Certificate Course on Gender Justice | Theme: PROPHETIC ECCLESIA: CATALYST OF GENDER JUSTICE

Brief Report

Certificate Course on Gender Justice
Theme: PROPHETIC ECCLESIA: CATALYST OF GENDER JUSTICE

National Council of Churches in India | Women Concerns Ministry

13th-17th June 2018 | Vishranti nilayam, Bangalore |Organized in partnership with CSI Women’s Fellowship | Australian Church Women Inc.

Trainees with the General Secretary of CSI Women’s Fellowship, Rev. Synthia Chopra after Valedictory Service.

Context:

Gender based violence has become a pandemic in India. It is one of the major national problems; however it is not adequately addressed as a major problem either by the Government or by civil society. The worst victims of such violence are girls, women, and children. India is the 4th dangerous country for women to live in and for the girl child to survive. 53 percent children get sexually abused in India (that means one out of two children). Though girls are vulnerable, boys also face sexual abuse. Gender based violence violates human rights, and harms and impoverishes communities, reinforces other forms of violence throughout societies, restricts economic growth and undermines development. Violence on women in India often take on inhuman and intolerable dimensions in the form of domestic violence, eve teasing, sexual assaults, rape, psychological  abuse, dowry burning, honour killing, acid attack, harassment in work place, human trafficking etc. The culture of rape is a common phenomenon in India and marital rape is not recognized by society as rape. Gender based violence has its roots in spiritual poverty. It is in this context Women Concerns Ministry (earlier known as All India Council of Christian Women) of National Council of Churches in India as a part of its Ecumenical and Spiritual Formation Program has evolved ‘Training the Trainers Program – Certificate Course on Gender Justice’.

This three-year programme, which is supported by Australian Church Women Inc through Winifred Kiek Scholarship Trust especially for young women, and through local contributions from Women’s Fellowships and churches (to support scholarships for male candidates) will be conducted between June 2017 and June 2019.

Aim of the three-year programme: Ecumenical and Spiritual Formation in Gender Justice to intercept the culture of Gender based violence and build inclusive Just communities

Objectives:

  • To nurture praxis oriented spirituality among trainees to end gender based violence and build inclusive just communities
  • To create awareness and enhance skills to analyze root causes and various dynamics of gender based violence, gender justice issues, geopolitical trends etc.
  • To equip trainees with techniques of prophetic diakonia, advocacy and evolve new paradigms of mission and evangelization to overcome gender based, violence and promote human rights of girls, children , women and promote women in decision making process in church and society.
  • To create awareness among trainees about various polices, UN goals, campaigns in local, national and global level and the process and methodology of implementation of such goals, policies to end gender based violence.

The first Gender Justice Course was conducted in Aizwal in Mizoram State in partnership with Women’s Fellowship of Presbyterian Church in India. The second Gender Justice Course, which is reported below, was conducted in Bangalore at Vishranti Nilayam during June 13-17, 2018.

 Participants: There were 32 participants, which included Ordained Women, Men, Ordinands, Seminarians, and Young Theologians, and Staff of Ecumenical Organizations within the age group of 25-36 years.

Information About Trainees – Course Conducted in Bangalore
The trainees came from different parts of the country, but mostly from South India. All of them are active youth leaders in their respective churches and women’s fellowships.
Category Number
Pastors, Ordained/Deacons 10
Students from Theological Seminaries 11
Young Teachers, Lecturers  in Church- managed  Schools /Educational Institutions 2
Diocesan Office Bearers /Church Youth Representatives 2
Staff working with church-managed Social Justice/ Development or Diaconal Ministry or Ecumenical Organizations 5
NCCI Interns: Women’s Concerns Ministry and Youth Concerns Ministry 2
Total Number of Trainees 32

Course Outline:

