Systemic Change and Gender Justice

Workshops on systemic change and gender justice were held in the second and third weeks of March as one of the efforts made by the SCNs of Patna province to implement the general assembly directives and province decisions.

Seventeen SCNs and ten novices from eight houses were deeply involved in the two day workshop held at Mokama. Seventeen SCNs from Gaya, Chatra, Gomoh, Khorimahuwa and Rajgir participated in the second workshop on March 16 In Gaya. 

The objective of the workshop was to give the SCNs an understanding of the concept of systemic change and gender justice so that they will be able to implement our directives in their ministries and in their personal lives.

The workshops began with a prayer service that asked all the participants to reflect deeply on how sensitive or insensitive we are to the cry of the suffering, who are often the victim of violence, poverty, and injustice. 

The first day, slideshows, films, many stories of Vincentian Family who brought solace, holistic development, and safe haven for the poorest of the poor living in most inhuman conditions were presented by the team. Through vivid examples, the participants were convinced that along with the will, we need to love the poor, that we must have commitment in order to go to the root causes of poverty/marginalization and bring about systemic change. They were also convinced that the participation of those being ministered to, at every stage of the project, is a must from planning to execution to evaluation. 

The second day was spent in understanding the concept of gender imbalances, in society and the church.

The participants were led to analyze the traditional role and responsibility set for men and women vis-à-vis rights in our cultures and the kinds of privileges bestowed on men and women when carrying out these roles, how un-proportionately and unjustly they are defined. It was done through sharing our experiences. The tenets of patriarchy and socialization process for boy and girl, man and woman, the overarching role played by religions in justifying and validating the norms of patriarchy were also discussed. 

The Biblical and theological basis for understanding (and misunderstanding) gender equality and the dignity of women in creation accounts, feminine images of God in the Bible also helped the participants to have a clear idea of the disparity that exists in the Church today. 

The session on The Gender Policy of the Catholic Church approved by the Catholic Bishops Conference of India was an eye opener to the participants on the commitment of the Bishops of India to bring about Gender equality in the Church at least in written document form.

At the end of the workshops the participants made commitments to bring about systemic change and gender justice through personal actions as well as through the various ministries they are engaged in.

Wriiten by Marianne Puthoor, SCN