The Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology (EGST) in collaboration with Evangelical Churches Fellowships of Ethiopia (ECFE) organized a consultation workshop on tackling gender inequality and Harmful Traditional Practices (HTP) on December 29, 2017 at Friendship International Hotel, Addis Ababa.
The workshop targeted on the roles of evangelical theological college leaders (Principals and Deans) and Instructors coming from more than ten seminaries to consult on how they can impact church and society in relation to social problems. A total of 38 participants took part in the consultation.
On the workshop, a paper on The Role of Theological Institutions in Promoting Gender Equality through Biblical Interpretation was presented by Dr. Desta Heliso, former Director of EGST and current PhD Programme Coordinator. In his presentation, Dr. Desta asserted his view that the social problems in discussion arise from “our understanding of the social position of women and men” and that “our commitment to deal with gender issues depends on whether or not we accept patriarchy and androcentrism in our society as biblical or unbiblical”. Therefore, says Dr. Desta, the role of theological institutions in tackling social problems and promoting gender equality in church and society comes through developing strong and responsible scriptural interpretative and theological framework through which “women are empowered to overcome the socio-cultural and theological challenges and bring out their intellectual and creative potential for the full societal flourishing”.
Dr. Desta emphasizes that, as theological leaders, we must accept that our misguided theological anthropology concerning gender is the root cause of the cultural androcentric belief and it can be corrected “mainly through developing scriptural interpretative frameworks and theological ideas in a responsible and contextually relevant manner”. In his recommendation, Dr. Desta called for a continued discussion among the theological institutions in a sustained manner with clearly defined goals so that they can develop strong commitment towards addressing social problems in a relevant way.
Practical experiences on tackling social problems and promoting gender equality were also shared from Addis Ababa Bible College (ABC) by Pastor Sinishat Teka, Academic Dean and from EGST by Ato Addise Amado, Head of Development and Communications
All of the presentations were followed by discussions on collaboration and strategy for future engagement. At the end of the meeting, a theological taskforce team consisting of representatives from eight colleges was established to further work on the issue.