Side by Side interviews Rev. Domnic Misolo

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This month, we interview Rev. Domnic Misolo, who is a Kenyan citizen and ordained priest in the Anglican Church of Kenya. Rev. Misolo is the founder of Ekklesia Foundation for Gender Education (EFOGE), a registered faith based non-governmental organization advocating for gender justice and equality from a faith perspective. EFOGE works with faith groups and community organizations through empowering faith actors, women leaders and youth groups on gender justice and equality within Eastern Africa.

In August 2019, EFOGE hosted “Faith and Gender Justice International Conference” in Kigali, Rwanda with 98 leaders from eight African countries and other parts of the world to explore gender lenses and power dynamics within faith and religious communities for equality and justice for everyone.

How did you become a gender advocate?

I came to know about the need for justice and equality for women and girls during my seminary education at St. Paul’s University (Kenya) in the year 2009 when I came across the academic journal about Bible, Faith & Gender. As an Anglican priest, I followed traditional evangelical spirituality that views Scripture (Bible) as authoritative and actual God’s breath without criticism. Being molded in the African culture (Luo Tribe) where women are viewed as inferior and rated with children, my attitude from childhood and in the ministry (as a priest) was heavily influenced by that context and worldview.

In my pastoral visitations, pulpit sermons, and biblical interpretation, the view that men are superior and above women was eminent throughout my ministry. I did not know that my understanding of the Bible was influenced by a patriarchal culture as socializing people and their relationships in the society through male pre-eminence.

I deeply reflected back on my church and life in the community, I was challenged, and my pre-conceived worldview was largely questioned. I started to rethink on the fact that men and women are equal and that can it be true.

I raised many questions that surely opened my mind. Some of the questions were; Is it true that God created man original and woman second to man? How did a just God choose to create one to be a superior (man) and the other to be an inferior (woman) giving them corresponding status and authority? Did he create them using different materials or substance? Do we have the power to influence our sex before birth and how can we pray to God to be born a man and not a woman?

What is your vision for gender justice?

Ekklesia Foundation for Gender Education (EFOGE) identifies patriarchy and its ideologies as the main cause of sexual and gender based violence. This is because it gives all powers and privileges to one gender (male) against the female gender which drives inequalities and breads violence against women and girls based on gender. Patriarchy is the main cause of sexual violence, abject poverty in the sub-Sahara Africa, and the main cause for political instability in many parts of the world.

Patriarchy finds its roots and power in religious and cultural traditions and practices. In the sub-Sahara Africa, about 80% of people identify themselves with a religious group and therefore faith actors have the biggest and urgent role to help address gender injustices in order to bring much needed equality and justice for women and girls. The main challenge is that a huge percentage of faith actors and religious groups in Africa still teach and model male leadership and authority as God’s ideal. Hence, endorsing patriarchy as a way of life, denying women and girls equal privileges, sense of worth/belonging, and opportunities in equal leadership and decision making in the society. Wide spread misinterpretation of religious (sacred) texts, including Christian scriptures undermines worth and dignity for women and girls as equal human beings made in God’s image. It is due to these gender gaps that EFOGE exist in its Vision and Mission to advocate for gender justice and equality for women and girls, men and boys, from a faith perspective.

How is Ekklesia Foundation for Gender Education (EFOGE) working for gender justice?

EFOGE advances three main programs/activities to challenge patriarchy and its devastating effects on women and girls, boys and men, and these includes;

i). Gender Reconciliation Leadership Training – Capacity building and empowerment targeting key faith leaders, women groups, and community youth groups on equality and gender justice. EFOGE have developed a resource model/manual on gender reconciliation that was successfully piloted in Rwanda.

ii). Annual Events – EFOGE hosts annual international conferences that provides opportunities for safe space for dialogue and conversation with faith leaders, researchers, educators, students, gender and civil society groups on issues of gender injustice and sexual violence, and the role of faith actors and religious communities in ending violence against women and girls.

iii) Educational Support – EFOGE also support and champion education of young women and girls who are mostly survivors of domestic and sexual violence by providing psycho-social support and scholarship opportunities for learning and studies. Through these approaches and activities, EFOGE is enabling change of attitude and mind sets of leaders and opinion makers, and is contributing towards empowerment of women and girls in Africa. We influence communities and social institutions to treat women and girls differently as equal human beings, for mutual respect, equal opportunities and privileges, and for peaceful co-existence.

What are the greatest challenges that you face in your work and how can others support you?

While we have deep passion and motivation to continue engaging faith communities in Africa on gender justice and equality, EFOGE have identified challenges that need your prayers and these include;

i). Strategic Partnerships – To scale up and impact many communities in Africa with lasting change, we need partners that would be able to work with us on strategic points. We also need funding partners that would be interested to work towards eliminating root causes of violence against women and girls with faith communities.

ii). Again, changing mindsets, attitudes, and deep rooted cultural and religious traditions on gender justice needs time and patience. It requires combined efforts, networking and collaboration with like-minded organizations. We have discovered that many faith actors and religious communities lack knowledge and resources on how to go about gender justice and this might be one reason why some faith communities continue to be resistant towards gender justice and equality.

 

Thank you to Rev. Domnic Misolo for sharing his insights and work. You can read more about EFOGE’s through their website:

http://efogeinternational.org

 

If you would like to be interviewed by Side by Side, please contact us: info@sidebysidegender.org

Posted by: Rachel Tavernor | Monday, October 21st, 2019
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