Many cultures, including African ones, have generally considered the difference between the genders as a distinction in value, not just role.
Valuing one gender over another fosters a wrong mindset with several implications. First, if we elevate the value of being male over female, women are exploited as men deem fit. Likewise, if we elevate the importance of being female over male, men are managed as women deem fit.
In Africa, there has been a tendency for Western women who have felt victimized to lead female empowerment programs. Understandably, we tend to have a passion for the very things we have been freed from, however, this often leads to overcompensation for issues that we hold dear. The reality may cause an unbalance in compassionate care that further embeds a victim mindset. Many remain in the dark about the gender divide, which additionally causes alienation and is counterproductive to gender equality.
While working on the compound of a Sudanese orphanage, Tom Kilian, founder of Mercy Partners, noticed that western culturalization began to influence the orphans. Young girls would receive extra attention while the boys began to harbor resentment towards them. Tom and Sandie Kilian designed character lessons to address the gender gap, which spring-boarded MERCY PARTNERS Gender Reconciliation Initiative. A compilation of lessons to address gender equality which had been fueled by Sandie's exposure to Corrie Ten Boom when visiting Corrie's girlhood town. Corrie was a Christian survivor of the holocaust, and although she could have had the mind of a victim, she chose to see herself as a victor in Christ Jesus.
Tom and Sandie's Gender Reconciliation Initiative provides valuable instruction and guidance for girls and boys to have mutual respect and capitalize on their physiological differences that the world desires to blur. The initiative is becoming a core program of MERCY PARTNERS' work.
"I had believed that men are taken to be superior to women in my village. Women are meant to be in the kitchen, in the garden, and to take care of children, just as I believed that men sit down and wait for food since they supply the money for feeding. I now understand that each of us has different jobs but at different times. The culture that I was born into poisoned my first outlook on gender. If a woman gives birth to a boy, the culture celebrates, but if it is a girl, the woman is left to sort herself. Christian culture is not like that. Women empowerment classes have told us we have special rights, which is not true either. In God's word within the letter to the Galatians, it's told how there can be no division of male and female in Christ's family. We are equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ, although we may have different roles, tasks, and duties." - (Name Withheld)
There is healing for boys and girls, women and men, by teaching God's intention for gender.
"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” – Galatians 3:28 (ESV)