Women’s empowerment programs have been at the core of the ‘Diaconal Ministry’ of the Church of South India. According to Revd Asir Ebenezer- Director of Diaconal Concerns- CSI Synod “these programs have taken many forms in different contexts. Education, empowerment, and economic livelihood options were some of the areas that took root in most places. Education of girls was the flagship of church’s education ministry. Many hostels for girls as well as nursing and teacher training schools for young women were started and flourish to this day.” CSI also initiated the ‘Girl Child Campaign’. Ebenezer further states “However despite a radically sound theology and a reformist mind with regard to gender sensitivity, there are many bottlenecks. The aim of the discourse on gender equity is to reach beyond the domain of women and their associations. There is a vital need for gender mainstreaming to end gender based violence. So GEET brings the discourse to the mainstream life and witness of Church Women and Men. The present visible leadership of males in the church sphere is to be challenged to bring significant changes.”
Gender Equity Enabling Timetable (CSI-GEET) – Has three foci:
1) Workplace- To ensure a safe working space, institutions of the CSI are oriented on awareness , prevention, and redressal of sexual harassment of women at workplace promoting ‘Prevention, Prohibition & Redressal Act, 2013’ . Ebenezer states that many christian institutions have constituted an Internal Complaints Committee in compliance with the Act. After the constitution of ‘Internal Complaints Committees’ in our institutions, male staff have become more sensible in their interactions with their female colleagues. Women are aware that they can be treated with dignity and do not have to ‘adjust’ or put up with inappropriate behaviour from the opposite sex.”
2) Homes including Christian Homes – CSI is also engaging in various endeavours of spiritual formation to create safe home free from abuse and empowering both men and women to work towards ending domestic violence and other gender based violence within home .
3) Mind of the Man for Nurturing Gender Equity– Developing contextualised study material based on ‘Created in God’s image: from Hegemony to Partnership’ (a church’s manual on men as partners promoting positive masculinities was published by WCRC in collaboration with the WCC and the United Methodist Church) to be studied by men in five locations in each of the 24 CSI Dioceses.