About the Author(s)

Dody S. Truna Email symbol
Department of Religious Studies, UIN Sunan Gunung Djati, Bandung, Indonesia

R.F. Bhanu Viktorahadi symbol
Faculty of Philosophy, Parahyangan Catholic University, Bandung, Indonesia

Mochamad Z. Haq symbol
Open Integrity Program, Indonesia’s Society of the Sacred Heart (RSCJ), Bandung, Indonesia


Truna, D.S., Viktorahadi, R.F.B. & Haq, M.Z., 2022, ‘Gender equality in Catholic religious and character education: A multiculturalism perspective’, HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies 78(4), a7317. https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v78i4.7317

Original Research

Gender equality in Catholic religious and character education: A multiculturalism perspective

Dody S. Truna, R.F. Bhanu Viktorahadi, Mochamad Z. Haq

Received: 05 Jan. 2022; Accepted: 24 May 2022; Published: 27 July 2022

Copyright: © 2022. The Author(s). Licensee: AOSIS.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Gender equality continues to be important because it strengthens society. One of the efforts to promote gender equality in Indonesia is gender equality education. For Catholics in Indonesia, the existence of the 2013 Curriculum Ethics and Catholic Education (PAK Kurtilas) had a strategic role in mainstreaming gender equality education. This research used library sources to research these textbooks with adequate ethical and multicultural analysis. Here, information was conveyed through a qualitative approach through annotations and descriptive data on the texts studied. According to this study, the curriculum offers instructional materials on the value of gender equality in intercultural education, which used the critical discourse analysis (CDA) technique. The textbook analysis also recommended using gender-responsive learning approaches and methods so that students could comprehensively understand the material on gender equality.

Contribution: This article uses a textual analysis with a religious socio-ethical viewpoint. This study could help to solve social problems through theological education.

Keywords: learning approaches; religious education; religious pluralism; social communication; textual analysis.


Gender equality in society is to strengthen the community itself (Agarwal 2018; Heymann et al. 2019). One of the efforts to support gender equality is women’s empowerment (Glas, Spierings & Scheepers 2018; Sen 2019). However, women’s empowerment is not a stand-alone goal (Topal 2019). Apart from being an integral part of the religious visions (Graff, Kapur & Walters 2019), empowerment is an effort to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger (Tang 2022), achieve universal primary education (Masuda & Yamauchi 2020), reduce child and maternal mortality (Santoso et al. 2019), and maintain public health (O’Hara & Clement 2018). In addition, women’s empowerment is also a driving force for sound environmental management (Doss et al. 2018) and world order (Eichenberg 2019).

Empowering women through gender equality education, thus, continues to be necessary (Perempuan & Tahunan 2020; Psaki, McCarthy & Mensch 2018). Because the awareness to develop all sections of society must be instilled from an early age (Heath, Sommerfield & Von Ungern-Sternberg 2020; Wulansari 2017), at the school level, the students will later be the ones who build the community itself (Fiock 2020). From within their teachings, religions in Indonesia have responded to this phenomenon (Dadi 2021), including Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism (Prihatini 2020; Pasaribu 2021). Catholic teaching itself views developing a gender-just society (Davis 2019). Therefore, in Indonesia, the religious leaders recommend that the instructions of these religions be included in the National Curriculum. In this case, Catholic leaders in Indonesia conceptualised Catholic Education and Ethics Curriculum 2013 (PAK Kurtilas).

Gender is a concept that examines the differences between men and women due to the formation of personalities from society (prevailing social conditions, customs, and culture). In this sense, gender is a form of social engineering. Gender is not something natural (Roded 2015:61). The term ‘gender’ was first introduced by Stoller (1964:4) to separate human characteristics based on definitions, both socio-cultural and those derived from biological, and physical attributes.

Regarding the content of multicultural values that will be analysed from the PAK Kurtilas textbook as an object of research, Ameny-Dixon (2004:1–12) outlines the position of texts in the frame of the concept of global ideas about multicultural values. Ameny-Dixon states that textbook analysis in research falls into the worldwide idea of multiculturalism, particularly in ‘detecting bias in texts and media’. In other words, this global frame map of multiculturalism provides a place for textbook analysis in his research. The study shows the actual condition of the text and the message it conveys. This analysis reveals several things that need to be completed as recommendations so that PAK Kurtilas’ role becomes more strategic in mainstreaming gender equality.

Research methods and design

This study uses critical discourse analysis (CDA) (Fairclough 2003). This strategy was chosen with the notion that each communication from the text as the object of study is contextual. Here, at one stage of analysis, the concerns expressed by the text become related discourses and have the potential to have implicit relationships with other discourses (Fairclough 2003:11). These discourses are also related to specific constructions of global and national space-time, which can be seen from the same perspective. Halliday (1975:18) explains that text is an example of linguistic interaction where people use language, whatever is said or written. In other words, the text is related to what is done, interpreted, and told by the community in real situations.

Text analysis is the initial stage in understanding the use of language in the text. The use of language is closely related to the context of the situation. Fairclough (2003) explained that this context is included in the production process and interpretation of the text. Furthermore, the cultural context becomes the socio-cultural practice of the discourse. The final stage explains the form of a message called the interrelationship between text and context. This research uses this analysis flow. This type of research is qualitative research with data collected in qualitative data, namely data presented in spoken words instead of numbers (Muhadjir 1996:196). The analysis used is critical discourse analysis. The following is the data analysed to converge into the study results.


This section will discuss the following issues: gender mainstreaming in education, the 2013 Curriculum, and gender equality in the school curriculum.

Gender mainstreaming to education

Since 2008, the Indonesian government has formulated a Gender Mainstreaming policy in education (Permendiknas No. 84 of 2008) (Dewi 2017:17). Efforts to mainstream gender continue to receive attention. In 2013, a study on One Decade of Gender Mainstreaming in the Education Sector was carried out (Pendidikan & Kebudayaan 2013). The result is three recommendations for developing gender mainstreaming (Manusia 2007:5). First, the Ministry of Education and Culture and Religious Affairs Regulations oblige all Directorates-General to mainstream gender equality in education at all school levels. Second, the Minister of Home Affairs Regulation obliges all local governments and parliaments s to mainstream gender equality in education. Third, the Regulation of the Minister of Religion obliges all Regional Offices and Offices of the Ministry of Religion District-City to mainstream gender equality in education at any school level.

