Meet our Nigerian Masters student Dr Funmi Para-Mallam

I’m a Professor of Gender and Development, women’s ministry leader and social activist - for over 30 years I’ve worked for the Nigerian government’s National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, where I’m a Senior Fellow in the Directorate of Research. This year I was also elected chair of the steering committee of the Nigeria chapter of the African Women’s Leadership Network, and I’m National Co-ordinator of ‘Christian Women for Excellence and Empowerment in Nigerian Society’, which focuses on women’s empowerment, gender-based violence and female leadership development.

I’ve studied French and Portuguese, law and diplomacy, and development, and am a Visiting Scholar at Columbia University, New York and an alumna of the Harvard Kennedy School Senior Executive Fellows programme.

I’m on study leave with All Nations, doing an MTh in Contextual Theology - I hope to do my dissertation around issues of power, gender and violence.

I’d like to use skills gained from studying contextual theology to write and develop a culturally relevant curriculum for studying and explaining how gender justice is integral to a gospel of peace. This is important because critical and constructive engagement of theology with gender issues is extremely uncommon in Nigeria. Most of the material available on the topic is from Western sources, which is part of the problem. Gender discourse is generally viewed with suspicion and perceived as a liberal Western strategy to get the church to adopt feminist heresy. I want to change this negative perception by contextualising gender and theology in African philosophical thought and historical and contemporary realities - there’s an urgent need for this. My long-term goal is to integrate gender and theology studies into female leadership development programmes. I hope to produce theologically sound, Africa-focused course material for studying gender and society in Nigerian theological seminaries and Bible schools…

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