Want better decision-making? Invite the women

Church and community mobilisationCommunityGenderRelationships

Ignekalbo Gilbert is proud that many positive changes have taken place in his village since it started a church and community mobilisation process (CCMP) in 2013.

Men and women worship together at a church in Chad. Photo: Peter Caton
Men and women worship together at a church in Chad. Photo: Peter Caton

Difficult past

Ignekalbo is a farmer. He is also president of a group known as the Youth Union for Food in Makeure, in West Mayo-Kebbi Province, Chad. 

‘Before the introduction of CCMP in our village, collaboration was a nightmare and the villagers’ social life was a mess. It was difficult for the population to work in mixed groups of men and women and different faiths,’ says Ignekalbo. 

He adds: ‘People used to hate each other so it wasn’t easy to organise community meetings. This meant we weren’t able to reflect together on the state of the village and decide on joint actions for its development.’ 

Existing community groups were categorised by gender, age and religion and each group initiated projects alone. There was no room for women to integrate with men’s groups because of tradition. And women were neglected and viewed as ‘second-class people with no intelligence’. 

Coming together

In 2013, Pastor Parmenas, who is also a CCMP facilitator, started to encourage his church in Makeure to spend more time in Bible studies. These have helped the congregation to become better aware of the value of women and the importance of building relationships with all community members irrespective of gender, age and beliefs. 

‘Once we internalised the word of God, we decided to allow women to join in with the analysis of issues we face, in decision making and in implementing church activities,’ says Ignekalbo. 

Initially, though, the women were unsure. So Pastor Parmenas continued to challenge them and also to talk with their husbands to encourage their wives to work together with the men. Gradually they integrated into what were previously all-male groups. 

‘The men created space for women and welcomed them,’ says Ignekalbo. ‘Once the women felt accepted, valued and respected, they were less reserved. They began to take an active part alongside men in different village initiatives.’ 

‘CCMP has opened our eyes and helped us to change our thinking, our attitude towards women and non-Christians, and also our actions as we work together as a community towards common goals in everyone’s interest.’

Ignekalbo Gilbert

The common achievements have been many: together drilling a borehole that provides drinking water to the population all year round; setting up a community school and building classrooms; reforestation, using community farms to provide income to support village projects, and limiting where animals can pasture to avoid conflict among community members. 

Today, women and men in the church are elected as equals at a decision-making level and in resource management bodies. And women actively participate in group discussions where they often challenge men. 

A good example

Later, when other women in the village saw what had happened, they gained confidence and started to follow the example of Christian women. 

Now men and women from different backgrounds work together as well as Christians and non-Christians, without reference to gender, age and belief. People from all walks of life occupy important positions of responsibility. 

‘As we work together with non-Christians, some of them have started to gradually come to church, whereas before, they hated Christians and did not want to hear about the church,’ says Ignekalbo. ‘The Christians also used to hate non-Christians and did not want to approach them. Now the situation has completely changed and suddenly the relationships have greatly improved. Everyone works together well for the development of the village. We are very grateful to God for that.’ 

Read more about CCMP in Africa.

This Bible study helps us explore how God views women and how we should view women.

Kal-Ignabet Pakagochy
Kal-Ignabet Pakagochy is the director of the Christian Centre of Development Support (CECADEC), one of Tearfund’s partners in Chad.