Gender mainstreaming is a national and international commitment intended to achieve gender equality and justice (Nurhaeni 2011:25). The gender mainstreaming strategy is implemented in the education sector to ensure that all citizens, both men, and women, can develop their potential by being provided with a positive picture of gender. In addition, human enlightenment, both male and female, is through education (Lailisna 2015:116). More specifically, this gender mainstreaming strategy can be implemented in multicultural education. One of the goals of multicultural education is to help students build cross-cultural dependence and give them a positive picture of group differences, including gender differences (Banks 2013:54).

Schools can integrate multicultural education into their institution, especially civic education and Social Studies subjects, language, and the like (Wihardit 2010:99). Every subject teacher can integrate multicultural teaching into the subjects they teach (Rohman & Mukhibat 2017:31–56). The possible way to organise multicultural insights in Indonesia is through religious education (Abdullah 2005:2). Religious education with a multicultural perspective is aimed at meeting people’s needs for education on an ongoing basis while at the same time presenting the face of religion and culture and its relationships with equality and harmony. Thus, religious education emphasises that multiculturalism is an opportunity and possibility to learn from each other about preparing and celebrating a plurality of religions, ethnicity, and culture through the world of education (Baidhawy 2005:86).

In Indonesia, one form of religious education is Catholic Religious Education and Ethics 2013 Curriculum or PAK Kurtilas (Pendidikan Agama Katolik dan Etika Kurikulum Tiga Belas). The 2013 curriculum is revised based on the ideas in the Competency-Based Curriculum Pioneer (KBK) of 2004. However, these efforts have not been resolved due to the pressure to implement the 2006 Education Unit Level Curriculum (KTSP). The 2013 curriculum itself is a curriculum that prioritises understanding, skills, and character education. This curriculum requires students to understand the material, be active in discussions and presentations, and have courtesy and high discipline (Hadi et al. 2017:7).

PAK Kurtilas is the primary basis for the moral development of students in schools, although the role of parents as the first and foremost educators cannot be replaced by schools (Gravissimum Educationis No. 3). In the context of Indonesia, PAK is an effort that is carried out in a planned and sustainable manner to develop the ability of students to strengthen their faith and devotion to God Almighty, following the teachings of the Catholics. These efforts are carried out while still paying attention to respect for other religions to create harmony between religious communities to realise national unity (Setyawan 2014:2). In particular, the Catechetical Commission of the Indonesian Bishops’ Conference (Komkat KWI) as the party responsible for implementing PAK in Indonesia stipulates that PAK should be directed to educate hearts and minds in human and religious values, by educating them for dialogue, for peace and personal relationships based on teachings of the Church (Dokumentasi & Penerangan 1999:21).

Concerning multicultural education, PAK Kurtilas contains materials on understanding gender equality. This study aims to demonstrate the strategic role of PAK Kurtilas in mainstreaming gender equality. This study places the PAK Kurtilas textbook (class I–XII) as the research object. Textbooks are tools for students to understand and learn about the world outside themselves reading. Textbooks can be viewed as a store of knowledge about various aspects of life. Because it has been prepared in terms of completeness and presentation, the textbook provides independent study activities about the substance and the strategy. The use of textbooks is part of the book culture, one of the signs of a developed society (Chambliss & Calfee 1998:48). The object of this research is mainly material that contains gender equality.

2013 curriculum

Like other lessons, PAK Kurtilas positions textbooks as the primary means of delivering teaching materials. The identity of PAK Kurtilas is described in Table 1.

TABLE 1: Identity of the PAK Kurtilas textbooks.

The PAK Kurtilas textbook, arranged by the Ministry of Education and Culture of the Republic of Indonesia, contains teaching materials for one year. Students receive the teaching materials in a year in two semesters, namely Semester 1 and Semester 2. According to the Secretary of the Catechetical Commission of the Indonesian Bishops’ Conference (Komkat KWI) for the 2012–2018 period, Father Leo Sugiyono MSC (KWI 2019:6), the PAK Kurtilas textbook is prepared for Class I–XII consisting of teacher books and student books, with subtitles for Elementary School level ‘Learning to Know Jesus’, for Junior High School ‘Learning to Follow Jesus’, and for Senior High School ‘Sent as Disciples of Jesus’. This subtitle is chosen based on the development of the student’s faith, starting from habituation or recognition of faith, then the steps of understanding marked by the student’s character. At the high school level, students may already have the ability to live up to and even become witnesses of their faith.

The process of compiling such is in line with the research of Truna (2017:97–98). At the elementary school level, students get an introduction to pictures of places of worship, religious leadership structures, various local traditional clothes, regional languages, and religious festivals attended by students from different socio-cultural and religious backgrounds. Students get several concepts related to the teachings of religions and religious tolerance at the secondary school and tertiary education levels. This textbook also contains various kinds of color illustrations. The illustrations mainly serve to complement the narrative of the biblical texts and stimulate the students’ imagination. In addition, this textbook also contains several song texts. Among other things, ‘God creates’ (KWI 2019:53) and ‘God’s eyes see’ (KWI 2019:8). These song texts facilitate a motoric activity for the students, in motion and play.

PAK Kurtilas Class I– XII textbooks contain a foreword from the Indonesian Bishops’ Conference (Komkat KWI). The preface emphasizes that this textbook is prepared based on the 2013 Curriculum. Religious learning increases spiritual insight, hones religious skills, and creates a complete and balanced religious attitude of students, including the relationship between human beings and their Creator, fellow humans, and humans with their environment (KWI 2019:5–6). Gender equality materials have a position in a whole and balanced relationship between humans and their Creator and their fellow humans.

