“Dismantling Patriarchy” Goes to the Parliament of the World’s Religions


A Buddhist priest, a rabbi, a Lutheran pastor, a Sufi practitioner, and a Hindu activist walk into the Parliament of the World’s Religions. And that is no joke! We are five women from five religions who are committed to making the world a better place for women and girls. And we will present a workshop at the Parliament entitled “Dismantling Patriarchy in the World’s Religions”.

The Parliament is an online only event this year – which is sad because it’s such a wonderful experience of being with people from all over the world and from an awe-some array of religious traditions. But it’s also a blessing because we don’t have the expense of airfare, hotels, etc. And as we’ve learned from Zoom Church this past year+, it is possible to have a meaningful gathering online.

Here are our fabulous presenters:

Sridevi Ramanathan Headshot

Sridevi Ramanathan presented on Hindu Goddesses at the 2015 Parliament of World Religions as part of the panel, “Diverse Voices of Women’s Spirituality.” She has also presented at the Association of the Study of Women and Mythology and Faith and Feminism conferences. She continues to participate in various interfaith events as a speaker, dancer and artist. 

For years, Sridevi has actively participated in programs and events that give power to girls and women including, “One Billion Rising” and “Take Back the Night.” She founded “Story Digs” through which she conducts talks and workshops based on her scholarly research of mythology and folklore. Sridevi is a founder and facilitator of the “Diversity Circle” at the Oakland Center for Spiritual Living. In addition, Sridevi is one of the women profiled in the book, “Birthing God: Women’s Experiences of the Divine.” 


Rev. Elaine Donlin  is an ordained Jodo-Shinshu Buddhist priest and serves as BCSF Minister Assistant at Buddhist Church of San Francisco. She leads an innovative monthly Metta Gathering in Shin temples in San Francisco, Mill Valley and Sebastopol, CA. Elaine has been teaching the Essentials of Buddhism course since 2008 and helps guide the temple in social justice endeavors within the larger San Francisco community.

She serves as Buddhist Community Clergy for several SF Hospitals and  provides weekly Meditation and Buddhist teachings in the SF County Jails. She is a current Board member on the San Francisco Interfaith Council and is also a founding member of the BCSF LGBTQ+ group.


Leili First, Ph.D., a student of Uwaiysi Sufism, is a long-time member of the International Association of Sufism and Sufi Women Organization.

She has given lectures on Sufism at colleges and universities and has been a presenter at the Annual Sufism Symposium in San Rafael, CA and at the Parliament of the World’s Religions.

Leili is a member of the program committee of the Building Bridges of Understanding series, a cooperative program between the IAS and Dominican University of California. She has published articles in the internationally-distributed journal, “Sufism: An Inquiry”. She has served on the Marin Interfaith Council, and as an SWO representative at the United Nations meeting of NGOs.

She holds a Ph.D. in Transformative Studies.


Mychal Copeland is the rabbi at Congregation Sha’ar Zahav, a Jewish, LGBTQI-normative community in San Francisco. She was previously the Bay Area Director of InterfaithFamily (now 18Doors), and served for thirteen years as a university Rabbi, first at UCLA and later at Hillel at Stanford University.  Her book, Struggling in Good Faith: LGBTQI Inclusion from 13 American Religious Perspectives (SkyLight Paths, November 2015), grew out of her campus work.  

In 1995, she earned a Masters in Theological Studies and Secondary Teaching Credential from Harvard Divinity School, and a rabbinical degree from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 2000. Mychal is the founder of a national Rosh Hodesh (new moon) project for teens, It’s a Girl Thing, that celebrates the monthly lunar cycle and strengthens teen girls’ self-esteem and spirituality with over 100 groups around the country. She co-wrote “Gender and Bible Studies” for the volume, Gender Stratification: Social Construction and Structural Accounts (Ed.Dana Vannoy, Roxbury Press, 2001). Mychal is a certified yoga instructor and fuses Jewish spirituality with movement in her yoga teaching. Her first children’s book is I Am the Tree of Life: My Jewish Yoga Book (Apples & Honey Press, m2020). Mychal is passionate about opening the doors of Judaism wider and leading people towards a profound spiritual and religious life that embraces all of their disparate identities.


And me: I am a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), serving a congregation in Burlingame, CA. I have been involved in interfaith activities both in Western New York and California. I served on the board of the Interfaith Center at the Presidio in San FranciscoIn and as the interim executive director. In 2005 I received my Doctor of Ministry degree from Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley. My special interest is intra-faith issues. My book, published in 2015, is “The INTRAfaith Conversation: How Do We Talk among Ourselves about INTERfaith Matters?” My website is https://intrafaithconversation.com.

I presented workshops at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in 2015 and 2018. I am also one of the women profiled in the book, “Birthing God: Women’s Experiences of the Divine.” 

We all We hope you’ll register for the Parliament and join in the ongoing conversation that we plan to continue until we dismantle the religious foundations of patriarchy!


“Australia II_IWD 2019” by Friends of the Earth International is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0  

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