Article by Terrie Robinson (Side by Side)
Member organisations of the international Side by Side faith movement for gender justice have been getting involved with the annual 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based violence.
The 16 Days, 25 November to 10 December, provide a focus for drawing attention to the continuing realities of gender-based violence in all its forms, and encourage faith leaders and communities to recommit to bringing the gender-just values of faith to our different contexts.
The Church of Sweden, Finn Church Aid, the Lutheran World Federation, Norwegian Church Aid, the Anglican Communion, Restored and the World Council of Churches joined Islamic Relief Worldwide, the World Communion of Reformed Churches, World YWCA, and Mission 21 in a social media campaign to let the world know that because all are precious in God’s eyes, they will not keep silent about sexual violence and gender-based violence. Faith leaders and communities tweeted and posted their pledges #16Days @SBSGender. Christian Aid also ran an #EndGBV social media campaign for the 16 Days.
In a video message, Dr Rowan Williams, Chair of the Christian Aid board, invited faith leaders around the world to pledge to take action to eliminate gender based violence.
The Church of Uganda Planning, Development and Rehabilitation Department, supported by DanChurchAid, took a lead in organising activities for the 16 Days including a Gender Justice Run in Kampala. Watch a video of the run here.
“The 16 Days of Activism are our time to speak out against all forms of violence and gender injustices … it calls for responsibility and respect for human dignity from us all.” Archbishop Stanley Ntagali
The We Will Speak Out faith coalition against sexual and gender-based violence hosted a 16 Days of Activism webinar featuring a panel of speakers, including survivors, on the role of faith communities in responding to the needs and priorities of survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, and building survivor movements that can shape policy and practice.
As part the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Premier’s programme for the 16 Days of Activism, We Will Speak Out South Africa co-hosted ‘Survivors in Solidarity: Tackling the Sticking Points for 365 Days of Effective Action’ along with the Phephisa Survivors Movement. During the event, faith communities and key stakeholders engaged with survivors of sexual and gender based violence with a view to proposing concrete mechanisms for building on current good practices, while addressing gaps in tackling underlying drivers of SGBV.
In Butere, Western Kenya, Orthodox priest Fr Evangelos Thiani chaired a three-day Side by Side Kenya meeting of theologians, clergy and church leaders brought together by the FECCLAHA Secretariat, to discuss matters of gender justice.
Church of Scotland (Kirk) congregations were encouraged to stick posters in their toilets with the numbers of phone helplines for those who are experiencing gender-based violence.
Sonke Gender Justice in South Africa stood in solidarity with the Gugulethu community in the Western Cape where there are high rates of gender-based violence.
Thursdays in Black promoted a list of actions for the 16 Days and for any time in the year, from speaking out about sexual assault and domestic violence from the pulpit, to leading by example by volunteering to serve on the board of directors at the local sexual assault or domestic violence program or train to become a crisis volunteer.
The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence were introduced several years ago by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership at Rutgers University in the USA, and now represent a significant promoter of transformative action.
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