Religion and Gender 1

How has religion, in the form of discourses, institutions, and actors, been used in support of and/or against the achievement of gender equity?

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Karen Armstrong compares women . She further suggests that the worst part in women oppression is where women take their own ratings. For a long period of time. Children learn about their different roles as male and female. most religions still restrict women from accessing power. which include culture. Inequality arises when men posses all the power and value as perpetuated during childhood. Karen Armstrong was a nun and is actively involved in advocating and promoting better positions for women.Religion and Gender 2 1. geography and history. Introduction People are born as either female or male. The exclusion of women greatly vary based on faith. According to Stopler (2005). Hence. creation of individuals’ identity using society is known as gender. Men and women are shaped by the teaching of religion and culture but a person is born male or female. women are excluded and have little to contribute to the society. She insists that the fault comprises of great wound which has it way into the religion resulting in the damage and defilement of traditions reliability. the role played by women in religion has resulted in debate and disagreements in the contemporary times. women have been classified under major monotheistic faiths unlike men who have always controlled religious hierarchies hence solely making decisions on what to do. Apart from being the author of A HISTORY OF GOD. The outcome is that they will be dependent on men at all times. When inequality exists. According to her. it is mostly determined by combination of religious and extra-religious factors. tradition greatest fault arise when women are belittled. she has also written biography about Buddha and valued volume concerning Islam. Even though women are being ordained as priests in certain Christian denominations currently.

having faith or reading sacred texts. Male population is considered favored yet female population continues to struggle with gender intolerance. . honesty. trust. 2. The principles lead to unity of purpose and social progress among people sharing same values. women are asking for equity to accelerate social security and rural development and get what they deserve. development can be accelerated by considering different levels of needs. Therefore. It provides primary force for social progress. and dedication. It should be encouraged if it brings cohesion and social progress but discouraged if it disrupts peace because conflicts hampers development and social progress. religion is a belief on the existence of a god who decides the fate of someone. gender discrimination poverty and oppression.Religion and Gender 3 to the people living in the developing countries who have been colonized and assume defamation done to them by race colonists. heavy and less productive work as well as marginalization. This is possible because religion has universal principles such as tolerance. They further explain that women are contributing greater percentage to country’s gross domestic product as compared to men in developing countries yet receive little economic power in return. sacrifice. love. religion should be treated with utmost care. engaging in ritual practices. Consequently. Background on Development approach to understanding religion and gender. hatred. Gender refers to male or female. However. Most feminist proponents argue that women are denied opportunities for advancement and are petitioning policy makers to give priority to women issues. Therefore. According to Nye (2008). Religion is more than going to church or mosque. some religions have been source of social disintegration. Religion can influence social development positively or negatively. intolerance.

these rights apart from providing human beings with appropriate chance to develop their inner resources. In the Islam religion acts of worship are similar for all men and women though done separately. Both men and women face similar legal penalties incase of breaching the law. According to Sabbah (1984). fundamental rights are strongly assured in the Quran and are not meant for men only. threats. both are spiritual before God. these rights came to being to enable human beings to actualize their potential. different rights to all humans are emphasized. these rights are embedded in humanity hence denying or even violating them results in negation of what makes people human. they also give direction of what God intended humans to be. Individuals can only be differentiated through righteousness. Islam religion acknowledges that though there are physical differences among men and women. Equality in the Quran is justified using the following verses. In the Quran. According to the Islam religion. According to religion.Religion and Gender 4 constrains. According to Kandiyoti (1991). individuals who strictly follow righteousness and be full of faith. The Quran clearly states that the issues concerning ones gender have no correlation with the reward or the punishment one will receive in the next life. opportunities as well as priorities of both sexes. 3. whether male or female will qualify to enter heaven and they will not face injustice (Quran 4:124). How religion is used in support of the achievement of gender equality According to Al-Sadawi (1982). According to Roy (2004). According to Watt (1988). In the Islam religion equality exists between men and women and is valued alike before the eyes of God. firstly is the right for everyone to be regarded in . Moreover general rules which deals with legal and practical expressions are similar for all human beings.