Following the 2013 Curriculum, PAK Kurtilas contains two competencies, namely Core Competencies and Basic Competencies. Core Competencies bind all Basic Competencies that must be produced by studying each subject. Through Core Competencies, vertical integration of all Basic Competencies in different classes can be maintained. Meanwhile, Basic Competence is the competence of each subject for each class derived from Core Competencies. Essential Competencies consist of attitudes, knowledge, and cognitive and psychomotor skills derived from Core Competencies that students must master. For the record, attitude is a content mastery ability that is more difficult to develop and requires an indirect educational process. Knowledge is content that is complete (mastery). Cognitive and psychomotor skills are the abilities to master content that can be trained. These competencies are developed by paying attention to the characteristics of students, initial skills, and attributes of a subject, considering that the competency standards of graduates must be achieved at the end of each education level (Pendidikan & Kebudayaan 2013:13).

PAK Kurtilas contains 400 Basic Competencies from Grade I (Sekolah Dasar – SD, Elementary School) to class XII (Sekolah Menengah Atas – SMA, Senior High School). A total of 400 Basic Competencies underwent an analysis process to determine the percentage content of their multicultural values. This study uses four core multicultural values as its indicators. All forms of multicultural education must always contain their four core values. First, an appreciation of the cultural diversity found in people’s lives. Second, recognition of equal dignity and human rights. Third, instilling a sense of human responsibility for cultural diversity in the world community. Fourth, is the development of human responsibility for planet earth (Truna 2017:31).

The analysis process found 159 Basic Competencies, or 39.7% of the total number of PAK Basic Competencies that contained multicultural values with different percentage distributions.

Gender equality in school curriculum

In its textbook, PAK Kurtilas describes Basic Competencies into themes. The use of learning pieces (as a subject) can integrate several Basic Competencies at once. The integration carried out includes two things: First, integrating attitudes, skills, and knowledge in learning. Second is integrating various related basic concepts (Daryanto 2014:81). Citing the Thematic Learning Guidelines published by the Ministry of National Education’s Curriculum R & D Center, Mujimin (2006:34–35) explains that learning themes can provide many advantages in learning practices.

Based on Mujimin WM’s opinion, the discussion using the themes in the PAK Kurtilas textbook becomes a way for students to achieve Basic Competencies containing multicultural values described in Table 2 with multicultural (core) values as an indicator. The following is the distribution of multicultural themes contained in PAK Kurtilas.

TABLE 2: PAK Kurtilas’ multicultural themes.

The PAK Kurtilas textbook has 48 sections containing multicultural values according to its indicators, namely four core multicultural values. The most varied themes of the four multicultural core values cultivate a sense of responsibility for cultural diversity in the world community with eight themes. Based on the themes of teaching materials, Table 2 shows that the theme of ‘equality of men and women’ and the theme of ‘the integrity of the environment created by God’ appeared the most. The theme of ‘equality of men and women’ was discussed in Class I, Class IV, Class V, Class VII, and Class X. The theme ‘the integrity of the environment created by God’ was discussed in Class I, Class III, Class V , Class IX, and Class XII. With few themes amid many themes, gender awareness in these school books does not talk much about different types of gender. So, gender here is only the traditional two gender, namely male and female only. Follow-up discussions do not appear to be taught in Catholic schools in Indonesia.

The analysis reveals that the theme of equality of men and women (gender equality) is essential in the PAK Kurtilas. Five classes from three levels of education provide understanding to students according to their age development needs. This theme is contained in the PAK textbooks for Class I, Class IV, Class V, and Class VII. Class I PAK textbook puts this theme in the subject of ‘God created man’. The Class IV of the PAK textbook emphasizes equality of men and women in Chapter I, entitled ‘Personal and my environment’. The Class V of the PAK textbook explains that the more a child develops according to the traditions or customs he/she lives, the more diverse his/her duties and responsibilities become. The Class VII of the PAK textbook discusses the theme of equality of men and women in a separate chapter entitled ‘I am proud as a woman or man’ (KWI 2019:40–58).

In particular, the PAK Class IV textbook discusses the theme of men and women being treated equally in the sub-title, ‘The environment helps develop myself as a woman or a man’. The sub-title explains that everyone lives in an environment. The environment in question can be in the form of a natural environment or community environment. The natural and community settings influence each person’s formation and personal development. There is a good influence. There are also bad influences. In particular, the community or socio-cultural environment, such as customs, participates in developing one’s identity as a woman or a man (KWI 2019:15).

By carrying out duties and responsibilities, a person can further build his character as a man or woman. In society, it can be seen that men and women have different duties or jobs. Physical conditions very much influence the duties and employment of men and women. Because of their physical condition, men tend to choose jobs and roles that are somewhat hard and require physical labor. On the other hand, due to their delicate, gentle, and graceful physique, women often choose the more refined types of work.

With the times and the equality of men and women (gender), there are jobs and roles that men and women also like. For example, women become bus or truck drivers, masons, and construction workers. Likewise, men become nurses, cooks, laundrymen, and babysitters (KWI 2019:15). The Class V of the PAK textbook explains that adult society views men and women with the same dignity and degree. Men and women have the same rights and opportunities to achieve their dreams and develop their abilities. Therefore, men and women might engage in similar behaviors and activities and be natural. For example, they play soccer, serve in the army, work as a bus driver, or work as mechanics. So, occupation or activity is no longer solely a man’s domain. On the other hand, men can also care for babies, cook, wash clothes, sew clothes, etc. The choice of teenage girls to become members of the cheerleading team and boys as soccer players is more due to social perceptions than internal desires (Harrison & Lynch 2005:227–36).

This phenomenon shows that men and women have the same degree, even though some activities cannot be changed, namely practices and actions related to being male or female. In breastfeeding a baby, for example, only women can do this. Men cannot do this (KWI 2019:20). On the other hand, men can fertilize eggs, while women cannot. This description received confirmation from Mosse (1993:2). The difference between sex and gender can be described in the Table 3.

TABLE 3: Differences between sex and gender.

