VI Latin American Congress on Gender and Religion

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By Niels Christian Hviid Gade, DanChurchAid Intern

Members of Side by Side attended the VI Latin American Congress on Gender and Religion in São Leopoldo, where representatives from around the world gathered to discuss and articulate the issues that surround gender and religion across Latin America. The event, the latest in a series since 2009, was attended by some 500 attendees from around the world, including Side by Side Steering Group member, Faustina Nillan and International Coordinator, Rachel Tavernor.

The congress, hosted by Faculdades EST, came at a time of continuous and growing push back against women’s rights and gender work across the world stage. Conservative and populist movements have seen a rise in momentum on the political platform, accompanied by regressive views on gender equality and diversity. Fundamentalisms, including political, economic and religious, are contributing to backlashes against gender justice and the people who defend human rights.

Some religious institutions have created patriarchal structures for millennia, emphasised doctrine and tradition above all, and syndicated the interpretative possibilities of scripture. The VI Latin American Congress was for many an opportunity and mechanism whereby researchers, theologians, religious leaders and likeminded defenders of gender equality could gather to reflect, discuss and articulate the issues that surround them.

Faculdades EST, located in Brazil, one of the leading research and education centres in Latin America, was established in 1946 as a theological school, but has since expanded as an institution to include research in social sciences, languages and arts, in addition to undergraduate and graduate programmes. The congress was organised by the in-house Gender and Religion Program and the Gender Research Group, the latter being a central group that celebrates its 20th year anniversary this year. Over the years, it has become a well-respected space for meeting, debating and producing knowledge within gender studies and feminist theology.

With the issues of theology and gender inequality in mind, the goal to develop, interchange and cooperate knowledge were given the following, overarching thematic framework:

Vulnerability. Resistance. Justice.

More than an aloof sociological concept that considers the underlying issues behind susceptible minority groups, vulnerability was understood as encompassing the shared vulnerabilities of the human condition. Resistance, meanwhile, was how these vulnerabilities were not exploited, such as through the strengthening of feminist and gender research or the cooperation of civil society movements. Finally, justice ought to be the point of emergence of the previous two – as the hope and scope of actions that can ultimately lead to gender justice.

Side by Side hosted a workshop during the congress, which focused on growing a faith movement for gender justice. This was an opportunity to share some of our challenges and achievements. As well as listen and learn about the different contexts, and gender justice initiatives across the region.

Posted by: Side by Side | Monday, December 23rd, 2019
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