  • Introduction to the Program & Mapping our Expectations (Rev Moumita Biswas, Executive Secretary – NCCI Women Concerns)
  • Prophetic Ecclesia: Catalyst of Gender Justice (Rev. Dr. Jayachitra Lalitha, Director of Christian Education, CSI Synod)
  • Thursdays in Black (Ahung Zimik- former intern- NCCI)
  • Unpacking Gender: Gender awareness and Self awareness (Ms Mercy Kappen, Director- Visthar)
  • Gender, Social Relations and Social Institutions (Ms Mercy Kappen)
  • Gender and Development (Ms Mercy Kappen)
  • Gender Masculinity & Positive Masculinity (Ms Mercy Kappen)
  • Jesus Type of Masculinity: Tools for Ensuring the Involvement of Men and Boys in Gender Mainstreaming and Advocacy Efforts (Rev. Dr Vincent Rajkumar- Director, Christian Institute for the Study of Religions and Society)
  • 365 Days ZERO Tolerance to Gender Based Violence: Make it Happen Now (Participants)
  • Women in Ordained Ministry: Chances and Challenges for Indian Churches (Rev. Dr. Bethel Krupa- Professor- UTC, Rev. Veronica Angela – Director Women’s Program-AELC)
  • Me To : Breaking the Silence: Sharing our Stories Challenges and Hope (Rev Moumita, Participants)
  • Contextual Bible Studies
  • Puncturing Cultural Hegemony Promoting Women’s Entrepreneurship to weave Gender Justice (Dr. Rini Ralte- Professor – UTC)
  • Migration and Human Trafficking (Rev. Moumita Biswas)
  • Safe Work Place: Sexual Harassment Policy & Grievance Redressal Mechanism (Ms Mercy Kappen)
  • Building  Inclusive Church & Communities (Human Sexuality, HIV/AIDS Ending Stigmatization)- (Fr Philip Kuruvilla- Former General Coordinator- ESHA Program of NCCI & Romal Singh
  • Intercepting Human Trafficking & Rehabilitation (Advocate Christy J – Legal Adviser Oasis International Bangalore )
  • Exposure to Global Concern India: Brinda Adige, Director of Global Concern India

The Training Programme:

On 13th June 2018 we started the program with an inaugural worship where sixty members along with the participants were present. The worship was led by participants and local delegates who were just invited for inaugural function and worship; Rev Moumita Bisaws brought the greetings from NCCI; she welcomed the people as well as felicitated the guests. We had Synthia Chopra, General Secretary-Women’s Fellowship CSI, Susan Thomas – President of CSI Women’s Fellowship, and Professor Esther Samuel – President of Women’s Fellowship- Karnataka Central Diocese who were part of Panel Discussion on Women Change Makers.

Rev Dr Jayachitra Lalitha- Director of Christian Education CSI Synod, delivered the Keynote Address as well as introduced the theme, Prophetic Ecclesia: Catalyst of Gender Justice. She asserted that the authentic mission of the church is to be related to God’s justice and to envision a just community, a situation in which peace and prosperity of all living beings prevail. In this context, participating in God’s mission means transforming the world from domination and exploitation into a new reality of Justice. After the worship we had fellowship dinner together and interacted with each other.

On 14th June 2018 we observed Thursdays in Black. Ahung Zimik- former intern of Women Concerns Ministry conducted the morning worship and narrated the history, activities, and reports of Thursdays in Black. She lamented that Gender based Violence is universal; it harms men, women and children in their most private spheres. We often feel helpless and hopeless in the face of so much pain and injustice. However, we can all be involved in a simple but powerful campaign to address Gender violence. Rev Moumita conducted a Bible study on Migration and Human Trafficking (Deuteronomy 21: 16). The participants actively and creatively responded to the scripture which was given them to meditate upon.

In the afternoon we had Mercy Kappen the Director of Visthar who took a session on “Unpacking Gender” where she talked about Gender Awareness and Self Awareness. The participants were asked to share what they knew about the terms, Gender Awareness and Self Awareness. It was interesting to know that some of them were already aware of gender imbalance; some of them had encountered it in their life within the church and society. During the tea break, we had a good time discussing about each other’s experiences and backgrounds. In the evening, Mercy Kappen talked about Gender Masculinity and Positive Masculinity where she guided the participants to take part practically by engaging them to write about and present their understanding of Gender Masculinity. The participants were divided into four discussion groups. Each group creatively presented reports of their discussions in the plenary.

The same day in the evening we had Rev Dr Vincent Rajkumar- Director of CISRS who took a session on “Jesus Type of Masculinity” where he spoke about “Tools for Ensuring Men and Boys’ Involvement in Gender Mainstreaming and Advocacy Efforts.” He said in the past few years, the Western church has seen an explosion in the number of resources designed to help us discover and embrace our God-given gender Identities. Books and conferences tell us how to model biblical masculinity and femininity. More to the point, many seek to identify the male or female behaviours that God designed to flow from our sex differences. If we step back and look at our Lord, we see that He Himself is a misfit with the most-quoted popular interpretation of Biblical Masculinity. Our Lord never hinted that we should conform to narrowly defined gender ideals. Rather, we should focus on what it means to be human.

