The context of ministry of this dissertation is the women in the United Methodist Church in Nigeria (UMCN), where the population of women in the echelon of leadership is very low when compared with their male counterparts. The purpose of this dissertation, therefore, is to investigate the problems and the challenges that are confronting the women in their leadership participation in order to discover what the systemic cause of gender discrimination is: 1) to seek ways to address the problem, as well as to offer correction to the African traditional worldview that devalues and oppresses women; and 2) to establish effective strategies to equip the women in leadership development.
The research method employed for this dissertation is the mixed-methods approach of qualitative and quantitative research methods, whereby questionnaires were randomly distributed to the respondents, and interviews were conducted to elicit responses from the research population. Also, a leadership summit was organized for the UMCN women of Abuja district in Nigeria. The data for the questionnaire was analyzed based on percentages. The data for the interviews was tabulated, and the outcome of the Women Leadership Summit was reported in sentence format. From the research findings and results some of the challenges that the UMCN women in leadership are confronted with are summarized in the following ways:
The African traditional worldview holds that women are weak and not worthy to teach.
1. There is gender disparity as Africans. Men feel they are the best. They see women as inferior to themselves. Otherwise known as patriarchy.
2. Men are egocentric. Therefore, they resist women as leaders in the Church.
3. The politics in the Church are a challenge.
4. Household chores hinder women from full participation in the Church.
The outcome of the Women Leadership Summit indicates that the strategies employed were effective. One hundred percent of the participants unanimously agreed that the women leadership training program should be made an annual event in the UMCN, both at the district and the national levels. This outcome will sensitize more women to assume leadership responsibilities in the system. Of those in full agreement to item 17 of the questionnaire, 63.41% are males and 64.20% are females. Item 17 states that the traditional African worldview about women, not leading men can be corrected. Unfortunately, the expected outcome was not realized in the course of writing this dissertation because of the unexpected brevity of the women leadership summit.
In this dissertation some of the suggested solutions to addressing the problems include the following:
1. Women in the UMCN should be included in the bishop’s cabinet.
2. Women who have the calling should not shy away from the work of God.
3. Women should be given key roles to play in the Church.
4. The women should be provided with necessary and relevant orientation and leadership seminars.
5. The men should recognize the fact that the great commission by the Lord Jesus Christ is for both men and women.
6. Women should be courageous and determined to assume leadership positions.
In conclusion, this dissertation is about a paradigm shift in the way women and men appreciate the ministry of women in the UMCN. To eradicate the systemic cause of gender inequality, it is recommended that leadership development training programs for women should be an annual event in the UMCN.