Religious leaders speak up for gender equality
V4C Case Study
Religious leaders are more gender aware, and are taking action in the space they influence.
From the outset of the programme, V4C has been working with a group of ‘key influencers’ – including religious leaders (RLs) and institutions – that it regards as critical to achieving a change in attitudes towards gender equality and women’s empowerment. Up to this point, there were few opportunities for RLs to discuss the misconceptions, biases and socio-cultural practices which disempower women and girls or explore practical ways to address these issues in their work and personal lives. RLs who wanted to speak up about gender equality found it difficult to do so in a way that they thought was consistent with the teachings of their religion.
Since February 2015, V4C has facilitated gender and masculinity training for 276 Christian and Muslim religious leaders, and provided follow-up support in the shape of review meetings where RLs can continue to share and learn, and brokering meetings to help secure high-level endorsement.
The gender and masculinity training for religious leaders encourages participants to examine and discuss their own values with regards to gender, the nature of gender roles and stereotypes, definitions and types of violence, and what constitutes healthy and unhealthy relationships.
Since attending the training, participants have reported a wide range of positive changes, to their own awareness and behaviour, and in their ability to influence others on the issue. RLs speak of being profoundly moved, of understanding gender concepts for the first time, seeing gender relations in a new way, and seeing the relationship between culture and religion in a different light. Many of the RLs report that that they not only acquired new knowledge, but they also felt moved to act – in their personal lives and through their religious teachings.