Here, being male or female is a gift. However, the path that makes humans’ social role of being masculine or feminine is a combination of basic biological structures and biological interpretations formed from culture. Natural things for women and men are not biologically interchangeable. Whereas in social position, everything can be exchanged according to the community’s needs (Rahman 2018:58).

To help understand the equality of men and women, the Class I of the PAK textbook provides materials with invitations to show prayers and sing songs. The prayers and songs are filled with gratitude because God has created humans as women and men and made them live in harmony and respect for each other (KWI 2019:52–53) (see Figure 1 and Figure 2).

FIGURE 1: Thank God Prayer.

FIGURE 2: The song ‘God creates’.

The teacher leads the students to summarize this topic (KWI 2019:58). (1) The first human beings on earth were Adam and Eve. (2) God created Adam from a formed lump of earth. (3) Eve was created from a rib from Adam. (4) Adam and Eve lived in the garden of Eden. (5) Adam and Eve were in charge of caring for all of God’s creations. (6) We thank God who created Adam and Eve and all of us. The analysis of the terms women and men complements and confirms the equality of women and men mentioned in the same book in the previous section. The last section is a narrative episode on the text of Genesis 1:26–31. This episode is the narrative of the creation of the first version. The creation of man is introduced more impressively than any preceding work by the announcement of a divine resolution, ‘Let us make a man’. God participates more intimately and intensively in this than in the earlier works of creation. Therefore, the Hebrew word ’ādām (‘man’) is a collective and is never used in the plural. It literally means both man and woman. So, it is clear that since the first narrative episode of the creation story in Genesis, man and woman is said together as creations that have the same position.

But, maybe that meaning is not clear enough to explain the togetherness. So, the narrative episode opens itself to self-criticism or God’s evaluation of His work (Gn 1:27). The subject of criticism is humans. In this narrative episode of the creation of man in the Priesterkodex Tradition, God calls the man a creation in His image. Furthermore, the closing of the narrative episode (Gn 1:31) affirms that humans are the perfect creation among other creatures, God expresses His satisfaction. The expression of God’s satisfaction can be seen from the expression that everything He made was perfect on that day. The two verses reveal and, simultaneously, emphasize that humans are the most excellent as God’s creation. That perfection includes both females and males as creations. Here, equality between women and men is evident (Bhanu Viktorahadi 2022:108–109).

The description of the theme of equality between men and women in the PAK Kurtilas textbook is summarized in the following matrix Table 4.

TABLE 4: Male and female equality matrix.

The description of the theme of equality of men and women was deepened with explanations. The Class VII PAK textbook uses four articles from the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) to explain that the Catholic Church pays considerable attention to fighting for equality between men and women. The four articles from the CCC are article 369, article 371, article 372, and article 2335 (Church 1994):

Man and woman have been created, which is to say, willed by God: on the one hand, in perfect equality as human persons; on the other, in their respective beings as man and woman. ‘Being man’ or ‘being woman’ is a reality which is good and willed by God: man and woman possess an inalienable dignity which comes to them immediately from God their Creator. Man and woman are both with one and the same dignity ‘in the image of God’. In their ‘being-man’ and ‘being-woman’, they reflect the Creator’s wisdom andgoodness. (CCC 369:84)

God created man and woman together and willed each for the other. The Word of God gives us to understand this through various features of the sacred text. ‘It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make him a helper fit for him’. None of the animals can be man’s partner. The woman God ‘fashions’ from the man’s rib and brings to him elicits on the man’s part a cry of wonder, an exclamation of love and communion: ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh’. Man discovers woman as another ‘I’, sharing the same humanity. (CCC 371:85)

Man and woman were made ‘for each other’ – not that God left them half-made and incomplete: he created them to be a communion of persons, in which each can be ‘helpmate’ to the other, for they are equal as persons (‘bone of may bones…’) and complementary as masculine and feminine. In marriage God unites them in such a way that, by formin ‘one flesh’, they can transmit human life: ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth’. By transmitting human life to their descendants, man and woman as spouses and parents cooperate in a unique way in the Creator’s work. (CCC 372:85)

Each of the two sexes in an image of the power and tenderness of God, with equal dignity though in a different way. The union of man and woman in marriage is a way of imitating in the flesh the Creator’s generosity and fecundity: ‘Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh’. All human generations proceed from this union. (CCC 2335:475–476)

As a conclusion to the discussion of this theme, the textbook PAK Class VII provides a summary of the explanation of the equality of men and women (KWI 2019:51): (1) The superiority of human dignity is not determined by a person’s sexual, whether male or female. Men and women are God’s glorious creation. Therefore, insulting a person is the same as insulting his/her Creator. (2) Men and women are equal. Both respect each other and do not consider the opposite sex a rival. (3) God created mankind, both female and male, in His image. Therefore, the call for human beings to develop themselves, whether as women or men, is mainly so that human beings can display and radiate the image of God.

Meanwhile, to explain the characteristics of women and men from the point of view of the scripture, the PAK textbook Classes I, IV, and V uses the text of the Book of Genesis (Gn 2):

[T]he Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make a helper for him, a match for him’. And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air. He brought it all to the man to see how he named it, and as the name that man gives to every creature the living, that is the name of the creature. The man gave names to all the livestock, to the birds of the air and to all the animals of the forest, but for himself he could not find a helper to match him. Then the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man; while he slept, the Lord God took one of his ribs and covered it with flesh. And He created a woman out of the rib that the Lord God had taken from man, and brought her to the man. Then the man said: ‘Here she is, bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. She will be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man’. (vv. 18–23)

This text is the narrative of the creation of man and woman. The narrative explains two meanings of the story of human creation. The first meaning presents human as the final creation of the creation of the universe. There is no hierarchy or inequality between the sexes that human beings possess in that creation.

This assumption that there is a hierarchy gives rise to gender inequality. Gender differences have given rise to patterns of injustice. The pattern emerges in marginalization, subordination, stereotyping, negative labeling, violence, and a more significant workload (Mustam 2015:137). The existence of injustice against women appears in the marginalization and stereotyping of society toward women. For example, the perception that women should perform sexual attraction should be willing to experience sexual harassment and be aware of men’s aggressive behavior. All the images are in the mass media coverage (Dawson & Chivers 2014:212). This erroneous view breeds subordination, double burden, and violence against women.

