Spirituality, religion or faith-based beliefs significantly influence the lives of more than 85 percent of the global population. Such belief systems and associated practices can, in turn, strongly influence believers’ norms and value systems, both positively and negatively. While a critical evaluation of the roles played by faith-based belief systems in shaping gender norms is essential, it is also important to work with people of faith to promote positive interpretations of spiritual, faith and religious values, supportive of parity and justice.
Given the profound influence of faith and religion on human development, socialization and on the traditions and cultures of the world, an increasing engagement between gender equality organizations and activists and faith-based communities or leaders has become common. This engagement, while still on a relatively small scale, has opened a window of opportunity to explore ways that faith and religion may promote, rather than hinder, gender equality. However, despite the promise of faith-based approaches to gender equality, there is extremely limited availability of systematic review or systematized evidence to support this work.
MenEngage Alliance and Tearfund, organised a two-day consultation in Washington D.C. in August 2016, to collectively explore and gain better understanding of faith-based approaches to transforming masculinities for gender justice. Twenty-two gender experts, including some faith leaders, from within and outside the Alliance and faith-based organizations, came together to share experiences, explore lessons learned from working with faith-based approaches for gender equality and begin to develop a joint agenda.
Click here for a PDF of the summary report of the consultation.
MenEngage Alliance extends its deepest thanks to Prabu Deepan and Veena O’Sullivan of Tearfund for their invaluable technical and financial support in organizing the consultation; without your enthusiastic collaboration, this event would not have occurred.
The Global Secretariat would like to express its gratitude to the representatives of MenEngage regional networks from Africa, Middle East, North America and South Asia, and of UN Women, and the experts from various faith-based/inspired organizations for their support and active participation in the consultation: Amy Gopp (Rev.) of We Will Speak Out/US coalition; Anthony Keedi of ABAAD – Resource Centre for Gender Equality; Bafana Khumalo of Sonke Gender Justice; Bilquis Tahira of Shirakat Partnership for Development; Chrystal Corman of World Faiths Development Dialogue; Danielle Robertson of the U.S. Institute of Peace; Kirsten Laursen Muth of Episcopal Relief & Development; Negar Abay of Baha’I International Community/Baha’is of the United States; Shafferan Sonneveld of Muslims for Progressive Values; Shereen El Feki of Promundo US; Susan Heyward of the U.S. Institute of Peace; and Tim Shand of IRH/Georgetown University. MenEngage Alliance also would like to thank Sinead Nolan, Laxman Belbase and Oswaldo Montoya for pulling together this report.
MenEngage Alliance looks forward to taking its dialogue with faith-based leaders and organizations – especially in collaboration with feminist faith leaders – ahead with the continued support of expert members within the Alliance. MenEngage will further build on its members’ ongoing innovative and locally-relevant work to engage individuals and institutions working with faith-based strategies and approaches. With this, we will continue strengthening our collective efforts and voices to counter religious and other forms of faith-informed fundamentalisms.