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Struggling with ‘this gender relations thing’ in the Papua New Guinea Church Partnership Program

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Gender equality and women's empowerment has become a cornerstone for successful development. Religious teachings and practices, like ‘traditional culture’, are often viewed as contributing to gender inequality and oppression. The increased engagement by donor agencies with religious organisations prompts questions about how religion, gender and development intersect in particular places, and the implications this intersection has for the transnational ‘gender agenda’ of development agencies. This article focuses on the dialogue about gender in the Papua New Guinea Church Partnership Program. Analysing the struggles taking place, it argues that the processes that shaped local Christianities are also at work in the churches' translations of the ‘gender agenda’. These churches are gradually emerging as agents for gender justice as they develop their own approaches to gender work that support the churches' mission to ‘live the Gospel’ in their practice of holistic integral human development. However, to progress further, in recognising the necessity for men to lead the struggle for gender justice, the dialogue must focus on the personal transformation of men in relation to their understanding of masculinities and gendered power dynamics. From this foundation, structural and political change can be advanced.
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Keywords: Papua New Guinea; Papúa Nueva Guinea; asociación; churches; desarrollo; development; gender; género; iglesias; partnership; traducción; translation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: State, Society and Governance in Melanesia Program, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia

Publication date: November 26, 2015

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