biblical messaging about the equality of women and men, challenging patriarchal gender interpretations and highlighting the inherent dignity for all founded on Biblical equality. UnitingWorld has developed a Gender Equality Theology Training Manual, grounded in the experiences of Pacific theologians, for Pacific church leaders. The workshop included sessions on the toolkit, which participants said would be useful for their own work:

‘It’s a good starting point for young people to come to the realisation [of] the relationship between gender equality and human dignity from a biblical perspective,’ said Josaia Tokoni, Fiji Council of Social Services’ Program Officer Volunteer.

‘I think it is a good entry point for civil society organisations to engage, particularly when we want to dismantle gender-based violence with a theological perspective,’ said Mamta Chand, Fiji Women’s Rights Movement’s Young Women’s Program Officer. ‘It is also critical to engage other religious institutions [through] this platform.’

Ms Calcaterra said the workshop was a valuable opportunity to gather feedback and generate ideas to strengthen their messaging and explore communication channels like edutainment and mass media.

The workshop was held on 25 October 2018 in Suva, Fiji.

Find out more about UnitingWorld’s Gender Equality Theology work in the Pacific region:
https://www.unitingworld.org.au/projects/partnering-women-for-change/

Access Theology of Gender Equality resources here:
https://www.unitingworld.org.au/gendertheology/