PENAMPANG – Two women presented their views on Pope Francis’ call for women’s presence in dialogue.
“I agree with the view that women should do things from a wider perspective. I don’t limit myself to ‘feminine issues or encounters only among women,’ because it is a community issue; it is a family issue,” said Jennifer Majalap in an interview on 11 June 2017 at Kg Mogoputi at a blood donation programme run by Kesihatan.
She was commenting on Pope Francis’ address to the participants in the Plenary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue on 9 June 2017 in Rome.
In his address, the pope said, “Dialogue is a path that men and women must pursue together. Today, more than ever, it is necessary for women to be present.”
Pope Francis added that women, “possessing specific characteristics, can offer an important input in dialogue, with their capacity for listening, acceptance, and opening up generously to others.”
Majalap said that she was led to see more than “just trafficked women who are robbed of their rights and dignity” when she first got involved with trafficked women under the purview of the Human Development Commission.
She said that it led to the exposition of issues related to migration such as discrimination, exploitation, and extortion.
Majalap admitted that dialogues at different levels – locals, government, police, NGOs – are not easy but fear of intimidation can be overcome, “We do what we do from the Gospel perspective, and the persepctive of the social teaching of the Church.”
She said she has learned much from her own exposure in working as part of a team under the Kota Kinabalu Archdiocesan Human Development Commission, as well as from other NGOs, in particular, the issues monitored by the commission involving migrants, substance abuse, culture, and economic empowerment of the poor.
Majalap said that dialogue with the downtrodden often exposes “our fear of having our rights and lands taken away because we only want to protect our rights and interests.”
She has encountered threats during her social work but they do not stop her because she fears God and is convinced that to love God one must love one’s neighbour.
She believes that good can only come out of dialogue because the more one dialogues, the better one is rid of fear which arises out of presumption.
On the other hand, Joannti Jerry, secretary of St Bernadette KUK in Kg Moguputi (or BEC) said it is good for women to be involved in dialogue at the highest levels because they can be Christ’s witnesses in upholding justice to champion the rights of women and men.
“Through dialogues, we provide relevant information and create awareness to those who do not know where they should go for help,” said Jerry.
“Undeniably, I encounter many challenges and difficulties when I became active in the BEC group, as well as the development committee of the community (JKKK). I have encountered rejection and non-acceptance of our attempts to dialogue,” she admitted, saying that at times when it is not easy to offer advice or opinions, all that she could do was to be just a listener and to include the troubled in her daily prayer. – CS