Factors Influencing Women's Non Participation in Church Administrative Leadership in the Presbyterian Church of East Africa, Milimani Presbytery, Nairobi County; 1908-2012
Wainaina, Esther Njeri
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The study set out to investigate factors that influence women’s low participation in church administrative leadership in the Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA) Milimani Presbytery. Globally, women are underrepresented in many sectors of the society, and the church is no exception. Even though there are no policies, which specifically bar women’s leadership, barriers exist beneath the surface. Women’s underrepresentation in church administrative leadership is also widely seen across churches. In the PCEA men dominate the upper echelons of leadership, a phenomenon that is currently creating considerable concern within the church circles. Despite the fact that the PCEA constitution gives opportunity to both men and women to be eligible in administrative church leadership, a low number of women have managed to enter into administrative church leadership positions. The low participation of women in administrative Church leadership reflects great disparity. The study explored how women’s low participation in administrative church leadership emanates from their place and role in society, church structure, culture and the missionary’s education influence. The theoretical framework used in this study explored patriarchal ideology by Iglitzin and Ross and gender role ideology by Peterson and Runyan as the main root of low participation of women in church administrative leadership .In total the sampled population was 150.The researcher employed descriptive survey design and data analysis used descriptive statistics, narratives and verbatim citations. The target population included members of PCEA Milimani Presbytery. The target groups comprised of the Parish Ministers, Elders, Church Group Leaders, General Assembly Officials and departmental heads and the lay women/men members. The respondents within the target groups were selected purposively based on their position in church, gender and age. Four research methods were used namely observation, questionnaire, oral interviews and document analysis. While women were found to be involved in church activities, most of them continued to hold minimal responsibility in the administrative decision–making process. It was clear from the study that, women are hardly visible in the highest courts, which is even exemplified by the historical fact that, no woman has ever been elected to the General Assembly office since the church was founded in the East Africa region in 1891. Nonetheless, majority of women dominate the church leadership service at the congregation level. To cater to the unique needs of women and men, it is incumbent upon the church to review its gender inclusiveness. The researcher recommended that; PCEA members be consciencetized on women’s participation, in order to impress the importance of women in administrative leadership positions; men and women should jointly raise the issue of women’s underrepresentation and advocate on how women will hold this administrative positions ; women should challenge oppressive culture that men are superior while women inferior with liberating power of Gospel and PCEA should encourage adoption of mandatory percentage electoral quota in administrative church leadership.