Solidarity and Sustainability
A Newsletter on the Socio-Ecological Impacts of Religious Patriarchy

Volume 1 - Number 1 - May 2005
Luis T. Gutierrez

The primary goal of this research is to facilitate progress in the path from patriarchy to solidarity, sustainability, and sustainable development. This journey attempts to understand how to mitigate all manner of patriarchal and misogynic barriers to human development and, in particular, how to overcome the enormous obstacles caused by religious patriarchy. There is no pressumption of new discoveries. Rather, it is a matter of integrating existing knowledge (including empirical evidence) that true religion can never be an obstacle to human development. The United Nations "Millennium Development Goals" (MDGs) are used as point of reference.


It is estimated that there are currently 100 million children who never go to school -- and most of them are girls. Gender inequality starts early and is a pervasive global issue. It ranges from brutal domination to subtle forms of benign contempt. The reasons are complex, and involve both social and religious factors. These reflections will be an attempt to elucidate the root cause(s) of this regressive situation. We start by trying to understand the meaning and value of cross-gender solidarity.

One of the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is to make progress toward gender equality and the advancement of women. Objective evidence demonstrates that cross-gender solidarity, and therefore human solidarity and sustainable development, cannot be achieved without a significant mitigation of patriarchal and misogynic domination. Some progress toward gender equality is being made in social institutions. However, most religious institutions still refuse to have women in roles of religious significance.

Religious institutions have an enormous positive influence on social behavior; but their influence on gender equality has been, and still is, mostly negative. Patriarchal religions perpetuate the exclusion of women from roles of religious authority, thereby obscuring the maternal face of God. It is proposed that such practices, driven by an antediluvian mindset that has nothing to do with the divine plan for humanity, have a nefarious influence on social and cultural progress. Let us examine why is it that the patriarchal-misogynic mindset persists in many religious institutions; how it inhibits progress toward social solidarity and global sustainability; and how it might be possible to mitigate all forms of religious patriarchy-misogyny, for the glory of God and the good of humanity.








Patriarchy is the systematic domination of women by men [01]. Religious patriarchy is the systematic exclusion of women from roles of religious authority, often based on the presupposition that God is male. Genesis 3:16 may be a reference to the origin of this social and religious disorder, but the fact is that the patriarchal mindset is shared by most religious traditions, including Judaism, Hinduisim, Christianity, Buddhism, and Islam, to mention just a few. Religious patriarchy is an enormous obstacle to cross-gender solidarity. It should be noted that patriarchy takes shape in the structure of religious institutions, and current practices may or may not be essential to the origins of some religious traditions. A significant amount of scholarly research on this issue is currently underway. A broad consensus is already emerging [01] that patriarchal religious structures are not an expression of divine law; rather, they are the result of historical events driven by human decisions.

Misogyny is an exaggerated pathological aversion towards women [02]. Religious misogyny is a byproduct of religious patriarchy. The masculinization of God, and the exclusion of women from roles of religious authority, lead to a mindset whereby men are God-like, women are not God-like, and therefore men are superior to women. Religious misogyny is a most perplexing phenomenon in human history and, in particular, in the history of most religious traditions. It may be the most harmful kind of misogyny to both men and women, specially at the psychological and spiritual levels [03]. It destroys cross-gender solidarity, thereby inflicting deep wounds on all other forms of human solidarity. It is pervasive in both religion and society. It is, to be sure, the deepest wound common to humankind. When male-female solidarity is broken, the resulting wounds are not only between people but within people. When the "unity in diversity" between men and women is broken, human behavior cannot be wholesome, and all human relations are broken.


The advancement of women is still inhibited (and, in some cases, forbidden) by the patriarchal mentality [04]. This is a fact for which there is no scarcity of objective evidence. The data of experience is overwhelming. Numerical data is fragmentary, but significant progress is being made by the United Nations and other institutions to collect quantitative data and trends. Consider the following tabulation:

Gender Equity Indicator Lowest
Ratio of girls to boys in primary education 0.63 0.95 1.03 163 2001
Ratio of girls to boys in secondary education 0.46 0.69 1.39 144 2001
Ratio of girls to boys in tertiary education 0.15 1.13 3.36 116 2001
Ratio of literate women to literate men 0.42 0.93 1.09 123 2004
Women's share in salaried office employment (%) 6.1 40.26 55.9 136 2003
National parliament seats held by women (%) 0 14.43 49 182 2005
U.N. Gender Equity Index (combined male-female parity in economic, political, and resource decisions) 0.123 0.551 0.908 78 2003
Source: United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD), 2005

Note 1: The Gender Equity Index (GEI) is a composite index of women's opportunities. It reflects the combination of three main factors: political participation and decision-making authority, economic participation and decision-making authority, and decision-making authority over all resources (economic, environment, energy, etc.). There are several versions of this index, and it is usually calculated as the average of gender and wealth (ratio of female to male income), gender and knowledge (ratio of female to male school enrollment rates), and gender and community (ratio of seats held by women to seats held by men in national parliament held by women). A higher value indicates better gender equity.

