Church leaders have a critical role to play in advocacy to promote achievement of gender equality by the year 2030.
This is according to a section of the clerics and religious scholars attending the Women Deliver 2019 Conference in Vancouver Canada.
World Vision estimates that more than 85 per cent of the world is religious and faith leaders are the most trusted in many places.
At a forum to discuss evidence based impacts of engaging faith and religious beliefs to promote gender justice and end violence against women, it was noted that religion can be a source of empowerment or dis-empowerment depending on how texts are interpreted and how institutions are run.
Reverend Josephine Ogola of Hobah Community Restoration Church in Siaya County, Kenya, is among clerics who are on the forefront sensitizing faith leaders at community level.
Reverend Ogola says the approach has been successful in changing the mindset of not only the clergy but communities. “We went deep into the bible to check what it is saying about women, health and adolescents and they realized that they need to come in and advocate for women and girls.
It made the male clergy to start seeing women as people who are worthy and even giving positions for women in their churches, bringing together youth and creating activities to engage them more.”
Yasmine Buguerche director and co-founder Interfaith, Intercultural Institute at the American University in Cairo avers that religious leadership is largely patriarchal and the distinction between religious and societal norm is not defined.
She however encourages women to seek cleric positions because “it’s time for women to claim those roles.”