Accepted paper:

Continuities and disruptions in womens' role and influence in churches in South Kivu, DRC, before, under and after the violent conflict

Author:

Berit Aasen (Oslo Metropolitan University (OsloMet))

Paper short abstract:

Women have been active in conflict mediation and protection in South Kivu. Women's local mobilisation and women in leadership roles, have given women a stronger role and more influence. However, this position is contested against the notion of the "noble women", the wise, caring and competent woman.

Paper long abstract:

Church Networks have traditionally been the strongest non-state Networks in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Eastern Congo. Their role was extremely important during the violent conflict and the peace negotiations, and still remain so. Our findings based on fieldwork in South Kivu and the Great Lakes region find that although women were victims of widespread sexual and gender violence (SGBV), their local mobilisation against the violence and the international focus on these atrocities, also provided a platform for a strengthened role and influence of women at local and provincial level. While the Catholic Church with its hierarchies and structures has been prominent in promoting training and women's leadership, Protestant churches (ECC) have remained mainly the traditional pastor led congregations, where women's role and influence to a large extent has remained one of support and subordination to the male pastor. However also among the three Protestant churches, two old Pentecostal churches and the Methodist church, change is underway. A combination of women's local mobilisation and strengthened legitimacy of women in leadership roles, have given women ma stronger role and more influence. At the same time this position is contested against the notion of the "noble women" ("la femme sage"), i.e. the wise, caring and competent woman that has the responsibilities to take care of both her children and family, and for the wider community.

panel Rel09
Continuities or disruptions? The role(s) of women in African religions