Christian Women’s Perceptions of Gender Roles and Behaviours, and Implications for Transforming Accepted Gender Norms in Jamaica by Karen Casilda Levy

This work identifies the extent to which Christian women subscribe to traditional gender roles and expectations in the private and public domain, and discusses, in light of the findings, the role of women’s beliefs and behaviours in transforming gender norms in the society. Suitable quantitative and qualitative methods were used to complete this project. Data for qualitative analysis was collected from 386 Christian women in selected parishes of Jamaica, while in-depth interviewing, conducted with 4 women, formed the basis of the qualitative analysis. Religious women were found to be more non-traditional than traditional in their beliefs concerning gender roles. This study was partially based on the anticipation that denominational affiliation would have been an influential factor in respondents’ gender perspectives. However, survey results showed no association between denominational affiliation and gender perspectives. However, it was found that Christian beliefs, irrespective of denominational affiliation, were influential in respondents’ gender ideology. Education also proved to be significant to women’s view points. Women’s perspectives are fundamental in reshaping entrenched customs that are onerous and limiting to women themselves. Their generally contemporary beliefs are reflected, to some extent, in our culture and some traditional customs have been altered. For example, women are being educated in all the fields of study including those traditionally dominated by men. However, women’s contemporary perspectives have not yet manifested in many other aspects of our culture. Some of these critical issues, like who should shoulder the burden of domestic activities, and which sex is expected to be the breadwinner are discussed in this work. Overall, some gender related traditional customs which limit women’s achievement, and which are still embraced in our cultural values, is an indication for the continued need for education on gender equality, and women empowerment in all spheres of society.

Keywords: Karen Casilda Levy; Christian women – Jamaica; Sex roles; Women in public life; Gender identity; Religious aspects; Denominational affiliation.

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