Use “theological, biblical insights” to Address Women Challenges: Catholic Nun in Kenya

Sr. Mary Nzilani during her presentation on the second day of the biannual Pan African Congress on Theology in Nairobi. Credit: ACI Africa

The challenges women face, including those triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic such as gender-based violence and cultural negativities, can be addressed using theological and biblical approaches, a Catholic Nun in Kenya has said.

In her presentation on the second day of the July 19-22 biannual Pan-African Catholic Congress on Theology, Society, and Pastoral Life, Sr. Mary Nzilani said that the pandemic not only threatened the physical health of women but also negatively affected their emotional and mental well-being.

“About the challenges, it is good to find something that can help women especially towards continuous formation for them to be liberated,” Sr. Nzilani said in her Wednesday, July 20 presentation at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) in Nairobi, and added in reference to women, “This we get from the biblical and theological insights to revitalize them.”

She reflected on the biblical statement that all human beings are made in the image and likeness of God and underscored the need for respect across gender, saying, the “meaning and fullness of human kind is realized not only in the man but also in the woman.”

In applying a theological approach, the member of the Sisters of Mary Mother of God, Mombasa Archdiocese, underscored the need for pastoral care for women who were traumatized and depressed amid COVID-19 challenges.


Some of the participants at the ongoing pan African Congress on Theology held at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) in Nairobi Kenya. Credit: ACI Africa

She went on to propose a “faith-based approach to human rights” and the need to eliminate cultural effects that undermine the rights of women, including cultural superiority complex, and cultural pride.

Sr. Nzilani who was reflecting on the topic, “Revitalizing the women amidst COVID-19 in the Church and in the Society: A Pastoral Perspective”, spoke about the negative effects of the social distancing protocol.

“We talk of social distancing, which affected women thereby leading to many challenges that equally affected their spiritual growth and the nature of communal life in the Church and the entire society,” she said in reference to the negative effects of COVID-19 restrictions.

The Kenyan Catholic Nun reflected on the abilities of women in the light of St. John Paul II Apostolic letter, Mulieries Dignitatem on dignity and vocation of women.

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She said during her July 20 presentation, “The hour is coming, in fact it has come, when the vocation of women is being acknowledged in its fullness; the hour in which women acquire in the world an influence, an effect and a power never hitherto achieved.”

Meanwhile, in his commentary on Sr. Nzilani’s presentation, focusing on the challenges women faced amid COVID-19 restrictions, the Coordinator of the Pastoral department of the Association of member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA) highlighted sexual abuse especially cases of rape and incest, which he said were “really rampant especially in informal settlements”.

As a pastoral coordinator, Fr. Emmanuel Chimombo said in his presentation on July 20, “I discovered that rape was really rampant especially in informal settlements, and more especially incest. The most painful thing is that out of this, some led to pregnancy.”

Fr. Emmanuel Chimombo, coordinator of the Pastoral department of AMECEA, sharing his views on the effects of COVID-19 on women. Credit: ACI Africa

“COVID-19 has ended but there are children who will be born out of that incident,” Fr. Chimombo said, and cautioned against abortion. 


“Once life has begun, we do not have control as Christians, so the question of abortion is overruled,” the Malawian Catholic Priest said.

On his part, Fr. Matthias Mulumba underscored the need to respect the dignity of all persons, including the vulnerable in society.

“Each and every person has a mission, to be proactive and listen to the suffering neighbor,” Fr. Mulumba said in his commentary on Sr. Nzilani’s presentation at the July 19-22 Congress on Theology, Society, and Pastoral Life that members of the Pan-African Catholic Theology and Pastoral Network (PACTPAN) have organized.

“All the people are created in God’s image, and are supposed to live in dignity,” Fr. Mulumba said, and added, “let us go out and give dignity to those who are abandoned, and those who are suffering in various ways.

Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.