Combining Catholic social teaching, feminist and African liberation theology, and the social sciences, Joseph Loïc Mben, SJ, develops a contextual gendered African Christian social ethic that addresses the oppression and marginalization of working women in Sub-Saharan Africa. He focuses primarily on African women from working and poor classes living in either urban or rural settings, particularly in Cameroon, and thus shows the necessity of inflecting Catholic social teaching along the differential of gender.
Joseph Loïc Mben, S.J., is a Jesuit priest from Cameroon. He teaches bioethics and social ethics at the Jesuit Institute of Theology in Abidjan (Cote d’Ivoire).
Part 1: Catholic Social Teaching (CST) and the Empowerment of the (Female) Worker
1.Overview of Catholic Social Teaching
2.Populorum Progressio, Laborem Exercens, and the Evolution of Catholic Social Teaching
3.African Bishops on Workers’ Empowerment
4.Evaluation of Catholic Social Teaching on Workers’ Empowerment
Conclusion to Part 1
Part 2: The Reality of Women’s Work in Cameroon
5.Feminist Criticism of Neoclassical Economics
6.General Characteristics of Women’s Work
7.The Reality of Women’s Work in Cameroon
Conclusion to Part 2
Part 3: Elements of a Gendered African Social Ethics on Labor
8.African Liberation Theology and Women’s Work
9.Key Elements of a Gendered African Social Ethics
Conclusion to Part 3
Part 4: Empowering Working Women: Concepts and Practices
11.Looking at Concrete Practices
Conclusion to Part 4
Catholic teaching on labor justice is one of the best-known aspects of Catholic social thought. What is less common, however, is an application of that general teaching to specific situations. In this book, Joseph Loïc Mben, S.J. provides an excellent illustration of how to employ Catholic social teaching in a concrete setting; he develops an ethical methodology that is faithful to the Catholic social tradition and richly informed by the African context.
Joseph Loïc Mben’s tour de force delivers an incisive reassessment of Catholic social teaching, African theology, and feminist hermeneutics in regard to women’s work. Not only does this evidenced-based pioneering analysis uncover discomforting gendered injustices spawned by the deficiencies and dysfunctionalities of regnant socioeconomic models, but it also presents an alternative vision that celebrates the resilience of women, recognizes their dignity, and honors their contribution to human flourishing in church and society. A thought-provoking narrative that comprehensively limns the prospects and promises for women’s empowerment and radical social transformation.
This unique book, focused on Cameroon, breaks the boundaries of past Christian diagnoses of gender injustice. Joseph Mben does not stop at bible, theology, or moral ideals. He makes social science analysis key to diagnosing causes and remedies, analyzing in detail the realities of patriarchy, custom and law that disadvantage women in Africa. He outlines concretely how churches can collaborate with civil society organizations, change attitudes, empower women, and instigate change. This not only offers a powerrful vision of African women’s strength and future, but also an essential methodology for all Christian ethicists.