Gender Equality or Masculine Domination? Discourses on Gender and Religion among Religious Leaders and Lay People in Nadhi Gibe, Ethiopia

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Nega Jibat
Getnet Tadele


Gender equality is one of the global issues in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that UN members
were called upon to formulate national plans to actualize it. This article aims at examining cultural and religious
norms and practices nurturing masculine domination in the rural context of Ethiopia. It analyses how discourses
on gender and religion among religious leaders and lay people are framed and communicated in cultural
contexts in the case of Islam and Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. Sixteen interviews, four focus group
discussions, and ethnographic observations were employed to generate the necessary data. The study
participants were purposively selected. Theoretically-informed thematic analysis was employed to understand
the data and draw conclusions. Cultural and religious-based hegemonic masculine conducts and gendered
power relations are identified. Religion-based gendered power relations and inequalities are evident in people‟s
routine social interactions. Religious leaders and respective followers, including women, play a role in
nurturing gender inequality due to deeply entrenched cultural influences. Cultural and religious rules and practices
reinforce each other in shaping, justifying, and maintaining gender inequality prevailing in the community.
Religious leaders and followers consider culture, not religion, to be the source of gender inequality. However,
the study revealed that masculine domination is manifested in religious leaders and lay people‟s views and
practices. Therefore, religion also nurtures gender inequality inculcating hegemonic masculinity deliberately or
inadvertently. Religious rules, arrangements, and practices nurture culturally-informed men‟s collective and
individual dominance over women. They also reinforce women‟s endorsement of their subordination in
maintaining gender inequality.

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How to Cite
Jibat, N., & Tadele, G. (2023). Gender Equality or Masculine Domination? . The Ethiopian Journal of Social Sciences and Language Studies (EJSSLS), 10(1), 85-98. Retrieved from
Author Biographies

Nega Jibat, Jimma University

Associate Professor of Sociology at Jimma University. He is a Ph.D. student researcher at Addis Ababa University,
Department of Sociology, Ethiopia.

Getnet Tadele, Addis Ababa University,

Professor of Sociology at Addis Ababa University, South PI and Coordinator of SAFZT project and the main
supervisor of the student researcher, Ethiopia.

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