On 15th June 2018 we started with a morning devotion, which was again led by the participants, followed by Dr Rini Ralte’s session on “Puncturing Cultural Hegemony –  Promoting Women’s Entrepreneurship to weave Gender Justice.” In the afternoon we had Rev. Bethel Krupa and Rev. Veronica who shared their own experiences as how they had to struggle to get ordained and serve in the church. In the evening, Fr Philip Kuruvilla took a session on “Building Inclusive Church & Community” where he addressed the issues of Human Sexuality and HIV/AIDS, and about ending stigmatization. We also got the opportunity to listen to Romal Singh. He shared the struggles of a gay person, thereby highlighting the problems encountered by homosexual persons.

16th June 2018 was very special for all of us, as we got an opportunity to have three different kinds of Exposure Programmes. Firstly we went to Visthar on an “Eco-pilgrimage” with the theme All God’s Creation Is Very Good. The focus was on Gender Justice, Ecology, Climate Change, and  Sustainable Development. Visthar, which was founded in 1989, is a secular Civil Society Organization committed to Social Justice and Peace. Vistar is a hub of socio-cultural and environmental consciousness; it offers study rogrammes on a plethora of subjects including gender, diversity, social justice, peace and development. We had a blessed time. Secondly we visited Rehabilitation Centre of Oasis India, Bangalore. Oasis India began its work in 1993 in Mumbai and later expanded to Bangalore, Chennai and the rural region of Punganur in Andhra Pradesh. Oasis India seeks to bring change by actively working among disadvantaged communities with initiatives in education, health, employment readiness, sports and other related areas. Their key focus is on anti-human trafficking. They partner with local authorities, including the police, railway protection force and child welfare committees to prevent children from being trafficked for labour or sex. We met women and girl children who have experienced human trafficking and violence in their life. This visit was facilitated by Christy J. Thirdly we visited Global Concern India(GCI) .It is a non-profit community-based organization, committed to strategically promoting transformative leadership with values. In striving to fulfil this mission, GCI addresses issues pertaining to human rights, especially of women and children, alleviating poverty by empowering the community to take responsibilities towards a building better future. We heard some women who faced and are still facing domestic violence in their life. This exposure was facilitated Brinda Adige who is the Director of Global Concern India. We had the privilege to interact with them and listen to their struggles as they continue to fight to protect their life from domestic violence.

On 17th morning we worshiped at St. Andrews Church (CSI) where Rev. Jessie Ranjan is the presbyter as well as the Secretary of ATTWI.  She warmly welcomed us to worship in their church and Rev. Moumita led the Responsive Reading in the worship. In the afternoon, Rev Moumita took a session on Advocacy Tools to promote Gender Justice. The participants were asked to share what they had gained from this programme and what stand they would be taking regarding Gender Justice. In the evening we had a closing session on “Strategizing: Evolving Contextual Paradigms of Mission and Evangelization to end Gender Based Violence. The participants departed to their respective places.

Trainees Observing Thursdays in Black Campaign to Create a World Free of Rape and Sexual Violence.

Feed-Back from Participants

Dn. Basil Paul (NCCI)

Violence on the grounds of sex and gender is proliferating all over the world. India in no way could shy away from this ignominy. It’s a concern of indignation to see women being crushed to pulp in a nation which deifies women. All the more India is homophobic too. We normally tend to think that homosexuality is against Indian culture. Ruth Vanita through her book “Same-sex Love in India” nullifies this argument and corroborates the fact that homosexuality was indeed practiced in India. No domain could be left scot free; Society, church and academia continue to perpetuate and legitimize gender based violence both in overt and covert forms. For such a time as this it becomes imperative to educate the masses about the gravity of these perils. These thoughts were well channelized through this certificate course. This course revealed to me the shallowness of my apprehensions and the way my engagement and praxis need to be redefined. In a nutshell the course was provocative in addressing the gender stereotypes as well as fruitful in strategizing innovative concepts to address the pandemic of sexual and gender based violence.

