The Quran and the Bible are not widely regarded as gender equality documents, but in Indonesia, Solomon Islands, and remote Indigenous communities in Australia, these religious texts are being used to combat the very problems religious institutions often condone: gender inequality and gender-based violence.
Faith and spirituality are deeply twined into the cultural fabric of these places. As a result, the language of custom and religion has much greater resonance than the vernaculars of human rights, law and feminism. In order to understand why faith is so central, how it has re-aligned with progressive values, and what role it must play in development efforts, we go on a five-person pilgrimage through the region. We speak with Dina Lumbantobing, co-founder of the Indonesian NGO, PASADA; Lies Marcoes, Executive Director of Indonesian policy institute, Rumahkitab; Tri Hastuti Nur Rochimah from the Aisyiyah National Board; Solomon Islands theologian Rev. Cliff Bird; and Grant Paulson, a Birri-gubba and Bundjalung man who works as faith and development adviser for World Vision Australia.
Please be aware that this episode contains descriptions of sexual violence.
Recommended reading: We’ve gathered together extra reflections on the topic for the Devpolicy blog.
Behind the curtain: We are on air thanks to the ANU’s Development Policy Centre.
Visual credits: Lies Marcoes facilitates a discussion on child marriage prevention with religious leaders and government officials in Cirebon West Java. Photo courtesy of Lies Marcoes.