A group of female theologians from different churches in Pakistan have gathered to discuss equal opportunities for men and women to participate in mission and witness. The national consultation on “Women Doing Theology” brought together 33 female theologians from a range of Christian groups, including the Church of Pakistan, last week in Lahore. Addressing the question “what it means by ‘doing theology in Asian Context, especially in Pakistan’, the participants said that “men and women are equals before God, both bearing the image of God.”
The continued: “God calls upon both men and women to fulfil the roles and responsibilities specially designed for them. However, in all spheres of Asian society, women are being dominated and de-womanised. In the Church and society women are being treated with bias”.
The participants challenged the gender based discrimination in the church and society, and said that “biblical and theological exegesis often grant men fuller participation than women in the life of the church [and] restricts the role of women to inferior levels”.
They said: “Women theologians are expected to play a crucial role to nurture the prophetic voice of women at all levels. Doing theology that empowers and liberates women in the Church and society will ensure upholding the dignity and equality of women in the Church and society.”
The Church of Pakistan’s Ayra Inderyas gave a presentation on “women and gender equality”, during which she said that: “Gender-based violence against women has its deep roots in a patriarchal social structure of Pakistan. It is important for the churches to address the crucial issues women in Pakistan are facing, and a gender sensitisation education is essential in Pakistan’s Church and society.”
In a presentation on “empowering leadership and recognising women’s strength”, the executive director of the Christian Study Centre in Rawalpindi, Jennifer Jag Jivan, invited the women theologians to meditate on their strength and weakness.
“From the very beginning of church history, women fulfilled a vital role in the churches,” she said. “Women have passion and warm hearts to listen to others’ voices and understand others’ needs. Women should strengthen their spirituality and develop talents.”
The participants affirmed that re-reading the Bible requires us to “act for justice and interpret the Bible in a way that affirms the rights and dignity of women, children and all marginalised segments of society,” the ecumenical group Christian Council of Asia (CCA), which organised the consultation, said.
Women Doing Theology is one of CCA’s “strategic programme priorities to promote a cooperative process of study, analysis, and reflection among committed young Asian women theologians to address pertinent Asian issues and contextual theologising from a feminist perspective,” they said.
In addition to the Church of Pakistan, the participants were drawn from the Salvation Army, Presbyterian Church in Pakistan, the Roman Catholic Church, Gujranwala Theological Seminary, St Thomas Theological Seminary, Christian Study Centre, Open Theological Seminary, the Maktaba-e Anaveem Pakistan, and the People’s Forum for Contextual Theology.
This article was amended on 1 March 2018 to remove a quote that a participant had stated: “Pakistan has been ranked as the third most dangerous place in the world for women.” We have been informed that the participant did not say this. We apologise for any confusion.