The second meaning of the creation story illustrates that women were created from men. In this sense, God assigns different roles between men and women. The narrative explicitly states that the part of women is as helpers of men (Gomola 2014:78). The role of this helper also shows that the degree of women is equal to that of men.

The first part of the text of Genesis 2:18 reveals God’s self-criticism of the human beings He has created.

Bibelgesellschaft (1967):

Wayyōmer Yahweh ‘ēlōhim lō-tōḇ hēyōt hā’āḏām leḇaddō’ e-ēśeh lō ‘ēzer keneḡdō.

[God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make him a help for him ‘meet’]. (Gn 2:18)

The autocritical explains that solitude is not good (lō-tōḇ hēyōt). God created humans to live together to socialize. God saw that it would be beneficial if other created beings could be helpers to free a human from loneliness. Therefore, God planned to make a ‘helper for him’ (keneḡdō). The word keneḡdō can mean ‘suitable or fitting for him’. This word expresses the meaning of similarity or alignment. The term also simultaneously contains the meaning of supplementation or addition to be complete. In other words, this helper is a parallel creation that provides completeness and physical and mental support (Von Rad 1961:82).

Furthermore, God formed (also) from the ground all kinds of land animals and birds in the air to find helpers for human beings. God provided all that to be a helper for man. However, this time God’s creation did not succeed. Other creatures in the existence of animals do help humans. However, they are not suitable helpers for human beings. God formed the helper not from the ground like the animals but the man himself to match and align. God made the helper from one of man’s ribs when man slept soundly (Gn 2:22). Here a woman is also a helper (ezer) to the man. To this, the position of helper does not infer inferiority. So, woman and man are equal.

Furthermore, Genesis 2:23 from the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgarttensia describes how God made a suitable helper for humanity.

Biblia Hebraica Stuttgarttensia (1967):

Wayyōmer hā’āḏām zōṯ happa’am ‘eṣem mē’āṣāmay ūḇāśār mibbeśāri’ lezōṯ yiqqārē ‘i ššāh kī mē’i š luqoḥāh-zōṯ

[Then the man said: ‘Here he is, bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. She will be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man]. (Gn 2:23)

God has provided a helper himself and a match for him (keneḡdō). The text reveals that man directly responds to God’s creation for himself in the form of a corresponding helper. The response also indicates an inter-gender interest that directs the two’s permanent relationship to God-ordained maintenance (Davies 1998; Whybray 1995:38). The human answer is to give a name to the helper. Here it appears that naming is an authentic expression of appreciation worthy of human’s enthusiasm, thanks to his alignment with the helper (Von Rad 1961:82). The text uses the Hebrew word ‘iššāh to name‘ the corresponding helper’. This word can mean ‘wife’. The word comes from the root word ‘iš. The word ‘iš means ‘husband’. Both words can also mean ‘son’ (‘iš) and ‘daughter’ (‘iššāh). These two words are very similar in both form and sound. Here there seems to be a linguistic harmony, both the form and the sound. This alignment also indicates the existence of alignment. This narrative and linguistic realities reveal the meaning that human beings in the description of creation are two (man and woman). This reality shows that the two are parallel (LaCocque & Ricoeur 2003:41; Ricoeur 2013).

The analysis of the terms women and men complements and confirms the equality of women and men mentioned in the same book in the previous section. The last section is a narrative episode on the text of Genesis 1:27–31. This episode is the narrative of the creation of the first version. The narrative episode opens itself up to a kind of self-criticism or God’s evaluation of his own work (Gn 1:27). The subject of criticism is humans. In this episode of the narrative of the creation of man in the Priesterkodex Tradition, God calls man a creation in his image.

Furthermore, the closing of the narrative episode (Gn 1:31) affirms that humans are the perfect creation among other creatures, God expresses His satisfaction. The expression of God’s satisfaction can be seen from the expression that everything He made was perfect on that day. The two verses reveal and, simultaneously, emphasize that humans are the most excellent as God’s creation. That perfection includes both females and males as creations. Here, the degree of equality between women and men is obvious (Bhanu Viktorahadi 2022).

Apart from that theoretical and interpretive explanation, students and teachers have experienced the parallels between these women and men in their daily life experiences, whether at home, at school, or in other public places. In other words, the interpretation of the text repeats several details of those human experiences. The relationship between human experience and the text or interpretation is formulated in the keyword mimesis (IJsseling 1990:9). Ricœur translates the keyword as ‘creative imitation’. This creative imitation transforms the human experience that occurs thanks to the influence of the text or interpretation on the text that is read or heard (Ricoeur 1981:52–87). Thus, the explanation and interpretation of the text of the book of Genesis (Gn 2: 18–23) is not just cognitive information but also from the student’s own life experience. Furthermore, the explanation receives compliments or enhances the lives of students when they meet or interact with individuals outside of themselves, both women and men, with a transformed understanding.

The discussion on equality between men and women in the PAK Kurtilas textbook is summarized in the following matrix in Table 5.

TABLE 5: Discussion matrix equality of men and women.

The description and discussion of gender equality in PAK Kurtilas include two aspects, namely normative and historical. It is in line with the opinion of Mulia (2019). According to her, gender in Indonesia’s education world touches on two aspects. First, normatively. Several texts govern the existence, function, and relationship of men and women, both domestic and public. Second, historically (Enginer 1994:55). What is meant is that the texts are understood, interpreted, and practiced in various lives in a non-monolithic socio-cultural setting. Historically, there has been male dominance in all walks of life, where women were considered inferior to men. From here, the doctrine of inequality between men and women emerged.

Furthermore, what must be paid attention to is the extent to which the material on gender equality in the frame of multicultural education presented by PAK Kurtilas is in line with the established indicators. In this case, the Government of Indonesia, through the Ministry of Education and Culture (MOEC) has established indicators of gender equality education, especially the standard content of the material in Table 6.

