Women and gender
‘So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.’ (Gen 1:27)
‘Many women were also there, looking on from a distance; they had followed Jesus from Galilee and provided for him’. (Matt 27:55)
‘Greet Prisca and Aquila, who work with me in Christ Jesus … Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives who were in prison with me; they are prominent among the apostles…’ (Rom 16:3,7)
Millennium Development Goal No. 3: Promote gender equality and empower women
– Endorsed by the Lambeth Conferences of 1998 and 2008
International Anglican Women’s Network Mission Statement (extract):
Our Vision: To be a bold and prophetic voice for Anglican women throughout the Anglican Communion and in the wider world.
Our Purpose: To enable and empower all women of the Anglican Communion to work cooperatively at national, provincial and communion-wide levels to strengthen the ministries of women in God’s world and to ensure women are influential and equal participants throughout the entire Anglican Communion.
As far as God is concerned every human being is equally important, equally deserving of dignity and respect. We are equally made in his image. As St Paul writes: “There is no longer Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” Jesus preached a kingdom in which every individual should have the opportunity to grow into the person they were created to be. … The gospel should be liberating for everyone. Men and women alike should be freed from narrow stereotyping, and find freedom to live together creatively, joyfully, knowing that all our differences, whether of gender or personality or race or culture, all serve to enrich our common life. Sexuality and gender are always sensitive subjects about which to talk, and this has especially been the case in church. Yet these are increasingly the subtext of life around us, not least in advertising and the wider media, who give a very narrow view of what it is to be attractive and successful. Our message is that in God’s eyes, we ourselves, and every one else whom we encounter, is his beloved, and significant to him.
– Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane (excerpt from ‘Reflections on Faith and Gender’
sent to the clergy and lay leaders of the Diocese of Cape Town, 2006)
The task team identifies six strategic goals:
- Combating gender-based violence
- Offering counselling and support
- Using inclusive language
- Raising awareness about human sexuality
- Forming church policy
- Sourcing funding
To ensure the sustainable implementation of these goals, the task team reports that the Women and Gender priority will form the basis of the Provincial Gender Desk’s ministry for the period under review.
Combating gender-based violence
Four dimensions are highlighted:
- Raising awareness about domestic and sexual violence and human trafficking
- Education, training, and developing victim empowerment practitioners, focusing particularly on young people, rural women, clergy, and other local leaders
- Developing capacity through diocesan gender desk coordinators and Archdeaconry-based focus groups
- Developing resources – a web site, brochures, training materials, liturgical resources
Counselling and support
Here the task team focuses on training diocesan teams of voluntary lay counsellors to assist the clergy.
To promote inclusive language, the task team proposes that a revised Holy Eucharist service booklet be developed; that the use of inclusive language versions of the Bibles be encouraged; and that the Provincial Gender Desk and Provincial Liturgical Committee work together to create resources for inclusive worship.
The task team identifies four aspects:
- Ongoing sensitising of clergy and lay ministers on issues of human sexuality
- Developing training/dialogue models, so that there is effective pastoral care
- Developing materials to be used during training, and setting up training programmes
- Distributing relevant brochures and training materials
Three areas are highlighted here:
- Bringing the Provincial Canons in line with changed gender reality
- Ensuring gender diversity in ministry leadership structures
- Encouraging dioceses to budget for gender ministries
To accomplish the above goals, the task team proposes that the Provincial Gender Desk identify potential donors, to supplement funding from Province.