Women of Faith in Birmingham: The Story of Their Engagement in Inter Faith Dialogue

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Dialogue Society Birmingham Branch

It is now over 15 years since Ursula King identified feminism as ‘the missing dimension in the dialogue of religions’ (in D’Arcy May 1998). She continues to speak with the authority of her long experience of engagement in dialogue as well as her research and teaching in the field of religious studies, and her awareness of gender issues. The evidence of photographs and press releases from international inter faith conferences shows that women have largely been excluded from inter religious dialogue, where so often the official representatives and a majority of the speakers have been male. Even at the Parliament of the World’s Religions held in Barcelona in 2004, participants were disappointed by the lack of women speakers, women’s issues and feminist analysis. This disappointment is more than just a matter of human rights because feminism and inter-religious dialogue have mutually relevant insights to offer to each other.

Using her personal involvement, as a woman, in working for inter faith understanding in the multi faith city of Birmingham, Ruth has been exploring King’s thesis on the ground. Her aims included:

To find out whether there is anything distinctive that the experience of women has brought to inter faith encounter in Birmingham and, if so, to discover some of its characteristics.

If feminism is indeed ‘a missing dimension’, to explore what difference its recognition might make to the dialogue of religions.

Biography of Ruth Tetlow

Mrs. Ruth Tetlow has taught Geography and English (ESOL) in UK, Kenya and Bulgaria. She was a Tutor at the United College of the Ascension, Selly Oak from 1999 – 2006.

Mrs. Ruth Tetlow has been a Trustee of the Birmingham Council of Faiths since the 1980’s.

Since 2006 Ruth has worked as an Inter Faith trainer, with the Faith Encounter Programme and has set up Faith Guiding courses in Birmingham.

She is married with three adult children and one grandson.

Mrs. Ruth Tetlow has the following qualifications: MA (Geography), PGCE and M Phil in Inter Religious Relations.