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Women Speak Out! A Report of the Pacific Women's Conference. October 27 – November 2



When we are talking about religion, we are, without knowing it, talking about the introduced religion that has pervaded all the islands. Very few of us have mentioned the traditional religion. So it goes to show that we have been thoroughly socialised in the Western religion and we therefore have come to accept some of the Western values. We can no longer differentiate this from our traditional religion. We have incorporated some of these Western religious values and even have called this our own.

page 26
Black and white photograph of a church's interior.

“Women do not preach from the pulpit—only men do that. I often wonder why this is so, especially since women clean and sweep the pulpit. If only men are allowed to preach from the pulpit then why can't they sweep and clean it?” Ataiti Ama (Cook Islands)

page 27

The second thing that has come out is the great influence of religion in shaping lives, our women's roles, so that in effect religion, the Christian religion especially, has reinforced the social patterns, has reinforced the traditional patterns, that we have been used to. And I think that it has become evident that some of these norms, some of these rules that have been introduced by this Western religion have been constructive-we can certainly do with a bit of love, we can certainly do with a bit of unity that Christianity preaches. But some of these norms as they have been pointed out, have tended to restrict us women from developing our full potential.