TABLE 6: Content standards for gender-responsive school indicators.

Referring to these indicators, the analysis shows that the PAK Kurtilas textbook contains and applies these indicators in the material on gender equality quite comprehensively. Gender equality materials have been integrated into the learning components and materials.

For students to understand gender equality well, schools, especially teachers, must find appropriate approaches and methods. To provide gender justice in education, Indonesia’s Analytical and Capacity Development Partnership (ACPD) has provided references (ACDP, 2013). According to Indonesia’s ACDP, the learning approach must be gender-responsive. The teaching approach and methods used in teaching, assessing, and interacting with students must find and observe the psychological tendencies. Female pupils, for example, quickly lose motivation when they are underperforming.

In contrast, male students did not experience similar conditions. A sense of failure can drive male students to achieve better (Vollmer & Almas 1974:312). On the other hand, female students are more concerned with pleasing others, such as parents and teachers (Alper 1977:295; Wong et al. 2005). As a result, they tend to be more accepted by adults because they are more obedient. Proximity to educators is cited as one of the keys to motivation in achieving high values (Steinmayr & Spinath 2008:187).


Understanding gender equality is essential for students. The urgency in providing comprehensive education on formal gender equality is so that there is awareness to strengthen the community. Regarding this phenomenon, PAK Kurtilas (Catholic Education and Ethics Curriculum 2013) shows its strategic role as a guide to the values of gender equality in educating multiculturalism. The material presented in the curriculum requires students to be grateful to God who created humans, and so that everyone, by recognizing the social or socio-cultural environment, can develop themselves in their identity as women or men, also realizing that men and women have equal rights and opportunities to achieve their goals and develop their capacities.

PAK Kurtilas is based on official teachings, namely the holy book (Bible) and Church traditions (Catechism of the Catholic Church). These teaching sources emphasize the three consciousnesses. First, the narrative explicitly states that the role of women is as male assistants. This helper role also shows that women are equal to men (Gn 2:18–23). Second, the Church’s tradition completes the identity of a boy who matures into a fully responsible adult man with all of his duties (Lk 2:41–52). Third, the Catholic Church pays excellent attention to fighting for equality between women and men (CCC article 369, article 371, article 372, and article 2335). The gender equality material in the multicultural education framework delivered by PAK Kurtilas aligns with the gender equality education indicators issued by the Ministry of Education and Culture of the Republic of Indonesia.

To understand gender equality well, schools, especially teachers, must find the right approach and method. The teaching approaches and techniques used in teaching, assessing, and interacting with students must discover and observe the psychological tendencies of those around them. This research can be continued by exploring the effect of teaching gender equality in schools on students’ behavior.


The authors would like to express their gratitude to Catholic School administrators of Bandung City, for their willingness to participate in this research. Also, the authors would like to thank the volunteers who answered their questions.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no financial or personal relationships that may have inappropriately influenced them in writing this article.

Authors’ contributions

D.S.T. researched the field and formed the research format. R.F.B.V. helped D.S.T. in the area and in conducting data analysis. M.Z.H. helped formulate research, helped conduct interviews, analysed, and wrote down the data.

Ethical considerations

This article followed all ethical standards for research without direct contact with human or animal subjects.

Funding information

This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

Data availability

Data sharing is not applicable to this article as no new data were created or analysed in this study.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any affiliated agency of the authors.


Abdullah, M.A., 2005, Pendidikan agama era multikultural-multireligius, Pusat Studi Agama dan Peradaban Muhammadiyah, Jakarta.

Agarwal, B., 2018, ‘Gender equality, food security and the sustainable development goals’, Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 34, 26–32. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cosust.2018.07.002

Alper, T., 1977, ‘Where are we now? Discussion of papers presented in the 1975 AERA Symposium on Sex Differences in Achievement Motivation and Achievement Behavior’, Psychology of Women Quarterly 1(3), 294–303.

Ameny-Dixon, G.M., 2004, ‘Why multicultural education is more important in higher education now than ever: A global perspective’, International Journal of Scholarly Academic Intellectual Diversity 8(1), 1–9.

Baidhawy, Z., 2005, Pendidikan agama berwawasan Multikultural, Erlangga, Bandung.

Banks, J.A., 2013, ‘The construction and historical development of multicultural education, 1962–2012’, Theory into Practice 52(1), 73–82. https://doi.org/10.1080/00405841.2013.795444

Bhanu Viktorahadi, R.F., 2022, Buku Ajar Eksegese: Perjanjian Lama Taurat.

Catholic Church, 1994, Catechism of the Catholic Church, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Vatican City.

Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1999, Catechism of the Catholic Church, Canadian Council of Catholic Bishops, Ottawa.

Chambliss, M. & Calfee, R., 1998, Textbooks for learning: Nurturing children’s minds, Blackwell Publishing, Oxford.

Dadi, D., 2021, ‘Women empowerment in Indonesia: Community learning activity center programs’, AL-ISHLAH: Jurnal Pendidikan 13(3), 1823–1834. https://doi.org/10.35445/alishlah.v13i3.1152

Daryanto, H.S., 2014, Siap menyongsong kurikulum 2013, Gava Media, Yogyakarta.

Davies, E.W., 1998, ‘R. Norman Whybray, Introduction to the Pentateuch’, Journal of Semitic Studies 43(1), 151–152.

Davis, N.L., 2019, Women in ministry: How conflicts between God’s purpose and church doctrine impact the efficacy of female church leaders, Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Dawson, S.J. & Chivers, M.L., 2014, ‘Gender differences and similarities in sexual desire’, Current Sexual Health Reports 6(4), 211–219. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11930-014-0027-5

Dewi, A., 2017, Pertanggung Jawaban Hukum Terhadap Sekolah Dasar dalam Menyediakan Prasarana yang Mengedepankan Pengarusatamaan Gender Ditinjau dari Peraturan Menteri Pendidikan Nasional Nomor 84 Tahun 2008 (Studi di Sekolah Dasar Se Kecamatan Bulang Kota Batam), Universitas Internasional Batam, Batam.