Note 2: The gender equity goal is GEI=1 (100%). The GEI can be extended to include a fourth factor, the ratio of women to men in official roles of religious authority. The goal is still 100% but, in most religious bodies, it is abismally low, either zero or close to zero. Specifically, it is zero is the two largest religious bodies: Islam and the Roman Catholic Church (over one billion people each).

Table 1 - Some effects of patriarchy-misogyny on gender equity

These trends cannot be reversed by technological fixes. They expose a lack of solidarity between men and women, which is the most fundamental form of solidarity. This lack of solidarity is rooted (as we shall see) in the archaic notion that women are inferior to men. All other forms of patriarchal behavior are but mutations of the same root cause, which is the lack of male-female solidarity. Patriarchal behavior is manifested in many different ways: abuse of women, domestic violence, abuse of wealth and power, disregard for human rights, letting people go hungry when food is available, terrorism, and many other forms of individual misbehavior and social disfunction. There are many variations in the religious mosaic of humanity, due to cultural, ethnic, and regional factors. To a significant extent, however, the patriarchal mindset seems to be a common denominator in all the major religious traditions. The following table offers a synopsis of the current situation with regard to religious patriarchy:

Major Religious Traditions
(others to be added later)
Religious Literacy of Girls/Women Religious Ministry by Women Religious Authority of Women
Judaism - there are several branches Limited Limited Limited +
Christianity - Independent Catholic Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Christianity - Old Catholic (Utrecht) Unlimited Unlimited Limited +
Christianity - Roman Catholic Unlimited Limited None
Christianity - Eastern Orthodox Unlimited Limited None
Christianity - Anglican Communion Unlimited Unlimited Limited +
Christianity - Liberal Protestant Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Christianity - Conservative Protestant Limited Limited Limited
Islam - there are many branches Very Limited None None
1. Judaism - Patriarchal, only boys used to get formal education, but women now recognized as fully human, and some branches now have women rabbis.
2. Independent Catholic - Patriarchal, women now recognized as fully human, and most independent catholic jurisdictions have started ordaining women.
3. Old Catholic (Utrecht) - Patriarchal, women now recognized as fully human, and some Old Catholic jurisdictions have started ordaining women.
4. Roman Catholic - Patriarchal, women now recognized as fully human, but cannot be ordained.
5. Eastern Orthodox - Patriarchal, male-female parity still unfolding, women cannot be ordained.
6. Anglican Communion - Patriarchal, full male-female parity, women can be ordained in several provinces.
7. Liberal Protestant - Patriarchal, full male-female parity, women can be ordained in many denominations, some started as early as the 1800s.
8. Conservative (Evangelical) Protestant - Patriarchal, male-female parity still unfolding, women generally cannot be ordained.
9. Islam - Patriarchal, only boys get formal education; women generally not allowed to lead public prayers.
10. The "+" signs indicate a currently increasing trend.
11. NB: This table is just my personal perception of the current situation. There are many variations and exceptions. However, the overall picture is one of patriarchal dominance. This has been the situation for a very long time, and resistance to change is intense. This patriarchal mindset has had, and continues to have, a huge negative influence on cross-gender solidarity, as shown in Table 1. It is reasonable to think that social patriarchy and religious patriarchy reinforce each other. But, at the moment, social institutions appear to be more willing to make progress toward gender equity.

Table 2 - Religious patriarchy, cross-gender solidarity, and human development

It is to be noted, that the percent of positions of religious authority (and religious significance) occupied by women in most religious institutions would be zero worldwide -- with few exceptions -- if the data were available. Specifically, it is zero in the Islamic world, the Roman Catholic Church, and many other religious institutions worldwide. It is a sign of hope that some Jewish and Christian communities, among others, have started admitting women to clerical roles. This is not simply a matter of "empowering women" just for the sake of empowering women; it is a matter of empowering women to feed the spiritual life of both men and women with the gifts of the "divine feminine", thereby enriching humanity beyond measure. The "theological" arguments against giving religious authority to women are – to put it mildly – literalist and fundamentalist rationalizations of man-made laws (see, for example, [05]).

All forms of misogyny are bad, but religious misogyny is the worst; for religious patriarchy makes invisible the maternal face of God and implies that women are not fully human and, therefore, cannot be allowed to dispense the divine mysteries to billions of people hungry for such spiritual nourishment. However, many signals indicate that we are on the path toward a new order of things [06].


The term "patriarchy" (already defined, [01]) refers to misogynic power structures that exclude women, self-perpetuate by centralized authority and wealth accumulation, and often entail delusions about masculine superiority. The term "solidarity" refers to fully inclusive power structures in which decisions are made at the lowest possible level and always taking into acount both the needs of each human person and the common good of humanity. The term "sustainability" extends the practice of solidarity to stewardship of natural resources for the common good of current and future generations. Definitions of "solidarity, and "sustainability" can be found in [07] and [08].

Patriarchy is a mindset with social and religious repercussions. Solidarity is also a mindset with social and religious repercussions. The prevailing mix of these mindsets is what induces human decisions and actions for or against sustainability. We are dealing here with a very complex web of inter-relationships in the physical, social, and psychological domanins, as well as the collective subconscious. Can we abstract from this complex web a simple model that is useful to analyze human decisions and public policies as to their effect on sustainability?