Kolapudi Rosy (CSI KARIMNAGAR DIOCESE)

It gave me the opportunity to know about sexual minorities and the violence they face. I am privileged enough to be part of this program as I closely see people struggling, in their day to day life, to get justice specially women.  I am a member of our women’s fellowship group and I will be sharing these experiences with them when I go back to my church.

Miss Param Joyti (AELC)

I am working as a missionary among dalits and low caste people in my village. Through this program I learnt that even rich people struggle for gender justice. This is the first time that I am coming out from my village and attending a program like this and I am feeling blessed to be part of this program.

Yesudas C.  (KTC, Mangalore)

My name is Yesudas C.  I am a student of KTC, Mangalore. It was a good programme. I learnt a lot from this gender justice programme. Not only from sessions but I also learnt by doing some practical activities in the sessions. I saw some NGOs doing good service for women and  children. That was a really good programme. It will surely help me for my future ministry. Mainly I learnt how to respect women, how to protect children, and my. responsibilities to  women, children and our society?

Finally I am grateful for your gender justice programme.

     

About Resource Persons

 Rev. Moumita Biswas

Theologian, Human Rights Activist, Gender Specialist from Church of North India. At present serving as Executive Secretary of Women Concerns Ministry of National Council of Churches in India. Also served in Christian Conference of Asia in the Commission on Women and Gender Justice, and in Lutheran World Service India Trust as Manager of the Gender Project. National Liaison Person on World Day of Prayer International Committee , and former Member of International Committee of Fellowship of Least Coin (ICFLC).Facilitated Contextual Bible Studies on Human Trafficking, Reproductive Health Justice and Rights, took sessions on feminist hermeneutics, deconstruction of patriarchal theology, Campaigns and Advocacy tools, Spiritual formation for justice and healing through CEDAW and Prayer movements like WDP and FLC Movement.

Rev. Dr. Jayachitra Lalitha

Rev Dr. Jayachitra Lalitha joined the CSI Synod family as the Director of the re-formed Christian Education Department from the 1st of August 2017.  She comes with a rich experience of theological education for the last thirteen years.  She grew up in faith formation and accompaniment from the South Kerala Diocese (the present Kollam-Kottarakara Diocese) and her deacon ordination is from the Karnataka Northern Diocese, where her husband is also an ordained minister. She completed her Bachelor of Divinity (B. D.) from the Union Biblical Seminary, Pune (2000), MTh in New Testament from the United Theological College, Bangalore (2013) and DTh in New Testament from the Federated Faculty of Research in Religion and Culture, Kottayam (2012).  She formerly served on the faculty of Leonard Theological College, Jabalpur (2003-2006) and Tamilnadu Theological Seminary, Madurai (2009-2017). As a nationally and internationally acclaimed Biblical scholar and feminist theologian, she has presented research papers in various reputed theological conferences.

Mercy Kappen

Backed by 35 years of experience in the field of community development and capacity building, Mercy Kappen is the co-creator of Visthar, a non-formal Academy of Justice and Peace established in 1989. Currently serving as the Director of Visthar, she has initiated, designed and implemented international and national study programmes for students, social workers and other professionals with a thrust towards gender justice and transformative education. Over the last decade her focus has been on capacity building for civil society organizations in the area of gender, diversity and development. Considerable amount of this work has been in conceptualizing and enabling NGOs, FBOs and INGOs to perceive gender as a cross cutting perspective, mainstreaming gender within organizations, and evolving gender sensitive indicators for PME of organizations , programs and projects.

Rev. Dr Vincent Rajkumar  

Rev. Dr. Vincent is a Presbyter of Church of South India. He is currently serving as the Director of the Christian Institute for the Study of Religion and Society, Bangalore, India. He is Vice Chairperson of the WACC Asia Region.

Ms. Brinda Adige

Ms. Brinda Adige, a Feminist and Women & Child Rights Activist, is the Director for Basis Children’s Village in India. Ms. Adige has been engaged in creating healing, nurturing, and loving homes at Basis Children’s Village with the help of her vision and her wealth of practical knowledge. A pioneer in anti-trafficking in Bangalore, Brinda, initiated India’s first child protection helplines in 1997 in the Bangalore Commissioner’s Office.

 

Reporter: Ms. Megha Naik, Intern, Women Concerns Ministry, NCCI

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