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Overcoming Women's Subordination in the Igbo African Culture and in the Catholic Church

Envisioning an Inclusive Theology with Reference to Women

by Rose N. Uchem

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Pub date: 2001
Pages: 261
ISBN-10: 1581121334
ISBN-13: 9781581121339
Categories: Philosophy & TheologyPhilosophy, & TheologyPolitical Science


When African scholars lament over the near destruction of African cultures, they do not reflect the reality of African women's historical traditions of empowerment and inclusion in pre-colonial/pre-Christian African societies, which were also lost in the same process of Western Christian cultural imperialism. Similarly, most male Church theologians writing or speaking about inculturation do not address the deeper cultural issues, which impact heavily on African women. As Nigerian theologian, Rose Mary Edet rightly observed, "policy-related and other research projects concerned with "women in development" often uncover cultural factors without associating them with religious beliefs and myths that rule women's lives" (in Life, women and culture, 1991, Introduction). Yet, these deeper cultural issues sabotage certain efforts by Church and non-governmental organizations to improve the lot of women. Therefore, unless these religious beliefs and myths operating both within the Church and in African cultures are identified and reconstructed, they will continue to undermine all efforts at women's overall development.

This dissertation - Overcoming Women's Subordination in the Igbo African Culture and in the Catholic Church: Envisioning an Inclusive Theology with Reference to Women examines the problem of women's cultural subordination within the context of African history as well as United Nations' global facts and statistics about women. This scholarly work is situated in concrete research through personal interviews with Igbo African women living in the United States. It focuses on the subtle biblical and cultural myths by which women are manipulated to accept their own oppression, to cooperate in maintaining it, and to resist their liberation. The work identifies these cultural and religious myths which elude the attention of many advocates of women's cause. It reconstructs these paradigms in the light of the inclusive and egalitarian ethos of the early Jesus' movement and pre-colonial Igbo African society as resources for women's empowerment today. In the light of her findings, the author makes some very strong proposals, which have high potentials for overcoming the pervasive and extensive negative effects of women's cultural subordination worldwide.