Consider the following model. It is a working hypothesis on the core feedback loop that generates the dynamics of patriarchy, solidarity, and sustainability. Human decisions and actions are driven either by a patriarchal mindset, or a solidarity mindset, or a combination of both. Current trends on global issues point toward patriarchy as the prevailing mindset. Patriarchy is an obstacle to solidarity. Solidarity is a pre-requisite to attain sustainability. Patriarchy is mitigated by sustainability and human development. The diagram shows the core feedback loop at the global level, i.e., variations for regions, nations, and localities are not shown.

Patriarchal Hegemony has a
Negative Influence on Solidarity

(i.e., as patriarchy increases, solidarity decreases)
Sustainable Human Development has a
Negative Influence on Patriarchy
(i.e., as human integral development increases, patriarchy decreases)


Solidarity has a Positive Influence on Sustainability
(i.e., as solidarity increases, sustainability increases)
Sustainability has a
Positive Influence on Human Development

(i.e., as sustainability increases, human development increases)

Figure 1 - The patriarchy-solidarity-sustainability-human development process

Patriarchy, solidarity, sustainability, and human development are not discrete phases, but rather are the core elements of a feedback loop process. The phases overlap and influence each other. Starting with the patriarchal mindset, and going around the loop clockwise, stronger patriarchal structures induce weaker solidarity, i.e., more reliance on power and domination, and less regard for human rights and the common good. Stronger solidarity induces transition to a sustainability ethos and sustainable human development. The term "sustainable human development" is understood as a shift from extravagant consumption of goods and services in the developed nations to (1) transfer of wealth to allow the developing nations to meet basic human needs, and (2) education, in both developed and developing nations, to motivate growth of the inner human person -- a transition from homo economicus to homo solidarius. This entails more reliance on peaceful negotiation, less extravagant consumption, less pollution, etc. Most important, it entails a more integral development (both outside and inside) of the human person.

Homo economicus makes decisions so as to maximize personal benefit, regardless of their impact on other persons or social institutions. Homo solidarius makes decisions pursuant to both the satisfaction of legitimate personal needs and the common good of humanity. This is not a naive, utopian ethos. Rather, it derives from the recognition that the quality of life of individuals is never independent of the common good of humanity. Globalization makes this crystal clear, and it is an irreversible process. The 9/11 terrorist attacks were, among other things, a clear signal that the transition from patriarchy to solidarity is indispensable for global peace and human development.

To the extent that this kind of sustainable human development gains momentum, it tends to mitigate patriarchy -- patriarchal decisions gradually become politically unacceptable once sustainable human development is underway. But the patriarchy to solidarity link is the strongest in the world today, and has been so for millenia; patriarchy reinforces patriarchy ... misogyny reinforces misogyny. We need to pray and work for the globalization of solidarity.

Even though patriarchy is the principal obstacle to solidarity, it is seldom recognized and understood as such. There are six billion men and women living on earth at the moment. Very few of them are aware of the patriarchal virus that abides in their minds and hearts. Sustainable development becomes viable if, and only if, human solidarity becomes the prevailing mindset in determining human decisions and actions. Such human solidarity must start with equity between men and women, since all forms of domination are rooted in the domination of women by men. This is a fact that has been recognized only recently in human history. But there is now increasing consensus, from individual scholars to universities, research institutions, and the United Nations, on human solidarity (and, in particular, cross-gender solidarity) being both necessary and sufficient to make progress toward sustainable development [09].

Patriarchy is pervasive to all dimensions of human life. This includes family life, social institutions and, especially, religious institutions. Religious patriarchy is the most insidious and harmful, because it hurts people at the deepest level. It is disgraceful that women in roles of religious significance and authority are still not allowed in most religious bodies worldwide. The same pattern applies to all major religious traditions: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism ... In the case of religious institutions, the patriarchal mindset is reinforced by ludicrous assertions that the subordination of women to men is a matter of "divine will". The psychological and spiritual damage done to both male and female believers is beyond measure. Nothing can do more harm to the people of God than a patriarchal "god" (see [10] and [11]) that systematically excludes women from roles of religious authority [12].

Figure 1 is a working hypothesis that attempts to explain the past, understand the present, and envision a better world in which misogyny and patriarchal hegemony have been domesticated, individualistic consumerism has been moderated by solidarity and sustainability decisions, and the desire for sustainable human development (as opposed to just consumption growth) has mitigated abuses inflicted on the human habitat. This analysis will be continued in future issues of the "Solidarity & Sustainability" newsletter.


The recently published book "In Search of Paul", by Crossan and Reed, 2004 [13], demolishes the old but persisting idea that St. Paul was in favor of restricting the role of women in either religious or social institutions. Precisely the opposite is the case. The authors show that, in the authentically pauline letters, Paul insists on the total equality of men and women in both church and society. It is in the pseudo-pauline letters that the perfect gender equality of Galatians 3:28 is discarded. Some highlights:

Perhaps the most important work on integrating all the issues related to global solidarity and sustainability is the United Nations "Millennium Project" including the definition of eight "Millennium Development Goals" (MDGs). Progress is to be measured using 18 targets and 48 indicators [14]. A comprehensive plan has been published to reach certain target thresholds by 2015. This report [15] is expected to become a roadmap for sustainable global development during the next decade. The report provides 10 key recommendations based on a massive program of "investment for development.".

