Men and Women in Inter-religious Dialogue


At the so-called weekly program, “Wednesday Forum”, on Wednesday, 22 September 2010, Dr. G.M. Speelman, a lecturer and researcher of Religious Studies and Islamic Studies at the Protestant Theological University (PThU), the Netherlands, was coming to CRCS as the speaker of the discussion. The theme brought was “Men and Women in Interreligious Dialogue “.

Approximately at 13.00 the discussion was opened by moderator Leonard C. Epaphras, SSi, MTh, an ICRS doctoral student, after previously begun with a lunch session. Through her presentation, Speelman explained that the theme she brought was based on a research which was conducted in her country, concerning the relation between men and women  in the interreligious dialogue. The result of this research is planned to be published in an international journal. And through this forum, a few points from the research would be discussed before presented on a journal.

Recently the research was undergone in the Muslims – Christians community around the city of Utrecht, involving both native and immigrant followers of the two religions. Using the  participant observation method of research, Speelman divided the people into two different groups of dialogue; group one consists  of men and women of both religions and presents heterogeneous forum, and group two consists of women only involving two women organization, Al Nisa from the Muslims community and VIO from the Christians community.

Speelman started the research upon some psychological propositions on the differences between men and women led her to acknowledge more on how a certain communication system emerged in a certain religious-themed talk. According to Speelman’s observation, in group one women seemed to be more passive and the dialogue was more dominated by men, while in group two women could be more active but the dialogue itself had a potential of conflict because the women tended to link every theme to the “feeling” of everyday life rather than to the formation of ideas that are more abstract.

At the end of the presentation, Speelman concluded whether there are some very differences in the communication system between men and women in the interreligious dialogue or not. She noted that the differences do not appear in the epistemic level, but more related to the results of the dialogue system that has been practiced. Men and women will be able to stand equally in the dialogue when the dialogue itself is designed in such a way which accommodates the conditions of each member.

The one hour presentatian was then followed by a discussion session in which some women participants were so enthusiastic. One interesting comment from Prof.. Dr. Bernard T. Adeney-Risakotta, professor at ICRS UGM, reminded that there must always be a careful way in using the psychological propositions of differences between men and women that had become common sense. The more in-depth observations are really needed in the some cases such as how the homogeneous women dialogue has a potential of conflict since the proposition explains that women tend to be avoiding conflict in a conversation.

The discussion ended at 14.30, but some women participants still seemed enthusiastic to continue the discussion with the speaker informally. Speelman informs that she will be in Indonesia for the next few months giving lectures on the same theme in several universities in Indonesia. [MoU]


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