Women Targeted in Interreligious Conference “to have a voice within religious space”

Poster announcing the one-day interreligious conference in Kenya targeting women to have their voices heard in the religious space
Credit: The Institute for Interreligious Dialogue and Islamic Studies

Women are expected to be the primary beneficiaries of an interreligious conference in Kenya to be held at a Nairobi-based Catholic Institute of higher learning aimed at empowering them so that their voices are heard “within religious space,” one of the organizers of the event has told ACI Africa.

“With all the current issues of radicalization, violence, extremism, we are strongly convinced that women have a role to play in terms of peace building and social cohesion,” Fr. Innocent Maganya who is involved in planning for the one-day event to take place at Tangaza University College (TUC) told ACI Africa Friday, January 17.

“We hope to empower women to have a voice within the religious space and see that more and more are part of that process of reconciliation, peacebuilding and national cohesion,” Fr. Maganya, a member of the Society of the Missionaries of Africa said.

Organized under the theme, “Religious Minority Rights and (Inter-)Religious Literacy from a Women’s perspective,” the January 24 conference will focus on women who fall within the category of religious minorities particularly because “our religions are still male dominated and the role of women has not been duly appreciated,” the native of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) based in Kenya explained.

Considering “the religious space,” Fr. Maganya said, “women have always been marginalized.”

TUC’s Institute for Interreligious Dialogue and Islamic Studies (IRDIS)  where Fr. Maganya is the Director is organizing the conference, which will also focus on the importance of  traditional African religions to Christians and Muslims.

Since there are Christians with an African background and Muslims with an African background, the Missionary of Africa observed, “there could be some solutions from an African perspective of peace building, reconciliation, cohesion.”

In his view, approaching peacebuilding from the perspective of traditional African religions “has always been forgotten or left out because people think that African religions are forgotten but they are still alive and influencing the lives of many.”

“If you see in the seed of interreligious dialogue, the voice of African religion does not come out but if you see the role of faith-based organizations (FBOs) and their contribution, they will always speak mainly of Christians and Muslims and even rarely about other religions,” Fr. Maganya explained.

The upcoming conference is a follow up of the previous workshop held in January 2019 under the theme, “The space of women within our own religious traditions and their contributions to peace building.”

Other organizations partnering with IRDIS in organizing the conference include the Missionaries of Africa, Agiamondo, Cultural Council of the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Kenya and Ziviler Friedensdienst Civil Peace Service.

ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.

Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa
[email protected]