The implicit assumption of these recommendations is that money is both necessary and sufficient to overcome poverty. It is certainly necessary, but not sufficient. Click here for a summary of "The Faces of Poverty," and notice the data under "The devastating effect of poverty on women". The data shows that poverty exacerbates gender inequality. But gender inequality is orthogonal to social or economic status. It is also orthogonal to geography, ethnicity, or any other factor. The root cause for gender inequality is therefore something that runs deeper and is a common denominator to all human societies, secular or religious. By way of elimination, we conclude that there is only one such root cause: patriarchy-misogyny.


The synthesis that emerges includes the following factors:

In brief, the patriarchal mindset, rooted in misogyny, reduces God to a male idol and is an obstacle to human solidarity and sustainable development. Therefore, misogynic practices are immoral and should be terminated (sooner rather than later) by all human institutions and, in particular, religious institutions. This is not to minimize the importance of removing misogyny from social institutions. But the enormous influence that religious institutions have on people makes it imperative that they take the lead for the glory of God and the good of humanity -- body and soul.

An urgent appeal is hereby made to religious authorities. Be aware, that preserving religious patriarchies (including wealth accumulation and concentration of power) is an obstacle to solidarity and human development, and therefore cannot possibly be the will of God. Do not use your power to preserve patriarchal religious structures. Rather, use your power to reform your institutions away from patriarchy. Do not be afraid to admit that patriarchy is an idol, and do not be afraid to act accordingly. Actions speak louder than words. The voice of God, which resounds in the events of history, is asking you to exorcise patriarchy from all religious practices, thereby opening wide the door for authentic growth in solidarity, sustainability, and spirituality.


Below is a selected list of references. This is not intended as a comprehensive bibliography. In fact, care has been taken to include references that reflect opposite viewpoints in some controversial issues. Some references are supplemented by relevant quotations as well as brief comments relevant to solidarity, sustainability, and patriarchy issues.

[01] Patriarchy, Wikipedia, 2005.

[02] Misogyny, Wikipedia, 2005.

[03] See, for example, McElvaine, Robert S., Eve's Seed: Biology, the Sexes, and the Course of History, McGraw-Hill, 2001.

"The combination of the belief that God (or the god who is the ultimate creator) is nale with the notion that humans are created in God's image yielded the inescapable conclusion that men are closer than women to godly perfection. Thus the line from the misconceptions about conception emanating from the seed metaphor to the belief, given its classic expressions by Aristotle, Aquinas, and Freud, that women are deformed or "incomplete" men is clear and direct. There is no telling how much evil throughout history might have been averted or eased had the growth of this vine of thinking somehow been nipped in the bud." (pp.13-15)

"In a 1994 Apostolic Letter entitled "On Reserving Priestly Ordination to Men Alone," Pope John Paul II reaffirmed the Catholic Church's position that the ordination of women is not even a matter open for discussion. The reason? The hoary argument that Jesus' apostles were all men." (p. 373)

[04] Dervarics, Charles, Tiny Successes in Bid to Close Male-Female Gap in Schooling Worldwide, Population Reference Bureau (PRB), March 2004

"Right now, we have to ask ourselves whether the world is walking away from girls, walking away from the goals it has set for itself," said Carol Bellamy, UNICEF executive director. In its latest Education for All Global Monitoring Report, the UN found that girls continue to face "sharp discrimination" in schooling, largely because of traditional policies that discourage their education."

[05] See, for example, article 1024 of the Code of Canon Law, Roman Catholic Church, 1983. It is very succinct:

Latin: "Sacram ordenationem valide recipit solus vir baptizatus."
English: "Only a baptized male validly receives sacred ordination."
Spanish: "Sólo el varón bautizado recibe válidamente la sagrada ordenación."
French: "Seulement un mâle baptisé reçoit bien la classification sacrée."
Italian: "Soltanto un maschio baptized riceve bene il ordination sacred."
Portuguese: "Somente um macho baptizado recebe vàlida o sagrada ordenación."
German: "Nur ein getaufter Mann empfängt gültig heilige Klassifikation."
Dutch: "Slechts ontvangt een gedoopt mannetje geldig heilige ordening."
Note that canon 1024 specifically excludes women from any role of religious authority in the Roman Catholic Church. The same is still true for the Orthodox Christian Churches, Islam, and many other religious institutions.

