Conference Empowers Women Faculty
Twenty-three (23) participants from Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, and the Philippines joined the 2018 Conference for Women. The three-day seminar-workshop was held at Bangkok Christian Guest House, Bangkok, Thailand on November 27-30, 2018.
The three main speakers in the Conference were:
- Dr. Wai Ching Wong, Vice-President for Programs, United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia. Her presentation focused on the topic, “Feminist Methodology: Sex, Text and Subject.” She discussed the diverse perspectives on sex/gender, multi-layered interpretation of text and multiple subjects and how these perspectives play an essential part in one’s intellectual and spiritual development. These further helped the participants uncover gender disparity.
- Dr. Eh Tar Gay, Vice-President, Myanmar Institute of Theology, Yangon, Myanmar. She challenged women Christian leaders, educators, and ministers to write women herstories in mission because mission was traditionally done and documented from men’s perspective and from a male-dominated culture. She encouraged women to be initiators of mission and evangelism and catalyzers of social change as demonstrated by the lives and selfless services of some women in the Bible.
- Dr. Betty McCann, President, Silliman University, Dumaguete City, Philippines. She encouraged the participants to address the issues and myths in women’s leadership by harnessing and developing their natural leadership traits (e.g., opportunity driven, strategic, passionate, etc.). She explained that women leaders can level the playing field with men by being determined, courageous and disciplined. They can remain in the game if they stick by the rules, expand horizons, reflect and celebrate who they are – women, heirs and adopted into the family of Christ.
Three women panellists were invited also to share about the nature of their engagements and their stories. They were:
- Ms. Natkana Kunsawat, Young Women’s Coordinator, YWCA Bangkok, who reflected on the challenges that young women face in Bangkok particularly on the rising percentage of early pregnancy and suicide.
- Ms. Editha Andam, Treasurer, Dansalan College, Iligan City, Philippines, narrated her experience as one of the hostages during the siege of Marawi by the alleged members of the ISIS last year that turned the school into rubbles.
- Rev. Hendri Wijayatsih, Fakultas Teologi – Universitas Kristen Duta Wacana, Indonesia shared the joys and challenges of her work with women in Indonesia.
Through the lectures, sharing and group discussions, the participants expressed their commitment to:
- re-think their method of doing theology in order to uncover structures/systems/forces that dominate, discriminate, and disenfranchise women and help address these, so that women shall become empowered, men shall become enlightened and liberated from their patriarchal and dominating perspective, and all God’s creation shall enjoy the fullness of life that Jesus promised.
- engage in mission and social movements that will help liberate people from oppressive and destructive structures, write their personal stories and struggles to inspire and empower other women who cannot find their voice to speak up, and to be agents of social, political, religious and spiritual transformation in the family, church, and community.
- establish linkages with other women from different traditions, religious denominations and cultures in Asia so they can be in solidarity with one another and strengthen their cause of working for equality, justice, and peace among God’s creation.
To continue the empowerment of the women leaders in Southeast Asia, the participants recommended the following to ATESEA:
- To help facilitate the exchange of women faculty among its members to expand the knowledge and the world of each seminary.
- To hold dialogues for men and women (men and women conference) in an egalitarian structure from the perspective of biblical, theological and practical approach.
- To organize annually the Conference for Women to establish and strengthen their linkages and solidarity with one another; and
- To help in the sharing of feminist resources with member seminaries.