The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby is urging Christians to “stand up and speak out for justice and dignity for all” in support of a Mothers’ Union campaign against gender-based violence. The Mothers’ Union (MU), a cutting-edge global Anglican mission agency, is taking part in the annual international 16-Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, which runs from International women’s Day on 25 November and runs through to Human Rights Day on 10 December. As part of it, the MU is asking people all over the world to take part in a symbolic “Global Moment” on 26 November.
“One of the most important things that churches and communities of faith can do is to stand up and speak out for justice and dignity for all,” Archbishop Justin said in support of the campaign. “Gender-based violence has blighted societies from the earliest times, and continues to be one of the greatest injustices in the world today.
“No society is immune to it, and all too often, women and girls, against whom acts of violence or abuse have been committed, are unable to speak out because of stigma placed on them.
“Mothers’ Union has one of the widest and most effective reaches across communities, seeking to share the Gospel of reconciliation and transform the world in which we live. Together in the power of the Spirit, we can break the power of silence.”
This year’s campaign focuses on combatting the stigma surrounding gender-based violence (GBV) by breaking the power of silence, lifting the shame placed on survivors and shifting the blame for the abuse from victim to perpetrator.
“Stigma around GBV can take many forms and be multifaceted,” the MU said in a statement. “In some areas, women who have been raped as part of violent conflict or war are shunned by their families and husbands. Some women and girls who have been victims of human trafficking, particularly for sexual exploitation, are then rejected by their families and communities and not allowed to return home, even if they do manage to escape their captors.”
The MU is asking people to take part in a symbolic Global Moment at any time of the day on 26 November – or at any point during the 16-days. The symbolic act calls people to link hands with one another to represent unity in ending GBV; reach out hands to represent connection with those around the world affected by, or campaigning against GBV; before lifting hands up as a sign of prayer for an end to GBV.
“The 16 Days Against Gender-Based Violence campaign is one our most important campaigns of the year,” the MU’s chief executive Bev Jullien said. “Violence against women and girls does not respect borders. Members in all of our 83 countries around the world engage in various ways from marching on the streets, to holding prayer vigils, donating to women’s refuges or writing to politicians calling for them to take action to combat GBV.”
The statistics on gender-based violence are staggering: at least one in three women globally will experience some form of gender based violence at some point in her lifetime. Globally, women between the ages of 15-44 are more likely to be maimed or die as a result of male violence than through cancer, malaria, traffic accidents or war combined. In England and Wales seven women a month are killed by a current or former partner.
To help generate further awareness, the Mothers’ Union asks those taking part in the Global Moment on 26 November to share details on social media, using the hashtags #letstalkaboutit, #mu16days, #endstigma, and #endgbv with the Mothers’ Union Twitter handle @mothersunion.
- Click here for a range of Mothers’ Union resources related to the 16-Days.