[06] Gradual recognition of the patriarchal-misogynic syndrome has been underway for a long time, albeit not always in a fully conscious way:

Saint Paul, Letter to the Galatians, 3:28 (late first century CE)
The Nag Hammadi Library, Gnostic Gospels (late third century CE)
Hypatia of Alexandria (d. 415 C.E.) -- See
Saint Hildegard of Bingen, Know the Way (1151) and The Book of the Divine Works (1173)
Christine de Pizan, Book of the City of Ladies (1405)
Heinricus Cornelius Agrippa, Declamation on the Nobility and Preeminence of the Female Sex (1529)
Jane Anger, Her Protection for Women (1589)
Moderata Fonte, The Worth of Women (1600)
Aemilia Lanyer, Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum (1611)
Rachel Speght, Mouzel for Melastomus (1617)
Margaret Askew Fell Fox, Women's Speaking Justified (1666)
Sarah Fyge Field Egerton, The Female Advocate (1686)
Mary Astell, Some Reflections on Marriage (1700)
Judith Sargent Murray, On the Equality of Woman (1790)
Sarah Moore Grimke, Letters on the Equality of the Sexes (1838)
Matilda Joslyn Gage, Woman, Church, and State (1893)
Merlin Stone, When God Was a Woman (1976)
Rosemary Radford Ruether, Sexism and God Talk (1983)
Barbara MacHaffie, Her Story: Women in the Christian Tradition (1986)
Nancy Tuana, The Less Noble Sex (1993)
Lynn Gottlieb, She Who Dwells Within: A Feminist Vision of a Renewed Judaism (1995)

However, many signals indicate that the time has come for a new order of things:

  • The "women's movement" is now entering its third century. The feminist trend, like anything human, has shown both positives and negatives; but, to anyone who is not blinded by misogyny, the net balance is clearly positive for human development.
    • The "first wave" of feminism started in the 1850s and ended in the early 1900s. The main concerns were education, employment, marriage laws, the lack of professional opportunities for intelligent women, and the right to vote.
    • The "second wave" of feminism started gaining momentum in the late 1950s or early 1960s. The key issues are human rights, world peace, misogyny, and gender discrimination of all kinds. The second wave is still unfolding, but it may not keep going much longer.
    • The "third wave" of feminism is just getting underway. There seems to be a shift from open confrontation to quietly empowering young women to assume leadership roles in all kinds of cultures and institutions. Overcoming misogyny is becoming an irreversible process.

Following is a sample of current concerns about the proper roles of women in both society and religion:

  • Patriarchy in the Church, by Linda Chhakchhuak, India Together, June 2002. To read the article, click here
  • The Eve of destruction - All religions have had a problem with women and sex - and Christianity more than most, by Karen Armstrong, The Guardian, January 15, 2004. To read the article, click here.
  • Conference explores roles, frustrations of women in Catholic church, by Michael Paulson, Boston Globe, April 18, 2004. To read the article, click here
  • In France, the law establishes that, starting January 1, 2005, newborn children can receive either the paternal or the maternal surname (or both, in any order). This is a significant development in a society where the paternal (patriarchal) lineage was normative. For more information, click here.

The elimination of all forms of gender discrimination is one of the United Nations critical concerns:

  • To see the criticality of reversing the "feminization of poverty," click here.
  • To see this concern reflected in the "UN Millennium Declaration", click here.
  • To see this concern reflected in the "UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)," click here.
  • To browse the Directory of UN Resources on Gender and Women's Issues, click here.
  • To read the UN resolution on the critical issue of girls' access to education, click here.
  • To read about the status of MDG 3, "Promote gender equality and empower women", click click here.

[07] Solidarity, Wikipedia, 2005.

[08] Sustainability, Wikipedia, 2005.

[09] The following provide a good sampling of both scholarly and experiential research:

Amadiume, Ifi, Women and Development in Africa, Sokka Gakkai International (SGI), January 2005
Brundtland, Gro Harlem, Our Common Future: The Brundtland Report, Our Common Future: UN World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987
Buchdahl, Joseph & Susan Hare, Encyclopedia of Sustainable Development, Manchester Metropolitan University, 2000
Callaghan, Michael, Sustainability: Positioning the Concept as a Global Goal, Global Vision Corporation, 1997
Church, Wendy, Facing the Future: Population, Poverty, Consumption, and the Environment, Facing the Future: People and the Planet, 2001
Christensen, Martin K.I., Worldwide Guide to Women in Leadership, website based on independent research started in 1987, published online since 1999, and still in progress as of 2005.
Hirpa, Martha, Gender Equity: The Heart of Justice and Sustainability, Heifer International, WorldArk, March 2005
Martine, George & Marcela Villarreal, Gender and Sustainability International Colloquium on Gender, Population and Development in Africa, FAO, United Nations, Abidjan, July 2001
Pax Christi USA, Toward A Globalization of Solidarity, A Pax Christi USA Interim Position Paper On Globalization To Promote Dialogue, November 2001
Rees, W. and M. Wackernagel, Sustainability: The Facts, New Internationalist, Number 329, November 2000
Rubenstein, Herb, Women and Leadership: Review of Recent Studies, Strategic Leadership Network, January 2003
Schemmel, B., Religious Leaders, Rulers Website, independent research, 2005.
Tibbs, Hardin, Sustainability, Deeper News, Volume 10, Number 1, January 1999
Tunis Declaration, Solidarity for Sustainable Development, 2002
United Nations, Directory of UN Resources on Gender and Women's Issues
United Nations, Statistics and Indicators on Women and Men
Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, Web of Creation: Transforming Faith-Based Communities for a Sustainable World
Williams, Archbishop Rowan, "Changing The Myths We Live By", Environment Lecture, Lambeth Palace, July 2004

