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City of Banjul
Thursday, October 28, 2021

The gender dialogue and tolerance: a prerequisite to equity

It’s upon this understanding that we must face each other and make a proper dialogue on the empowerment of women within the confines of commonsense and reason. Such dialogue is imperative to the nation’s developmental process; for the discourse on development without the empowerment and elevation of women will end up in well winded dreams and rhetoric that will get the country nowhere.

 

Our society has long been debating the issue of empowering women and achieving gender equity, but somehow it always ends up boiling down to the hotly contested, but often misunderstood issue regarding theology and gender. Of course we will always find complexities regarding the theological stance on the issue of gender but it needs to be put within the proper framework, without diluting it with our emotions.

 

Theology is man’s attempt at understanding the workings and purposes of God within the cosmos. It has never been an end in itself, hence the need to circumscribe it within the folds of the greater good which is the preservation and protection of the human species. It has not been the purpose of God that there should be inequality within His creatures. So the endless polemics within the circles of certain religious leaders in an attempt to submerge the voices and callings of women is simply not right.

 

Our leaders, be they political or religious, are to be reminded of their duty to uphold the dialogue in the spirit of tolerance and reason.  The emotionalism that is pervading the leadership of both advocates and religious leaders needs to be quelled. Emotionalism has never been helpful within a proper rational dialogue. It will only fuel anger and lead to extreme hatred within those who are caught within it. By listening to each other and bringing proofs for arguments rather than blaming and emotionally attacking each other, we will get to a common ground, thus resolving much of the disputes, which are at most times nothing but empty jabbering that was the result of emotional flaring.

 

In asmuch as we want to achieve gender equity and equality, we must look at the psychodynamics that define our socio-cultural landscape and work within those bounds. It will be next to impossible to import a whole new way of dealing with problems and expect them to work for us. Every society has its own peculiarities that it doesn’t share with another, and this is a sociological fact that cannot be disputed. So the advocates for women’s rights and also the feminists, should put that into consideration, that what worked for the Western hemisphere will simply not work for us in the Third World. We must synthesise those practices of the West with our own way of doing things, without losing our identity in the process. 

 

In the end it will do us all very well to realise without doubt that religion doesn’t contravene the issue of women’s rights and our culture and tradition doesn’t either. The whole problem lies in our interpretation of those sources. The deterministic patterns that are being pursued by certain religious leaders and feminists need to be put to a halt. We live in a diverse society that is constituted by people of all shades of opinions which should be respected as well as put into the perspective of the dialogue and debate. The respect of free will in the debate will greatly help in reaching once again the common ground. The condemnation of the other will never get us there, and at this epoch of our history as a nation we need more than ever before the realization of equity and balance within the sexes. We will get there with tolerance and acceptance of otherness and diversified opinions.

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