This is illustrated in the Quran whereby it states that. According to the Islam religion. Human beings are considered to be worthy as compared to the rest of creation. This is because all the human beings have the right to work. It should be clearly understood that this rights are not meant for men alone but for all. Both men and women are entitled to the wages of their labors. every human being has been honored (Surah 17: Al-Isra: 70). This is because unlike the rest of creation. (Surah 33: Al-Ahzab: 72). God owns everything hence equal rights to all human beings. women according to the Quran are deemed as persons who have their own and not associates to men. the right to thrive and be able to enjoy good life instead of just surviving. In restricting assess of knowledge Muslim women are deprived of justice which is their own right. it is by virtue of one being a human being. Another important right according to the Islam religion is the right to have freedom from traditionalism and authoritarianism. Having a right to earn a living is essential to women. and to be in possession of certain properties. In the Quran. to earn from ones labor. These rights are not based on whether one is a man or a woman. instead. equality should be seriously considered. Religion stresses that acquisition of knowledge helps an individual to be able to assess life’s condition and helps to strive towards creation of a just world. Self-actualization or development is required which is obtained through social justice. Women’s rights are essential factors of social justice and it help in bringing about a . Moreover. Every individual has right to respect apart from that of life. Considering Muslim women status. Another important right of human being s is the ability to increase visual sensibilities and in addition.Religion and Gender 5 a manner that shows complete value of every human life. they accepted trust of the liberty of the will. great emphasis is on every individual right to seek knowledge.

5. However. hence temporal authorities will not be able to revoke them. which include every right of a woman. Another kind of responsibility involved in the rights. According to Cullen (2005). in the Christian religion natural biological distinctiveness of both male and female is highly regarded 4. Example of a religious discourse. it shows the importance of equality. In religion. Religious leaders and the followers clearly argue that there should be no existence of prejudiced actions within the religious belief. Paul in the book of Galatians3:28 stressed that all human beings are one in Christ hence there is no classification of people as male and female. man and child. it is stressed that rights necessitates responsibility. is the duty of individuals not disregard them. According to the Christian religion both men and women are equally created by God. How religion is used against the achievement of gender equity. Its core practices involve empowering women and promoting gender equality. Human beings having a covenant relationship with God should always strive to protect the rights given to them by God. which involves books that are honored such as the Bible or the Koran. religion has commonly been used to validate .Religion and Gender 6 society which is just and enables every individual to be able to actualize their own God given potential. This stands for United Nations Population Fund. Therefore. Rights given to human being by God have to be practiced because God provides guidance on how people should live in this world. this refers to the individuals not misusing rights in order to warrant destructive behaviour. institution or faith-based organization supporting gender equity An example of faith based organization which supports gender equity is UNFPA.

Limitation of empowerment is also viewed from the different ways in which women are defined by religious values concerning the domestic responsibilities. An illustration of inequality in the issue of divorce for women in Orthodox Judaism is whereby religious divorce certificate is withheld. Moreover. these principles include issues on dress codes that make them invisible. and inability to hold authoritative positions both in the church as priests and ministers and even in work places. association inside and outside the home being restricted. have children or not to and be able to decide on the number of children one will have and how to space them. According to King (1995). Woman are denied the opportunity to make informed choices especially when deciding whether to choose a partner or not. The extent in which women empowerment is limited by religion has been derived from unwillingness of various religions to let women have positions where they will be able to exercise different responsibilities within religious and other social organization. religion can also influence social and economic development negatively.Religion and Gender 7 principles that are focused towards women. denying them the access to education and the opportunity of working outside home in order to fulfill their potential. According to Jane et al (2003). Women are also required to shave their heads. This is because its values are involved in determining and preserving social hierarchy and exclusion. Another crucial decision is whether to divorce one’s husband or not and concerning divorce being able to access rights and privileges similar to those of the husband. In order to be released under the Jewish law the husband may require some payment for the release. The divorcing husband has freedom to make his own decisions unlike his wife who remains joined to him. The worst violation occurs especially concerning family and marriage. Female sexuality is controlled by religion with greater .

he further suggests a woman to be man’s glory. According to Phillips (2002). Southern Baptists and the Mormons. Men at times are viewed to resemble God unlike women. in most religions women have continually been deprived even though they are considered to be more religious than men. instead it is taken to be Gods . respect is only allocated to relationships between husband and wife. Among denominations which do not allow ordination of the female are the Roman Catholicism. This statement in some cases leads to men being viewed as superior while women are seen to be inferior. According to Casanova (1994). in some societies women are stoned for committing adultery and even killed for what is referred to as honour crimes.Religion and Gender 8 harshness unlike men. Considering traditions where God is taken to be male. condemns expression of women. Sexual relationships are also condemned by most religions. Therefore by increasing the impact of religion in the society and processes women rights will be less respected because they have minimal representatives. and denies them the opportunity to enjoy their own sexuality. first is biblical literalism. men do development of doctrine in most religions. The main reasons of not ordaining the female include. In the US. most theologians have concluded that women are morally inferior to men and that they are the key source of temptation to men especially sexual temptation. major denominations do not permit ordination of women or even female to serve in capacities equal to that of men. This can be illustrated in 1 Corinthians 11:7 where Paul declares man as having the image and glory of God. women have little or even no opportunity to determine religious doctrines. In addition. Moreover. This is whereby bible is not taken as being historical work done at different times. According to Young (1993).

