Women Theological Forum (WTF) organized 4-day seminar on “Feminist Theology in Pakistan” from 18 to 21 May 2017 at Theological Institute of Laity, Sadhuke, Gujranwala.
Mrs. Sajida Pervez (Chief Coordinator – WTF) welcomed the participants. Later, the participants expressed their joy over the appointment of Mrs. Alishba Javed Akhtar as the first ever female Director of MAP and assured her of their solidarity and cooperation. The newly appointed Director, MAP - Mrs. Alishba Javed Akhtar – welcomed the participants (Female participants of MAP groups) and highlighted objectives of the WTF. Mrs. Alishba Javed Akhtar told that MAP launched WTF in 1992 with an aim to train lay women in doing contextual theology enabling them for leadership and participation in the Church and society. She added that WTF also provided a common platform for women to exchange views and experiences with other MAP group members coming from all over the country. She concluded that WTF would mainly focus on Feminist Theology and role of women in the Church Ministries and participation in the church against the backdrop of the vision of MAP.
During the following sessions of the seminar presentations were made on the following topics followed by group workshops:
Dr. Farhana Anthony, a trained feminist theologian from the Presbyterian Church, shared views on “Doing Feminist Theology: A Case Study Method”. She explained that men and women were equal, but in a patriarchal society woman is considered an inferior creature of God. She gave reference of women theologians Rose Mary and Frioanze, who say that the meaning of feminist is equality not to show the men to be inferior to women. She spoke about the great efforts of women theologians in asserting women place in the society. The speaker talked about the methodology of doing theology basing on real life situations of the oppressed woman folk in Pakistan. She asked the participants to go into groups, choose a case reflecting women situation and their struggle and reflect on it in the light of Holy Scripture and church teachings.
Mrs. Mehwish Gulfam, a lay theologian spoke on “Feminist Theology: A Positive Approach”. She told that in the Bible there were many feminine roles for the women. The women of the Bible are the role models in developing feminist theology with positive approach. She discussed current social issues being faced by women in Pakistan. She advised the participants to follow examples of Hebrew women in the Bible playing different roles in the family, society and the nation with a constructive and positive attitude and behavior.
Mrs. Noreen Haroon Gill a lay thinker and social activist spoke on “Situation of Women: Human Rights Perspective”. Defining human rights, she said it was something to which you are entitled by virtue of being human. Human rights are based on the principle of respect for the individual. Their fundamental assumption is that each person is a moral and rational being, irrespective of gender, who deserves to be treated with dignity. They are called human rights because they are universal. However, she lamented that women in Pakistan are subjected to human rights violation in the name of religion and social norms. She is discriminated against on the basis of gender and treated as inferior and sub-human creature by the male dominated society. She concluded that Pakistani women should raise voice against injustice, discrimination and inequality in the families and society and should aware of their fundamental human rights.
Ms. Ayra Inderyas a trained feminist theologian from Church of Pakistan, Raiwind Diocese, shared views on “Dimension of Sexual Exploitation: Cases Based Biblical Perspective”. While sharing her thoughts she said that feminism belonged to our thinking not to our gender in terms of sexuality. We have to keep this view in front of us that in which perspective we read the Bible. We should pray to God for wisdom and blessing which escape us to get entangle in negative thinking and behavior. Jesus Christ gave importance to women in that society where it was considered sin to talk to a woman.
In dialogue with a Samaritan woman Jesus Christ showed that women are the most integral part of the society. We have to study Bible with the feminist perspective. She cited some cases of sexual exploitation of women in Pakistan and developed a theological reflection thereon with feminist perspective. She concluded that through history we come to know that brave women were not appreciated. They always discouraged by society. The session followed by the group workshop. The participants actively shared their thoughts. They narrated the social issues which are the main hurdles to live life according to feminist perspective. They presented some fruitful steps which can be helpful to make better of women’s situation in the society.
Mrs. Sarafeen Yaqoob a lay thinker and activist shared her views about “Women and Ecology”. She symbolized the mother with earth that mother gives life to a child while the earth gives food to be alive. Human beings are misusing earth for their personal interest and damaging earth, likewise women are facing degradation. She said women should be more confident and brave today to protect echo system and should take a stand for protection of mother earth in their families and society.
In the last session of “Analysis and Future Planning” participants presented their views and shared their opinions about the seminar. They said that these seminars provide the platform to women for their formation and guide them how to study the Bible with feminist perspective. They came to know more about women’s rights, women’s role in society and social issues in theological perspective. All women participants appreciated this great effort of MAP in conducting seminars for women.
Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Asi (Chairperson-MAP) appreciated the seminar and invited the women to come forward and realize their integral role in society. He said WTF platform was for women, they are invited to come get training and play their role in families, church and society effectively.
The certificates of participation were distributed by Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Asi, Mrs. Alishba Javed Akhtar and Mrs. Sajida Pervez.
The event concluded with vote of thanks by Mrs. Alishba Javed Akhtar followed by holy mass celebrated by Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Asi.
57 women from different cities of Pakistan (Karachi, Kotri, Mirpurkhas, Khairpur Maris, Jurian Distt Hafizabad, Lahore, Mian Sansi Gujranwala, Francisabad, Sangla Hill, Sheikhupura, Village Raja, Harpoke and Fr. Satani Selas Town Sadhoke) participated in this four days’ seminar.