Gender Revised!? | 2012

Christian youth in Europe gathers to discuss gender issues

From 11th – 18th of November 2012 Ecumenical Youth Council in Europe (EYCE) in cooperation with World Student Christian Federation Europe (WSCF-E) conducted a study session “Gender: Revised?!” The study session took place in European Youth Centre Budapest, Hungary and gathered 26 young people from 19 countries to discuss different aspects of gender and its perception in modern society with emphasis on theological reflection and protection of human rights.
The event was thematically inspired by a manual by World Council of Churches (WCC) “Created in God’s Image: From Hegemony to Partnership”, which underlines the need to develop a sense of positive masculinity in order to counter increasing levels of violence by men against women. Furthermore, the concept of gender was addressed not in terms of physical embodiment of a human being, which viewed as biological sex, but in terms of gender identities going beyond the physical body to social, religious and private life of an individual and strongly shaping one’s identity in a positive manner.
Among participants were young people from Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Italy, Lebanon, Lithuania, Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, UK, and Ukraine, including international planning committee and facilitators Adriana Florea (EYCE Vice-Chairperson, Romania), Armine Babajanyan (WSCF-E, Armenia), Zara Lavchyan (Educational Advisor of Council of Europe, Armenia), Tom Henderson (WSCF-E, UK), Karolis Skausmenis (EYCE, Lithuania), Kenneth Quek (EYCE, Finland)
During the study session the historical, theological and legal aspects of gender issues were discussed. By the means of different non-formal education activities as lectures, workshops, presentations, gender café and role games the recognition and positive use of gender plurality was enhanced among the participants, in order to further promote an inclusive view of all gender identities and to build gender partnerships in society and churches. The whole week of the study session was spent in warm and friendly atmosphere with mutual respect and tolerance.
Several guest speakers gave the thematic input towards the content of the study session: Ms. Erika Kispeter, a PhD gender researcher at the Central European University explored the history of gender discourse, Mr. Menno Ettema, educational advisor of Council of Europe (CoE) reported about projects of CoE aimed combating domestic violence, and Ms. Marta Varnagyi from the WSCF-Europe shared her experience in practical implementation of gender-based projects.
The main conclusion of the “Gender: Revised?!” study session was the imperative of gender partnerships enabling all humans to participate fully and equally in domestic, labour, social, and religious life. From theological perspective this envisages life in Christ or Imitatio Christi: no male–no female, but all in one in Christ, therefore the partnership can be achieved by mutual respect. From legal perspective gender partnership must be based on right to equality guaranteed by each state, freedom from discrimination and freedom of belief and religion. We are all responsible for respect and defending each others human rights.
The participants contributed actively to the process of the study session with their experiences and knowledge of the subject, and enriched the atmosphere of the event greatly with creative approaches to the activities.
EYCE and WSCF-E would like to take this opportunity and warmly thank Euroepan Youth Centre Budapest for their great support.