Editorial: Gender equality should begin with religious organisations

As most of the world is well set in promoting gender equality, religious organisations have come under fire, especially from gender activists.

None was more vocal than former Irish president Mary McAleese who aimed her salvo at the Catholic Church whom she said “…has long since been a primary global carrier of the virus of misogyny”.

She was speaking at a function to celebrate International Woman’s Day in Rome, Italy. The conference, held under the theme: Why Women Matter, was supposed to be held at the Vatican but permission was refused because the former president would be on the panel.

The Catholic Church has long been adamant in allowing the ordination of women priests and women nuns at the Vatican perform menial jobs. In the other branch of Christianity, the Anglican Church, women are ordained, but it was just recently that the first woman bishop was consecrated after a long protracted battle.

In the Islamic world, the situation is worse.

But why should women sit back docilely as misogynic male spiritual leaders continue to hold them down. It will take women to take matters in their hands to have their voices heard. They should fight to have their place behind the pulpit in the Vatican and to share a mat with men in mosques.

They should not expect to be served on a silver platter but rather emulate the former Irish president who took her fight to Rome.

Discrimination in the religious world raises many questions on the sincerity of “love one another” and that all people are created equal. If religious leaders fail to put their house in order and treat women equally, they will continue to lose their moral authority of being spiritual leaders.