those in resistance of modernity. institution or faith-based organization or actor against gender equity . the Jewish legacy and the Christian religion. honor rape. One can easily realize the low status given to women in the Islam communities. Women in most cases do not pastor a congregation. According to Reuther (2002). However he stresses that this is similar to obvious reasons and he further insists that the hidden reason is that religions maintain in order to be able to provide a given market niche. naturally sinful and human beings who cannot help themselves. Moreover women mostly are allocated congregation in rural areas which are smaller and pay less. These reasons were defined by Chaves in his own book on female ordination. Secondly is sacramentalism. Even in religions where women rights importance is recognized. Example of a religious discourse. and in addition they are viewed to be weak. This involves beliefs that an individual conducting sacramental rituals has to be Jesus representative in his manliness. generally fundamentalist religions comprising of fundamentalist Islam and Christianity have the main objective to preserve men power and be able to overpower women. women are unequal to men and wives are considered as being equivalent to their husband’s property. instead they become assistants unlike men. In the Islamic law. According to Swatos (1994).Religion and Gender 9 literal word. According to Mormons one was allowed to be polygamous but polyandry was illegal. and young girl’s sexuality. 6. when a girl attains nine years it is considered to be the consent age. According to Jaffary (2007). This is clearly portrayed through polygamy. women are portrayed to be unequal to men. in the creation myths. women are still discriminated against .

As a result. it should be practiced with a lot of caution. and even access to health care. However.they introduced strict limitation on women rights. Conclusion It is a fact from most religious doctrines that both men and women are considered equal in the eyes of “God”. 7. needs. there is no gender equality in absolute terms. limitation on job opportunities. Religion has massive influence on the progression of communities. However. Opinion leaders and community educators should promote aspirations. it can help accelerate global development. Therefore. economic marginalization and violence as compared to men. socio-economic development is greatly hampered. it cause some tensions and unwarranted gender based competitions that may cause more problems. If well conceived and proactively practiced. partial education access. some religions are considered obnoxious because it creates tensions and war among people of religious divides.Religion and Gender 10 The opposition of gender equity can be illustrated using Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan when they came to power in 1996. However. These involved not being allowed to contribute to communal life. it is obvious that most female persons are trapped in the chains of segregations. when female feel unprivileged as compared to men. wants and opportunities of both male and female to allow for harmonized roles in the society. Gender also plays major role for advancing society’s progress. Religions such as Islam and Christianity recognize the fact that all persons need to be treated with respect and equality. Therefore. References .

Religion and Gender 11 Al-Sadawi. Women. London: University Press of New England. Casanova. Religion and gender. “The liberal bind: The conflict between women’s rights and patriarchal religion in the liberal state. Gender Justice.2. Newyork: Palgrave Macmillan. Cullen. R (2003).” Social Theory and Practice. D (1991). J (1994). Vol. Jewish Feminism in Israel: Some Contemporary Perspectives. Development and Rights. ethnicity. Nayereh. USA: Ashgate Publishing. A ( 2002). Routledge. 2nd edition. R (2002). Bayes. race and religion in the colonization of the Americas. Gender. Globalized Islam: The Search for a New Ummah. gender. Women and Islam. N (2007). Public Religions in the Modern World. J& Tohidi. King. Gender. O (2004). Oxford. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Phillips. Stopler. Islam and the State. N (1982).31. New York: Columbia University Press. T & Melanie. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. Jane. . Oxford: Oxford University Press. No. B. Jaffary. Sabbah. Nye. Australia: Veritas Co. N (2001). Ltd Ruether. F ( 1984). USA: Wiley-Blackwell. and religion: the politics of women's rights in Catholic and Muslim context. Ltd. Roy. Minneapolis: Fortress Press. Women in the Muslim Unconscious. Kandiyoti.S (2005). M (2008) Religion: the basics. . G (2005). and religion: views from the other side. New York: Pergamon Press. U (1995). Religion and gender. Globalization. Oxford: Pergamon Press.

Islamic Fundamentalism and Modernity. W (1994).Religion and Gender 12 Swatos. Transaction Publishers. Gender and religion. Women’s Rights in Catholic and Muslim Context. London: Routledge. New York: Palgrave.unfpa. K (1993). M (1988). Young. Watt. UNFPA (2004) Culture Matters: Working with Communities and Faith-based Organisations (Online). Available from: http://www.org/upload/lib_pub_file/426_filename_CultureMatters_2004. . Planning Development with Women: Making a World of Difference. London: Macmillan Press Ltd.pd [Accessed 21st May 2010].

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