Dokumentasi, D. & Penerangan, K.W.I., 1999, Kumpulan Dokumen Ajaran Sosial Gereja Katolik tahun 1891-1991, Depdokpen KWI, Jakarta.

Doss, C., Meinzen-Dick, R., Quisumbing, A. & Theis, S., 2018, ‘Women in agriculture: Four myths’, Global Food Security 16, 69–74. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gfs.2017.10.001

Eichenberg, R.C., 2019, Gender, war, and world order, Cornell University Press, New York, NY.

Enginer, A.A., 1994, ‘Hak-Hak Perempuan dalam Islam’, in L. Margiyani (ed.), transl. F. Wajidi & C. Farkha Assegaf, p. 294, Lembaga Studi Pengembangan Perempuan dan Anak, Yogyakarta.

Fairclough, N., 2003, Analysing discourse: Textual analysis for social research, Psychology Press, London.

Fiock, H., 2020, ‘Designing a community of inquiry in online courses’, The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning 21(1), 135–153. https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v20i5.3985

Glas, S., Spierings, N. & Scheepers, P., 2018, ‘Re-understanding religion and support for gender equality in Arab countries’, Gender & Society 32(5), 686–712. https://doi.org/10.1177/0891243218783670

Gomola, A., 2014, ‘Conceptual blends with shepherd (s)/sheep imagery in selected patristic writings’, Studia Religiologica. Zeszyty Naukowe Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego 47(4), 275–284.

Graff, A., Kapur, R. & Walters, S.D., 2019, ‘Introduction: Gender and the rise of the global right’, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 44(3), 541–560. https://doi.org/10.1086/701152

Hadi, D.W., Dokhi, M., Siagian, T.H., Rahani, R. & Sukim, S., 2017, Analisis Sikap Toleransi di Indonesia dan Faktor-Faktornya, Bidang Pendayagunaan dan Pelayanan-Pusat Data dan Statistik Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan, Kemendikbud, Jakarta.

Halliday, M.A.K., 1975, ‘Learning how to mean’, in E.H. Lenneberg & E. Lenneberg (eds.), Foundations of language development, pp. 239–265, Elsevier, Amsterdam.

Harrison, L.A. & Lynch, A.B., 2005, ‘Social role theory and the perceived gender role orientation of athletes’, Sex Roles 52(3), 227–236. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-005-1297-1

Heath, C., Sommerfield, A. & von Ungern-Sternberg, B.S., 2020, ‘Resilience strategies to manage psychological distress among healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic: A narrative review’, Anaesthesia 75(10), 1364–1371. https://doi.org/10.1111/anae.15180

Heymann, J., Levy, J.K., Bose, B., Ríos-Salas, V., Mekonen, Y., Swaminathan, H. et al., 2019, ‘Improving health with programmatic, legal, and policy approaches to reduce gender inequality and change restrictive gender norms’, The Lancet 393(10190), 2522–2534. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(19)30656-7

Huriani, Y. & Annibras, N.R., 2019, ‘Decision making process of women migrant workers in West Java: The intertwine of religion, culture, and social reality’, Wawasan: Jurnal Ilmiah Agama dan Sosial Budaya 5(1), 57–66.

IJsseling, S., 1990, On authenticity and inauthenticity and the problem of mimesis in Heidegger, Heidegger: A centenary appraisal, Date: 1990/01/01-1990/01/01, Duquesne University, Simon Silverman Phenomenology Center, Pittsburgh, pp. 13–27.

Kemdikbud, 2014, Kurikulum 2013, Kementerian Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan, Jakarta.

Komisi Kateketik, K.W.I., 2017, Pendidikan Agama Katolik dan Budi Pekerti: Belajar Mengikuti Yesus untuk SMP Kelas VII.

KWI, 2018, Konferensi Waligereja Indonesia, Nota Pastoral KWI 2018. Panggilan Hidup Menggereja dalam Hidup Berbangsa. Menjadi Gereja yang Relevan dan Signifikan, Penerbit Obor, Jakarta.

KWI, 2019, Konferensi Waligereja Indonesia, Dokumen tentang Persaudaraan Manusia untuk Perdamaian Dunia dan Hidup Beragama, Departemen Dokumentasi dan Penerangan, Jakarta.

LaCocque, A. & Ricoeur, P., 2003, Thinking biblically: Exegetical and hermeneutical studies, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL.

Lailisna, N.N., 2015, ‘Pendidikan Untuk Kesetaraan: Hak Bersama education for equality: Equal rights’, Musãwa Jurnal Studi Gender dan Islam 14(2), 113–122. https://doi.org/10.14421/musawa.2015.142.113-122

Manusia, K.H. dan H.A., 2007, Undang-undang republik indonesia Nomor 17 tahun 2007 Tentang Rencana pembangunan jangka panjang nasional Tahun 2005–2025, Kementerian Negara Perencanaan Pembangunan Nasional, Jakarta.

Masuda, K. & Yamauchi, C., 2020, ‘How does female education reduce adolescent pregnancy and improve child health?: Evidence from Uganda’s universal primary education for fully treated cohorts’, The Journal of Development Studies 56(1), 63–86. https://doi.org/10.1080/00220388.2018.1546844

Mosse, J.C., 1993, Half the world half a chance: An introduction to gender and development, Oxfam GB, Oxford.

Muhadjir, N., 1996, Metodologi penelitian kualitatif: pendekatan positivistik, rasionalistik, phenomenologik, dan realisme metaphisik telaah studi teks dan penelitian agama, Rake Sarasin, Yogyakarta.

Mujimin, M., 2006, ‘Implementasi pembelajaran Tematik bagi Anak Berkelainan’, JPK (Jurnal Pendidikan Khusus) 2(2), 32–43.

Mulia, M., 2019, ‘Perempuan dalam gerakan terorisme di Indonesia’, Al-Wardah: Jurnal Kajian Perempuan, Gender dan Agama 12(1), 80–95. https://doi.org/10.46339/al-wardah.v12i1.136

Mustam, A., 2015, ‘Pendidikan Berprespektif Gender dan Multikultural’, AL-MAIYYAH: Media Transformasi Gender dalam Paradigma Sosial Keagamaan 8(1), 135–159.

