“Mainstreaming Gender Equality Is a Journey” 

Last week representatives from 18 organizations – a mix of Christian NGOs including Compassion International, Opportunity International, World Vision, World Relief, IJM, Tear Fund, Bread for the World, along with advocacy institutes, foundations, churches, and research/academia — gathered together at Wheaton College to contemplate how we might work together as our organizations navigate the shared challenges and opportunities that exist at the nexus of faith, gender, and global development.

In part motivated by the backdrop of the #MeToo movement and the political moment we are in where around the world religion is increasingly becoming a handmaid for authoritarian politics, the three organizers – Amy Reynolds, Associate Professor of Sociology at Wheaton College; Eeva Sallinen Simard, Chief of Staff at World Relief; and Emily Nielsen Jones, Founding Partner at Imago Dei Fund – convened this working group to share struggles, best practices, hopes and dreams for how we might together create greater collective impact in the ongoing journey within the Christian relief & development ecosystem to create a more just, gender-balanced world.

We came having read a shared collection of readings, and dove into a full agenda which set the table to explore various topics together, including examples of high-impact gender programing which create safe spaces for gender norm change, tools to assess and progress an organization’s own internal culture and gender-lens journey, research gaps, sensitive yet brave approaches to navigating religious/cultural obstacles within/outside our organizations, existing models of effective collaboration, and lastly next steps to continue the dialogue and create a framework for ongoing collective impact.

Tangible action steps came out of the event, including 1.) creating a statement/score card that organizations could sign onto as peer organizations seeking to continue to move forward wherever we are on the gender-lens journey and 2.) compiling a running list of research questions and resources, 3.) convening another consortium to continue the conversation, deepen the partnership, and expand the table of faith-based organizations seeking to move the gender needle forward in their own organizations and in the world.

Thank you Wheaton College for hosting and everyone for attending and adding your insights and voice to such a rich conversation!

Organizations Represented:
Compassion International
World Vision
Strategic Impact UK
Quest Church
One Day’s Wages
World Relief
International Justice Mission
Christians for Biblical Equality
University of Richmond
Bread for the World
Imago Dei Fund
Institute for Global Engagement
Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs, Georgetown University
World Faiths Development Dialogue
Opportunity International
Tearfund UK
Development Associates International
Wheaton College
Medical Teams International
Evangelicals for Social Action
Cornerstone Trust