‘One in Christ Jesus’ - Tackling Gender Inequalities in Zambia

First published on: 17th September 2021

‘One in Christ Jesus’ - Tackling Gender Inequalities: The Zambia Anglican Church's Response

On 16th September, USPG hosted a webinar with representatives from across the Zambia Anglican Church on the topic of gender inequality.

The Rt Rev’d William Mchombo, Bishop of the Diocese of Eastern Zambia and Chair of the Zambia Anglican Council’s Outreach Programme, began the webinar with a reflection on Galatians 3: 28. He said, ‘In the past few years, Zambia has seen a rise in gender-based violence (GBV) and underage marriage. This has resulted in widespread protests urging stronger laws against GBV. In the passage from Galatians, the apostle Paul abolishes classes, discrimination and factionalism within the Church. As the Body of Christ, the Church should be enriched by the involvement of both women and men. Paul emphasises the importance of equality within the Church. Following Paul, the Zambia Anglican Council’s Outreach Programme believes that the Church should promote gender justice both within religious groups and in the wider community. We are all human beings created in the image of God, and therefore no one is inferior to another.’

Felicia Sakala, Director of the Zambia Anglican Council Outreach Programme (ZACOP), said ‘In Zambia, there is a deep-rooted idea that men are superior to women. Zambians are taught not to talk about their marriages or what happens within the household. This is one reason why gender-based violence is an issue in Zambia. In partnership with USPG and the Anglican Board of Mission, ZACOP has reached out to around 57,000 people through its activities around gender justice and early childhood support. The success of ZACOP’s gender justice programme can be seen through its expansion from the Diocese of Luapula to the Diocese of Lusaka and the Diocese of Eastern Zambia.’

Kelvin Musongo, Head of Programmes at the Zambia Anglican Council, added ‘We are able to build connections with local communities through radio broadcasts, door-to-door visits and community meetings. This raises awareness of gender-based violence and of the availability of services offered by ZACOP’. Royter Chongo, Zambia Anglican Council Outreach Programme’s Gender Coordinator, told the story of a single mother whose life has been turned around by the gender justice programme. She said, ‘Loveness Malenga is a 41-year-old mother of nine living in the Diocese of Luapula. Loveness was married to an abusive man, who victimised both Loveness and their children. We first met Loveness when she volunteered to be a part of our Early Childhood programme in Luapula. Her husband was very against her participation in the programme and the money she was earning from this role. He would beat Loveness and burn her clothes. Community leaders alerted ZACOP to the danger Loveness was in and recommended that Loveness be the first case of ZACOP’s gender justice programme. ZACOP was able to make sure that Loveness was safe and provided her with the funds to buy seeds to harvest and sell. The money Loveness has earned from selling crops has enabled her to buy food for her children, buy a bicycle and save money. The change others have seen in Loveness’ life has inspired other women to become involved in the gender justice programme.’

Ms Chongo added, ‘ZACOP recognises the importance of involving men in gender justice. Our Men Engage Networks (MEN) encourage a 50/50 split in representation between men and women. Very few men initially wanted to be involved in our gender justice programme but we have improved male participation by providing spaces for men to talk about gender justice. We have also targeted existing male-only spaces such as the Fathers’ Union and the Boys’ Brigade, providing them with bible study guides on gender justice’. Bishop Mchombo said, ‘It is very important for men to be actively involved in gender justice, otherwise they will not learn what is right and wrong.’

Rev’d Jessie Anand, Chaplain at USPG, led a Q&A panel drawing on questions from attendees. Jessie asked the webinar speakers how they promote equality within marriage, how the Zambia Anglican Church works with other denominations to engage young people with gender justice and how the issue of women’s ordination affects the Zambia Anglican Church’s work on gender inequality.

Rachel Parry, Director of Global Relations at USPG, drew the webinar to a close by saying the Grace.

 

Speakers included:

  • The Rt Rev’d William Mchombo, Bishop of the Diocese of Eastern Zambia and Chair of the Zambia Anglican Council’s Outreach Programme
  • Mrs Felicia Sakala, Director of the Zambia Anglican Council Outreach Programme
  • Ms Royter Chongo, the Zambia Anglican Council Outreach Programme’s Gender Coordinator
  • Mr Kelvin Musongo, Head of Programmes at the Zambia Anglican Council

 

To watch the webinar, follow the link here.

To download the slides from the webinar, click here.

To download the Anglican Consultative Council and the Anglican Alliance 'Domestic Abuse and Covid-19' Resource, click here.