[10] It is to be noted that both men and women are harmed at all levels -- physical, psychological, spiritual. Some pertinent references:

Chittister, Joan D. Heart of Flesh: A Feminist Spirituality for Women and Men, Eerdmans, 1998
"The models of power that arise out of the narrow perspective of a patriarchal worldview reek with danger. In systems in which power is more a commodity than an instrument for good, getting power and keeping it become the overriding functions of every decision. The need to keep control leads to secrecy, to manipulation, to tokenism, to ruthless disregard for others, to the carving out of unreal worlds. Patriarchal power keeps information to itself so that others have no material out of which to fashion alternative decisions. Skewing of information, disinformation, manipulation of data, spin-doctoring become the bedrock of communication in a system that assumes itself to be the first and last word on every decision." (page 67)
Naranjo, Claudio, The End of Patriarchy and the Dawning of a Tri-une Society, Amber Lotus, 1994
"Although I am concerned with all forms of pollution in phallotechnic society, this book is primarily concerned with the mind/spirit/body pollution inflicted through patriarchal myth and language on all levels." (page 12)

"Today we know that male and female nervous systems can be as different as male and female bodies, that already at birth women are (statistically speaking) more relational and less aggressive, and in the adult male there is more specialization of the cerebral hemispheres, while in the woman a more developed corpus callosum allows for greater interhemispheric coordination. Precisely because there is such a relationship it is important that women are not excluded from the decision-making process in affairs that concern us all." (page 31)

Mies, Maria, Patriarchy and Accumulation on a World Scale, Zed Books, 1986, 1998
"In this dynamic process of polarization between countries which are 'developing' themselves and countries which they in this process 'underdevelop', the rich and powerful Western industrial countries are getting more and more 'overdeveloped'. This means their development does not stop at a certain point where people would say: 'This is enough. We have enough development for our human happiness.' The very motor driving on this polarization of the world economy, namely, the capital accumulation process, is based on a world view which never says 'This is enough'. It is by its very nature based on limitless growth, on limitless expansion of productive forces, of commodities and capital. The result of this never-ending growth model are the phenomena of 'overdevelopment', that is, of a growth that has assumed the character of a cancer, which is progressively destructive, not only for those who are exploited in this process but also for those who are apparently the beneficiaries of this exploitation. 'Overdevelopment and underdevelopment' are, therefore, the two extreme poles of an inherently exploitative world order, divided up and and yet linked by the global accumulation process or the world market." (page 39)
Pert, Alan, Essays on Patriarchy and Consumerism, University of Sydney, Australia, 1999
"The essence of patriarchy is a pathological desire by certain men to control and dominate all life and matter.This is the patriarchal mindset. Its origins lie in the development of agriculture and later incursions by aggressive nomadic tribes c.3,000 BC ....Patriarchy is not a necessary stage in human evolution, as some apologists would have it. It is an aberration or virus. Not only has patriarchy made life miserable for many over the centuries, it is now threatening the very existence of life on this planet." Click here for complete essay

"Men have to see that their own best interests are served when they honour the feminine.The true masculine honours the true feminine, and vice versa.There is a need to re-vision the relations between the men and women, and see through the patriarchal propaganda that says things must be as they are. Women and men of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but the patriarchal blues." Click here for complete essay

Patel, Raj, Feminist perspectives on Ecological Sustainability and Equity, presented at the workshop of the Association of Women in Development Forum on Reinventing Globalization, October 3-6, 2002, Guadalajara, Mexico.
"Globalization has increased sexism and entrenched patriarchy the world over, but especially in Southern Africa. Rural women have borne the brunt of this assault. Structural adjustment policies have ratcheted back the progress made in sending both sexes to school. The HIV/AIDS epidemic, and the sexism around contraception issues, makes women face both increased risks of contracting HIV/AIDS and the burden of caring for people with HIV/AIDS and AIDS orphans. This impacts ecological sustainability directly. Poor farmers depend on their ability to work in the fields: increased burdens of care, and reduced levels of health and education, which fall disproportionately on women, militate against a sustainable future. Globalization’s erosion of social services, together with the refusal by international agencies to deal with land issues for women, mean that the fragile gains made by feminists in Southern Africa are under attack. There are, however, examples of sustainable, equitable and pro-feminist farming. Our task is to globalize them.
Sanford, John A., The Invisible Partners: How the Male and Female in each of Us Affects our Relationships, Paulist Press, 1980
"The most important contribution [Carl] Jung makes in his concepts of the anima and animus is to give us an idea of the polarity that exists within each of us. We are not homogeneous units of psychic life, but contain an inevitable opposition withinh us, call them what we like -- masculine and feminine, anima and animus, Yin and Yang -- and these are ternally in tension and are eternally seeking to unite. The human soul if a great arena in which the Active and the Receptive, the Light and the Dark, the Yang and the Yin, seek to come together and forge within us an indescribable unity of personality. To achieve this union of the opposites within ourselves may very well be the task of life, requiring the utmosy perseverance and assiduous awareness. Usually men need women for this to come about, and women need men. And yet, ultimately the union of the opposites does not occur between a man who plays out the masculine and a women who plays out the feminine, but within the being of each man and each womanin whom the opposites are finally conjoined."

