In a historic attempt at making Asian Catholic women seen and heard, women theologians from all over Asia gathered at the WE-Train International House, Bangkok, Thailand, for a five-day conference (24th-29th November 2002) entitled “Ecclesia of Women in Asia: Gathering the Voices of the Silenced”.
The dream to hold the EWA conference was born twelve months earlier in India, at an Asian theological conference to reflect on the Asian post Synodal document “Ecclesia in Asia.” At this conference, the 4 women present began to ask some soul-searching questions: Are there women theologians in Asia? Why are they not at our Catholic universities? If they do enter they are often considered as western because they deal with feminist issues. They are also expected to talk only about women, and when they talk about women they are not considered real theologians. Are they influential in curricula development? Many Asian women theologians do contextual theology: What would they say about the Asian reality?
Dr. Evelyn Monteiro, S.C. from India gave the EWA Keynote Address, underlining that the aims of the conference were:
i) to bring together Catholic women doing theology in Asia in academia as well as in grassroots situations;
ii) to provide space for Catholic women theologians to have their voices heard and their thoughts and reflections articulated;
iii) to invite Catholic women theologians – in their power and potential – to evolve a theology from the perspective of Catholic Asian women;
iv) to encourage more Asian Catholic women to engage in theological research, reflection and writing;
v) create networks with different Asian feminist grassroots/theological movements and global feminist grassroots/theological movements in society, Church and academy, which are Catholic, ecumenical and inter-faith
Networking and mutual support are high on the list of EWA’s priorities, which also includes: increasing the visibility of EWA, making contact with major theological associations in the area, developing the women’s perspective of Asian contextual theology, and perhaps even offering short theological courses for women and men in areas cut off from such possibilities.