Feminism and Religion (FER) Online School



Why feminism and religion

In a region where almost 90 percent of people declare themselves to be believers and where secular laws based on international human rights norms and freedoms are in force, it is important, through the confrontation of feminist and religious perspectives, to open a space for dialogue, meeting, learning and questioning on how to arrive at new ways of understanding rights and freedoms, especially for minorities. This is of increasing urgency considering the strengthening of nationalist and fundamentalist ideologies, patriarchal at their core, which promote the re-traditionalisation of women’s position in both family and in society.   Despite the growing number of women who actively participate in public and political life, women are often faced with contradictions regarding gender equality arising from the secular legislation which is based on international standards of human rights and freedoms, but also on religious teachings. To be able to meet the challenges put before them, it is important for women to be acquainted with religious-based gender stereotypes and the possibilities of their deconstruction in the spirit of their own religious traditions and to question the asymmetry of power and the violence against women which is present both in secular and religious spheres of life.   
Built on the “Both believers and citizens" programme developed by Prof. Dr. Zilka Spahić Šiljak and scientific advisor Ph.D. Jadranka Rebeka Anić in 2008, it was supported by Ecumenical Women's Initiative from 2016 to 2020 during which time 110 women participated in multiple courses. The great interest shown in the programme as well as the lack of academic programmes on issues of gender and religion in the region, motivated the creation of the on-line school in 2021.

FER On-line school

The approach is primarily intended for those who look to academically question their beliefs, attitudes, knowledge and practices about human rights and freedoms and who want to research how gender stereotypes shape the lives of women and men in the family and society. The cutting edge courses topics offered are researched, written, structured and presented by prominent feminist thinkers in the region - Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, Muslim, Jewish and atheist - who deliver new insights and innovative perspectives on a range of topics each structured into 14-week cycles. In addition, short podcasts have been developed to enable easy access to key topics without committing to a full academic course. In the first full year (2022), 245 women and men successfully completed one or more of the courses offered.

Courses

The approach is primarily intended for those who look to academically question their beliefs, attitudes, knowledge and practices about human rights and freedoms and who want to research how gender stereotypes shape the lives of women and men in the family and society. The cutting edge courses topics offered are researched, written, structured and presented by prominent feminist thinkers in the region - Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, Muslim, Jewish and atheist - who deliver new insights and innovative perspectives on a range of topics each structured into 14-week cycles. In addition, short podcasts have been developed to enable easy access to key topics without committing to a full academic course. In the first full year (2022), 245 women and men successfully completed one or more of the courses offered.

 

1. History of Feminism in the West and East
Historical frameworks and different social contexts of the origin and development of feminist thought and movements in the West and East, with a special focus on the development of feminism in the former Yugoslavia and in Muslim countries.


2. Sociology of Gender
Exploration of the basic assumptions of the sociological understanding and study of gender and gender roles with an accent on sociological studies of the relationship between gender and religion.


3. Philosophy of Gender
Presentation of the basic problems of feminist philosophy are presented, including analysis of how patriarchy shaped philosophy.

 

4. Feminist Theology in Christianity and Islam
As there is no single feminist theology, the course acquaints participants with the basics and contemporary trends of feminist Christian and Islamic theology.

 

5. Anthropology: a Philosophical Christian-Islamic Perspective in Dialogue with Modern Science
An alternative argumentation for gender equality through the deconstruction of the philosophical legacy of Aristotle and the cultural norms and customs that have become an integral part of the Christian and Islamic traditions.

 

6. Gender, Religion and Violence
Introduction to theoretical and empirical understandings of gender, gender identities, stereotypes and roles that have contributed to the emergence of gender-based violence for centuries.

 

7. Gender, Religion and Media
A reflection on the relationship between gender, media and religion focusing on the (stereotypical) representation of women in the media, the place and role of women in  Christian media, and the presence of women theologians in the secular media.

 

8. Gender, Religion and Peacebuilding
Gender dynamics of conflicts and peacebuilding and the ways in which they affect women and men during and after conflict, focusing on a gender inclusive understanding of peacebuilding, peace theories, and secular and religious resources for peacebuilding.

 

9. Gender, Culture and Spirituality (currently in development)
Interdisciplinary cultural, gender and literary insights into the question of spirituality from several directions.

 

10. Gender and Judaism
Investigating the role of gender in the Jewish tradition, gender differences based on patriarchal values, the place and role of the Jewish woman in the family and community in different historical periods of the development of Judaism from its beginnings to the present day.



The courses are currently offered in Croatian/Bosnia/Serbian.
FER Online School has been developed by Prof. Dr. Zilka Spahić Šiljak and Ph.D. Jadranka Rebeka Anić in partnership with the Ecumenical Women’s Initiative and TPO fondacija, Sarajevo.
For more information: https://ferskola2022.onlinebase.net/

Ph.D. Jadranka Rebeka Anić & Prof. Dr. Zilka Spahić Šiljak
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