Faith-based organisations’ crucial role in women’s empowerment

FAITH-BASED organisations play a crucial role in women’s empowerment, says Assistant Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Veena Bhatnagar.

Ms Bhatnagar made these comments while officiating at the Sanatan Annual Convention in Samabula, Suva.

She said religion had the potential to empower women, but ignorance, media propaganda and misinterpretation of religious texts had allowed religion to be used as a cover-up to fuel conflict, war and violence.

“We need to understand that women’s full and equal participation in decision-making and in the economy, is critical for ending poverty, achieving economic growth and ensuring peaceful communities,” she said.

“Religious leaders at times also play a role in promoting intolerance of gender inequality, injustice, violence against women and discrimination, and have tremendous influence on youth and their attitudes about how we treat women and girls.

“It is important to underline here that the responsibility of expressing positive religious messages does not rest solely on the shoulders of religious leaders, but it is also the responsibility of parents to ensure that their children are being taught constructive interpretations of their faith and are respectful in the way faith is interpreted and how we treat other people including women and girls.”