Young women in the church: challenges and opportunities

Alexandra Flury-Schölch and Salome Hengartner at the "World on the Sofa" event organized by Mission 21 in march 2023. photo Laila Danz

Alexandra Flury-Schölch and Salome Hengartner in conversation on the red sofa. Photo Laila Danz.

The church can benefit from exchange between generations. At the event "The World on the Sofa," four women from the Mission 21 network reported on their experiences as young women in the church and the challenges they encounter.

Salome Hengartner sees herself as part of a universal church. In her church commitment, the greater challenge for her is to be taken seriously as a young person, rather than specifically as a young woman. She would therefore like to have conversations at eye level between the generations. Salome is involved in Mission 21 as a youth coordinator at the annual mission synod.

For Monica Alvarez from Mexico, a gender expert on Mission 21's Gender Advisory Board, it is more difficult to be heard as a woman. Like many (young) women around the world, she is fighting to be an equal part of the church. She talks about how in Mexico, patriarchal structures can make church a place of oppression for women and LGBTQI+ people. That's why she is involved in Bible groups that develop feminist interpretations of the Bible to empower women. She hopes that by doing so, church can become a place for gender justice.

Alexandra Flury-Schölch and Claudia Buess with globe on a red sofa. Christian Weber looks over the backrest.

The World on our Sofa

The conversation on the role of young people and women in church partnership work was the first edition of the panel discussion "The World on the Sofa". With this and other formats such as the "World Arts" offering, we approach current social issues in diverse, entertaining and sometimes poetic, musical or literary ways.

More in the► Calendar of events and in our ► Education agenda.

Although Congolese churches are also patriarchally structured, Vera Schaffer, program officer for Congo at Mission 21, sees great potential in religion to address gender justice. Although she is respected in Congo because of her role representing Mission 21, she feels it is a double burden to struggle for acceptance as a young woman and as a woman. She says it feels like she always has to prove herself twice.

As head of the Women and Gender staff unit at Mission 21, Barbara Heer sees herself as a bridge builder between the generations. She says that Mission 21 is pioneering the gender mainstreaming approach. Women's advancement is no longer the only issue when it comes to gender justice, she says. However, she says it is still a big focus in many projects and a key aspect of empowering women. She thinks that the church can learn a lot from young women and young generations to initiate a sustainable change process.

Text and photo: Laila Danz, Mission 21

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