[11] A brief bibliography at the intersection of gender equality, solidarity, sustainability, and spirituality:

Armstrong, Karen, A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, Ballantibe Books, NY, 1993
Beneria, Lourdes, Gender, Development, and Globalization: Economics as if People Mattered, New York, Routledge, 2003
Brock, Ann Graham, Mary Magdalene, the First Apostle: The Struggle for Authority, Harvard University Press, 2002
Butler, Thomas W., Let Her Keep It, Quantum Leap Publisher, 1998
Cobb, John B. Jr., Has Europe Become Theologically Barren?, Religion Online, Catholic Faculty at Graz, Austria, March 14, 2002
Coward, Harold, and Daniel C. Maguire, Visions of a New Earth: Religious Perspectives on Population, Consumption, and Ecology, State University of New York Press, 2000
Geitz, Elizabeth R., Gender and the Nicene Creed, Moorehouse Publishing, 1995
Hemmati, Minu and Rosalie Gardiner, Gender and Sustainable Development, Heinrich Böll Foundation, WSSD Paper 10, 2002
Knijin, Trudie and Aafke Komter, Solidarity between the sexes and the generations: transformations in Europe, 2004
Le Doeuff, Michèle , The Sex of Knowing, Routledge, New York, 2003
Lerber, Gerda, The Creation of Patriarchy, Oxford University Press, 1986
Lorber, Gerda, Gender Inequality: Feminist Theories and Politics, Roxbury, 2005
McNamara, Jo Ann, Sisters in Arms: Catholic Nuns through Two Millenia, Harvard University Press, 1996
Miller, Vincent J., Consuming Religion: Christian Faith and Practice in a Consumer Culture, Continuum, New York, 2004
Moghadam, Valentine M. Ed., Patriarchy and economic development: women's positions at the end of the twentieth century, 1996
Nageer, Farah et al, Gender, Sustainable Development, and Trade, IGTN, United Nations, 2003
Osborne, Kenan B., Priesthood: A History of the Ordained Ministry in the Roman Catholic Church, Paulist Press, 1988
Eisler, Riane, The Chalice and the Blade, Harper, San Francisco, 1987
Eisler, Riane, Sacred Pleasure: Sex, Myth, and the Politics of the Body--New Paths to Power and Love, Harper, San Francisco, 1996

Torjesen, Karen, When Women Were Priests, Harper, San Franscisco, 1993
Trible, Phyllis, God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality, Fortress Press, 1978
Winter, Miriam T., Out of the Depths, Crossroad Publishing Company, NY, 2001

[12] Specifically regarding the exclusion of women from roles of religious authority, see the following:

[13] Crossan, John D. and Jonathan L. Reed, In Search of Paul: How Jesus' Apostle Opposed Rome's Empire with God's Kingdom -- A New Vision of Paul's Words and World, Harper, San Francisco, 2004.

[14] United Nations, Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), United Nations Millennium Declaration, resolution adopted by the General Assembly, 8 September 2000 (to read the declaration, click here). The are 8 MDGs, supported by 18 measurable targets and 47 progress indicators. The MDGs are defined as follows:

Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education
Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women
Goal 4: Reduce child mortality
Goal 5: Improve maternal health
Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability
Goal 8: Develop a global partnership for development

[15] United Nations, Investing in Development: A Practical Plan to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals, delivered to Secretary-General Kofi Annan by the Millennium Project under the direction of Jeffrey Sachs, Columbia University, January 2005. The report is available online and can be downloaded for free. The report provides 10 key recommendations. This report has been generally well received, though it assumes a degree of human solidarity that may not materialize by 2015.

"A custom without truth is ancient error."
St. Cyprian (3rd Century CE)

Luis T. Gutierrez


Copyright © 2005 by Luis T. Gutierrez

From Patriarchy to Solidarity and Sustainability
in both Religion
and Society

The Judeo-Christian tradition upholds the equality of men and women but, in practice, women are excluded from roles of religious authority. Some Christian churches have recently started to change this practice. We shall consider other major religious traditions in future issues.

Let us take a look at Rublev's Trinity Icon, circa 1422 (Eastern Orthodox Tradition).

Is this an image of a patriarchal God?


Feedback from readers, subject to editing, will be included here, as well as responses from the editor if appropriate.

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Readers are cordially invited to communicate ideas, concerns, or any other information that would allow the editor to improve this newsletter. Inflammatory feedback will be discarded.

Please send your inputs by email to: Editor


The United Nations

The United Nations have an extensive network of websites, some of them including global databases. Some of the most useful are listed below. For an index of all the UN websites, go to the UN Website Locator.

