Code of Conduct on how to prevent sexual harassment. Adopted by the Mission Council of the EMS in November 2019 in Hohenwart/Germany.
The EMS Women and Gender Unit is part of a worldwide movement for greater gender justice. Gender justice is achieved when all people can lead a life free from discrimination and violence – regardless of which gender they feel they belong to, or their sexual orientation.
“Instead of being a man or a woman, I have decided to be a Christian.”
Read the Bible through the Eyes of Another (page 96)
Gender justice is a mission, which is taken into consideration in every programme and every area within the EMS. As such, the EMS has adopted guidelines that contribute to achieving a greater equality in the ratio between genders in the worldwide EMS Fellowship. The endeavour to use gender-appropriate language within the EMS also takes account of the diversity of genders, which includes more than just women and men.
Systematic Promotion of Women
As gender justice is an important prerequisite for sustainable development, the EMS systematically promotes women in its member churches. This is made possible through an international network of women in Africa, Asia and Europe, as well as designated, gender-sensitive indicators in project funding or support.
This way, young women are given a school education and vocational training, significantly increasing their chances on the labour market. One way the Evangelical Mission in Solidarity supports its member churches is by setting up women’s centres and rehabilitation centres, at which help is given to Christian, Hindu and Muslim women who are suffering through poverty, a lack of education or violence. Many other projects stem from the initiative of women – for example, the Sive School for the Deaf and the Masangane AIDS Programme in South Africa, or the work being done with disabled children on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.
In the EMS Fellowship, women contribute significantly to community life by performing many social welfare and pastoral duties. Despite this, only a few of them hold executive positions in church hierarchies. Although women often suffer poverty and violence, they develop incredible strength and skills. Women from the south and north need to meet, in order to learn from each other and exchange views. For this reason, the Women and Gender Unit promotes reciprocal visits and international networks among women from the churches and mission societies within the EMS in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
The International Women's Network cultivates the cooperation with liaison officers in its member churches: Rebecca Abladey (PCG, Ghana), Dr J. Jasmine Alley (CSI, India), Dr Rima Nasrallah (NECB, Lebanon), Buyiswa Sambane (MCSA, South Africa), Dr Lydia Tandirerung (STT INTIM, Indonesia). They form a bridge between their churches and the EMS Gender Unit.
The women’s advisory board, with delegates from southwest German member churches, mission societies and associations, monitors and supports the Women and Gender Unit. Each year, two meetings are held at the secretariat in Stuttgart. Since 2017, women’s conferences have taken place every two years in the run-up to the EMS General Meeting. The conferences are also attended by women on the advisory board, liaison officers, and the (female) delegates at the General Meeting.
Here we introduce you to three members of the women's network in turn.
- Dr. Rima Nasrallah
Rev. Dr. Rima Nasrallah is a liaison officer at the National Evangelical Church of Beirut (NECB) in Lebanon. Since December 2018, she has also been spokesperson for the international EMS Women’s Network.
Rima Nasrallah completed her theological studies at the Near East School of Theology (NEST) in Beirut in 2003. She was then head of Religious Pedagogy and Spiritual Life at the NECB for five years. She then spent several years studying for a doctorate in the Netherlands. Rima Nasrallah has been a lecturer at the NEST in Beirut since 2014.
On 11th November 2018, she took up her position as pastor within the National Evangelical Church of Beirut (NECB). Dr. Nasrallah is the first woman to be ordained by the Lebanese EMS member church, the NECB – and the third female pastor to be ordained in the whole of the Middle East. Dr. Nasrallah is keen to stress that the fact that women can also hold ecclesiastical positions is something that must first be imprinted in the way that Arabic Christians feel and think.
- Dr. Lidya K. Tandirerung
Theologian Lidya K. Tandirerung has been a liaison officer for the nine Indonesian member churches in the international women’s network since 2018. She is a lecturer at the Theological Seminary of Eastern Indonesia (STT INTIM) in Makassar.
Her specialist areas are religious studies, ecumenism, feminist theology, and gender justice. She is involved with the Network of Women Theologians in Indonesia (PERUATI) and the Interfaith Women Network for the Study of Religion and Culture. As a lecturer, she takes part in interreligious exchange programmes and regularly teaches at the Alauddin Islamic State University in Makassar.
“It is particularly important to me to make the views of women heard in international debates on religion and culture,” says Lidya Tandirerung. “At the moment, I am primarily busy with the issue of sexual abuse and violence, and how this is dealt with in different cultures.”´
- Dr. Jasmine Alley
Theologian Jasmine Alley is a liaison officer for the Church of South India (CSI). Since June 2019, she has officially been the General Secretary of the CSI Women’s Fellowship in South India, which is based in Bangalore.
Jasmine Alley grew up in the Indian state of Kerala. Two of her siblings are also active within the church. After graduating from the University of Kerala, she studied Theology, completing her diploma at Serampore College in the state of West Bengal. Alley then worked in a wide range of different roles in the Kerala diocese – for example, as a teacher and head of a Bible school, as a university pastor, and as a lecturer at various theological institutes.
“It is important to me to bring women of all levels into contact with each other – in order to exchange experiences and learn from one another,” says Jasmine Alley on her work.
For 30 years now, OUR VOICES has been the publication of the EMS Women's Network. Once a year, the magazine offers space for voices and contributions from the international EMS Women's Network – each on a key topic. In 1992, the first issue was published in English, later a German translation was added and since 2006 there has also been an Indonesian version. The current issue, celebrating the 30th anniversary in 2022, has also been translated into Arabic for the first time. In four languages, women explore the question of what churches and congregations can do against gender-based violence.
Gender Policy and Code of Conduct
The EMS approved the first version of the document “Gender Policy – Guidelines for more gender justice” in November 2006. The Mission Council then submitted the second, linguistically-updated, version in November 2015. The Gender Policy does not define gender as one specific area of responsibility, but as a cross-sectional task that must be taken account of in all programmes and all areas.
“Within churches, it is a special responsibility of people in positions of power to emulate Christ by not abusing the imbalance in relationships, but by acting respectfully towards each other and monitoring the implementation of the guidelines.”
The guidelines ensure that this issue is rooted in the international and ecumenical fellowship of the EMS. This way, the EMS is also tackling the challenge of considering and conceiving gender justice in intercultural dimensions. This requires the courage to not only question things that one may consider matter of course, but also to touch on the question of equality in cross-cultural dialogue.
In June 2019, the EMS Mission Council unanimously approved the draft for a new code of conduct regarding sexual abuse. This is a five-page guideline document regarding the fundamental and practical prevention of sexual abuse, and how to deal with any incidents of sexual abuse during events and programmes, for which the EMS is responsible.
Thank you for your interest in the work of the EMS Gender Desk. If you have any general questions, please use the contact form below. We are also happy to help you personally if you have any questions or require further information – by phone or by E-mail.