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Journal of Social Development in Africa

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Gender and leadership in Christian religious circles in Africa

Vivian Besem Ojong

Abstract


This paper looks at the implications of “the conservative practice of having mostly male leadership in Christian religious circles”. There seems to be a vibrant market of spiritualism in Africa (discourses and popular), with women leadership in churches observed and commented on by many, but remains aloof in terms of the statistics. Women have been prominent in early Christian religion, especially in the intimate circle of Jesus, with examples like Mary Magdalene. However, the patriarchal nature of society and church structures has meant women continue to remain at the margins of church leadership, with only a few extraordinary women being visible at the top of leadership structures. Despite efforts made by some Christian religious organisations for the inclusion of women in leadership positions, the glass ceiling remains. Women continue to be invisible in decision-making positions and the picture painted by this review is the state of Christian leadership. The review raises pertinent questions on the continuous predominance of men in church leadership and whether women possess disproportionate ability to lead Christians as opposed to their male counterparts. Using a sample of one hundred churches in some countries in Southern Africa, the paper paints a non-transformative structure of Christian church leadership.

Key words: Gender, religion, female leadership, Christianity, religion, churches.




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