UN Main Portal
UN Development Program
UN Environmental Program
UN Millennium Project
UN Statistical Division
UN University
UN WomenWatch


African Union
European Union
International Data Base (IDB)
International Monetary Fund
International Standards (ISO)
SE Asian Nations Assoc
Union of International Assoc
World Bank
World Energy Council
World Environment Center
World Health Organization
World Labor Organization
World Trade Organization

United States

U.S. Government Main Portal
Library of Congress
National Academies
Endowment for the Humanities
Federal Reserve
Environmental Protection
Energy Information
Bureau of Economic Statistics
Census Bureau
Geological Survey
Women's Bureau


International Solidarity
Europe Solidarity Forum
Amnesty International
Christian Solidarity
Religious Freedom Center
Women/Gender Resources
South Asian Network
OECD Gender Equality Links


Ecocosm Dynamics
Definitions of Sustainability
Intl Inst for Sustainable Dev
Sustainability Internetwork
Sustainability Now
Ecology and Society
Ecological Economics


Patriarchy Website
Gender and Society
Patriarchal Family in History
Domestic Violence
Gender Resources

Gender in Religion

Anglican Communion
Eastern Orthodox
Lutheran Federation
Roman Catholic
Salvation Army
World Council of Churches

Web Research Tools

Search Engines Directory
Deep Web Research
Research Discovery Network
Governments Worldwide
Universities Worldwide
Social Sciences
Physical Sciences
Social Sciences
Life Sciences
Gender Issues
Global Issues

New Resources

Recently published:

The Millennium Project Report 2005
By a team of 300 distinguished researchers under the direction of Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Columbia University, January 2005.

The Oslo Declaration
on Sustainable

By 50 distinguished scholars - Oslo, Norway, February 2005.

The 2005 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment
By a team of 1300 researchers, United Nations, March 2005.

Gender Equity: The Heart of Justice and Sustainability
By Martha Hirpa, Heifer International, 2005.

A Planet on the Brink
By Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, Independent News & Media (UK) Ltd., April 2005.

God, Man, and the Environment
By Samuel Gregg, Acton Commentary, Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty, April 20, 2005

Gender Inequality: Feminist Theories and Politics,
By Judith Lorber, Third Edition, Roxbury, 2005.

The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time,
By Jeffrey Sachs, Penguin, 2005.

Recent Events

Pope Benedict XVI

The election of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI raises grave concerns about several issues, in particular gender equality. For comparative analyses of this event, and possible repercussions on human solidarity and sustainable develoment, click here and here.

The patriarchal, male-only succession pageantry at the Vatican, while undoubtely a cause of joy and admiration for many, was not very reassuring to this editor. Here is a religious institution with one billion members, and a huge influence on social issues worldwide, where women are totally excluded from any role of religious authority. Watching the events on TV reminded me of the well known story about the first communion girl answering the basic question, "how many sacraments do we have in the church?" by simply stating the truth: "seven for boys and six for girls."

Is the perpetuation of this patriarchal mindset a positive factor in human and social development? Is it a positive factor for authentic religious and spiritual development? It is by now well documented [e.g., see 03, 12, 13], that there is no theological basis whatsoever for refusing to ordain women. This may be the reason that discussion of this issue is "forbidden" within the Roman Catholic Church.

Earth Day 2005

Earth Day 2005 was celebrated on Friday, April 22nd, for the 35th consecutive year. The theme this year was "Protect Our Children and Our Future." For more details on the events that took place around the world, see the Earth Day Network 2005 Materials.

The bad news is that the number of people who were even aware that this celebration was taking place, as well as the number of people worldwide who are aware of the consequences of persistent abuse of the planet, remains abismally small. There is overwhelming evidence that human health is negatively affected by air and water pollution, and by the evisceration of the ozone layer caused by fossil fuel emissions. In particular, the number of cases of melanoma in children is increasing at an alarming rate, according to a recent AP report.

The good news is that, slowly but surely, the number of people becoming aware of the health risks caused by our addiction to consume is also increasing. The same is true with regard to corporations and other institutions. The number of companies getting certified under environmental management standards (such as ISO-14001) is growing exponentially. Likewise, the number of companies issuing sustainability annual reports is increasing significantly. A new ISO standard on corporate social responsibility is in preparation. Executives are beginning to understand that being socially and environmentally responsible makes good business sense.

But in order to "protect our children and our future," the future is now. Wearing hats and sunglasses is helpful. But the structural obstacles -- such as the patriarchal minset of domination and wealth accumulation -- keep delaying significant reductions in population and consumption growth, and these are the only sustainable solutions in the long term. How to do this in a politically viable and morally legitimate way is not something that can be charted in advance. But if the main obstacle -- patriarchy -- is removed, then we can "muddle through" the transition, and there is hope for "our children and our future."


Women's Studies
I'm looking for information about how to increase enrollment in women's studies.

What have other programs done to appeal to their university students and battle the misconceptions?

Are there any communication campaigns about this topic?

If you have answers to these questions, please contact Anna Gonzalez, Women's Studies Public Relations Assistant for Southern Methodist University.

Thank you,
Anna Gonzalez

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