Nurhaeni, I.D.A., 2011, Reformasi kebijakan pendidikan menuju kesetaraan dan keadilan gender, Sebelas Maret University, Surakarta.

O’Hara, C. & Clement, F., 2018, ‘Power as agency: A critical reflection on the measurement of women’s empowerment in the development sector’, World Development 106, 111–123. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.worlddev.2018.02.002

Pasaribu, R.E., 2021, ‘Feminist knowledge, self-empowerment and sisterhood, and safe space: How the “Perempuan Berkisah” community group empowers Indonesian women in the pandemic era’, Journal of International Women’s Studies 22(12), 166–188.

Pendidikan, K. & Kebudayaan, R.I., 2013, Permendikbud nomor 81A tahun 2013 Tentang Implementasi Kurikulum, Kementrian Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan, Jakarta.

Perempuan, K. & Tahunan, C., 2020, Komnas Perempuan, viewed 28 March 2022, from https://www.komnasperempuan.go.id/read-news-menemukenali-kekerasan-dalam-rumah-tangga-kdrt.

Pr, V. & Bhanu, R.F., 2022, Buku Ajar Eksegese: Perjanjian Lama Taurat, Prodi S2 Studi Agama-Agama UIN Sunan Gunung Djati Bandung, Bandung.

Prihatini, E.S., 2020, ‘Islam, parties, and women’s political nomination in Indonesia’, Politics & Gender 16(3), 637–659. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1743923X19000321

Psaki, S.R., McCarthy, K.J. & Mensch, B.S., 2018, ‘Measuring gender equality in education: Lessons from trends in 43 countries’, Population and Development Review 44(1), 117–142. https://doi.org/10.1111/padr.12121

Rahman, M.T., 2018, Pengantar filsafat sosial, Lekkas, Bandung.

Ricoeur, P., 1981, Hermeneutics and the human sciences: Essays on language, action and interpretation, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Ricoeur, P., 2013, Hermeneutics: Writings and lectures, Polity Press, Cambridge.

Roded, R., 2015, ‘Jewish and Islamic religious feminist exegesis of the sacred books: Adam, woman and gender’, Nashim: A Journal of Jewish Women’s Studies & Gender Issues (29), 56–80. https://doi.org/10.2979/nashim.29.56

Rohman, M. & Mukhibat, M., 2017, ‘Internalisasi Nilai-Nilai Sosio-Kultural Berbasis Etno-Religi Di MAN Yogyakarta III’, Edukasia: Jurnal Penelitian Pendidikan Islam 12(1), 31–56. https://doi.org/10.21043/edukasia.v12i1.1771

Santoso, M. V, Kerr, R.B., Hoddinott, J., Garigipati, P., Olmos, S. & Young, S.L., 2019, ‘Role of women’s empowerment in child nutrition outcomes: a systematic review’, Advances in Nutrition 10(6), 1138–1151. https://doi.org/10.1093/advances/nmz056

Sen, G., 2019, ‘Gender equality and women’s empowerment: Feminist mobilization for the SDGs’, Global Policy 10, 28–38. https://doi.org/10.1111/1758-5899.12593

Setyawan, H.S., 2014, ‘Mencari Arah Baru Dialog dengan Agama lain’, Jurnal Kawistara 4(2). https://doi.org/10.22146/kawistara.5675

Steinmayr, R. & Spinath, B., 2008, ‘Sex differences in school achievement: What are the roles of personality and achievement motivation?’, European Journal of Personality: Published for the European Association of Personality Psychology 22(3), 185–209. https://doi.org/10.1002/per.67

Stoller J, R., 1964, ‘A contribution to the study of gender identity’, International Journal of Psycho-Analysis 45, 220–226.

Tang, C.S., 2022, ‘Innovative technology and operations for alleviating poverty through women’s economic empowerment’, Production and Operations Management 31(1), 32–45. https://doi.org/10.1111/poms.13349

Topal, A., 2019, ‘Economic reforms and women’s empowerment in Saudi Arabia’, Women’s Studies International Forum 76, 102253. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wsif.2019.102253

Truna, D.S., 2017, Pendidikan Agama Islam berwawasan Multikulturalisme: Telah Kritis Atas Muatan Pendidikan Agama Islam (PAI) Di perguruan Tinggi umum Di Indonesia, DEPAG, Jakarta.

Viktorahadi, R.F.B., 2022, Buku Ajar Eksegese: Perjanjian Lama Taurat, Prodi S2 Studi Agama-Agama UIN Sunan Gunung Djati Bandung, Bandung.

Vollmer, F. & Almås, R., 1974, ‘Sex differences in achievement motivation’, Scandinavian Journal of Psychology 15(1), 310–313. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9450.1974.tb00593.x

Von Rad, G., 1961, ‘Ancient word and living word: The preaching of deuteronomy and our preaching’, Interpretation 15(1), 3–13. https://doi.org/10.1177/002096436101500101

Whybray, R.N., 1995, Introduction to the Pentateuch, Quicksilver Drive Dulles, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids, MI.

Wihardit, K., 2010, ‘Pendidikan multikultural: Suatu konsep, pendekatan dan solusi’, Jurnal Pendidikan 11(2), 96–105. https://doi.org/10.33830/jp.v11i2.561.2010

Wong, J., Salili, F., Ho, S.Y., Mak, K.H., Lai, M.K. & Lam, T.H., 2005, ‘The perceptions of adolescents, parents and teachers on the same adolescent health issues’, School Psychology International 26(3), 371–384. https://doi.org/10.1177/0143034305055980

Wulansari, B.Y., 2017, ‘Model pembelajaran berbasis alam sebagai alternatif pengembangan karakter peduli lingkungan’, Jurnal dimensi pendidikan dan pembelajaran 5(2), 95–105.

Crossref Citations

No related citations found.