Gender justice exhibit in Scotland showcases women activists
WCC deputy general secretary Isabel Apawo Phiri is one of the featured women in the exhibit.
An exhibit entitled “Faith in Gender Justice” will open in the Scottish Parliament on 8 March in conjunction with International Women’s Day.
The exhibit will showcase inspirational women from around the world who are working to challenge gender inequality across eight themes including climate change, violence against women, refugees and women in leadership.
The exhibit is being organized by Christian Aid and Side by Side Scotland, part of a faith movement for gender justice. The opening is being sponsored by Kate Elizabeth Forbes, member of the Scottish parliament, and will be attended by other members of the Scottish parliament as well as faith leaders.
Miriam Weibye, church relations officer at the Scottish Episcopal Church and World Council of Churches (WCC) Central Committee member from the Church of Scotland, said many churches in Scotland are actively engaged with Side by Side, and the ecumenical steering group has been working to promote gender justice across the churches in Scotland, and in wider society
“Being supported by organizations such as Christian Aid, rather than by any one denomination, has enabled the group to be wide-reaching and proactive, and it is able to engage with events and materials in the different churches as well as organizing things on its own,” said Weibye. “We’re aware that we cannot work in isolation on this issue, so we work together whenever possible, and since gender inequality is a global issue, the group works with international partners such as the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil and the All India Council of Christian Women.”
”This is why we were keen for the exhibition to feature women of faith both from Scotland and from around the world,” said Weibye. “They have been tireless workers in their fields, and we are very happy to highlight and share their work here in Scotland.”
Churches in Scotland also support the longstanding global campaign “Thursdays In Black” to combat violence against women.
WCC deputy general secretary Isabel Apawo Phiri is one of the featured women in the exhibit, with her contribution to gender justice explained via text and a photograph. Phiri is quoted as saying, “‘Prophetic theology has turned me into an activist for gender justice.”
But her route has been costly, explains the exhibit text: “Isabel was introduced to gender justice discourse through the Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians. In 1995, she experienced violent attacks from male and female students at the University of Malawi after presenting research findings on sexual harassment and rape on campus.”
In the same year she was threatened with excommunication from the Blantyre Synod of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian for apparently inciting church women to seek gender justice in the church.
“However,” the text concluded, “she was voted Woman of the Year 1995 by the Nation Newspaper for breaking the silence in Malawi and bringing gender justice into public debate. A Centre for Gender Studies has since been established at the University of Malawi.”