Carla Cerpa, Con-spirando Collective, Chile

Some 48 women from three different municchileipalities of Santiago attended the Courses on Feminist Theology and Leadership organised by the Con-spirando Collective. Issues included leadership and self-care, gender and theology, and computer literacy. Participants highly valued the learning process and the school’s two levels – one theoretical and the other practical, which taught concrete tools for facilitating women’s leadership. The course underscored subjective experience and corporality as primary point of departure, and self-care was also considered key.

Conducting the course in two different environments – Evangelical Pentecostal and lay community organisations – enabled us to acknowledge different needs in context and offer interpretations accordingly.

We discovered that women in leadership positions and community organisation leaders are integrated in the government system in a kind of mutual dependence. On the one hand, women receive resources from local government for activities, while the local governments need to form alliances with community organisations in order to attain their goals and implement their programmes. Frequently such courses reproduce systems of dependence and assistance and fail to develop critical thinking and the capacity for reflection. Consequently, they fail to address concerns such as human rights, women’s movement, information and hard facts. In addition there is a lack of analysis of context and political reflection about national reality.

This assessment generated ideas regarding what topics should be addressed in future training workshops.

In addition, we observe how hegemonic gender models are reproduced, as women are overstrained by having to balance their multiple roles as wife, mother, housewife and leader. Our course strives to recognise how roles and gender stereotypes develop in daily life.