Studies in World Christianity 29.1

Women in World Christianity: Navigating Identities

Edited by Nuam Hatzaw and Jessie Fubara-Manuel

Leading Ghanaian theologian Mercy Amba Oduyoye describes theology without the inclusion of women as a one-winged bird – hindered and unable to soar to its full potential. In her opening address at the inaugural meeting of the Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians (the Circle) in 1989, she contended that African theology needs to pay proper attention to women’s issues, experiences and theological reflections in order that it might be a two-winged theology that can take full flight. Oduyoye’s comments highlighted the pervasive omission of women’s voices within religious institutions and theological and religious studies literature. Despite women’s important and pivotal roles in these arenas, their contributions, perspectives and needs have gone consistently underplayed, or been otherwise dismissed.

This Special Issue might be taken as a response to Oduyoye’s call. In the thirty-three years since her remarks, there has been much progress with regards to the inclusion of women’s voices and perspectives within scholarship and practice. However, there are still areas and places in the world where women’s voices remain muted. The pursuit of gender equality is an ongoing and deep-rooted commitment. It is not merely a box to be ticked and forgotten about once achieved in one area, in one time, but rather must be interwoven throughout the work and research that is undertaken. As researchers with personal and academic commitments to uplifting women’s voices and perspectives, we were keen to showcase our ongoing commitment to hearing women’s voices where they are still muted. Although significant progress has been made, we remain convinced of the continuing importance of ensuring women are properly acknowledged in research within World Christianity. We approached each author with a broad but intentional brief – to examine how women across the global South have negotiated and performed their religious and gender identity/identities in a critically reflective and liberating manner. The four articles within explore the innovative ways in which women have drawn on spiritual and religious resources to navigate their identities amidst various intersecting and occasionally competing societal, cultural and religious pressures. These are complemented by the interview with Dr Fulata Moyo, whose experiences working within gender justice advocacy and religion add a personal and lived dimension to the themes covered in this issue.

This is an excerpt from the editorial for SWC 29.1 by Nuam Hatzaw and Jessie Fubara-Manuel, entitled ‘Women in World Christianity: Navigating Identities‘.

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