On Friday, March 13, the Global, United States and South Africa We Will Speak Out coalitions co-hosted a parallel event, titled “Global Faith Perspectives on SGBV,” at the 59th United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York.
The presentations highlighted the diverse experiences and perspectives of a survivor, a practitioner, a faith leader and an academic.
During her presentation, Nikki Rineer of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, provided a survivor’s perspective and stated, “It’s how we listen and how we support that can either deepen the wound or provide the ointment that will move us closer to healing.” She also talked about a recent situation in which a pastor groomed young boys for abuse and how it divided the congregation. “In the mishandling of abuse,” she said, “there are no winners.”
Constance Mogina, HIV/AIDS Development Officer for the Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea, brought the unique perspective of a field practitioner working to raise awareness on prevention and intervention for HIV/AIDS and gender based violence. In Papua New Guinea, 67 percent of women are beaten by their husbands, she said. One of the challenges she faces is that services don’t trickle down in rural communities, and government leaders aren’t interested in learning about how to intervene.
Representing a faith leader’s perspective, Bishop Ellinah Wamukoya—Africa’s first female bishop—of the Anglican Church in Swaziland talked about the Church’s role in responding to violence and highlighted key theological points upholding equality for women. In Swaziland, as elsewhere, she said, culture and tradition are used to justify discrimination against women—despite Biblical teaching and legal rights. “Liberation from sexism must be one of the major preoccupations of the church in the 21st century,” she stated. “If the church recognizes that people are made in the image of God, it cannot accept or perpetuate discrimination!”
Kera Street, a third year doctoral student at Harvard Divinity School, provided an academic researcher’s perspective. She said that a new research project at Harvard Divinity School funded by IMA World Health is digging deeper into the “Broken Silence” report with qualitative data. “We hope this research will empower people to actually take action to go out and end sexual and gender based violence,” she said.
The UN Commission on the Status of Women is the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. The CSW is instrumental in promoting women’s rights, documenting the reality of women’s lives throughout the world, and shaping global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women.
Read more about the event.
- The Anglican Communion and the Anglican Alliance are founding member organisations of the global We Will Speak Out coalition. The coalition brings together Christian-based NGOs, churches and organizations, supported by technical partners and individuals, committed to ending sexual violence in communities around the world.
- Constance Mogina is HIV/AIDS Development Officer for the Diocese of Dogura in the Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea under the AusAID-funded Church Partnership Program. In this role, she raises awareness and promotes prevention, care and support, and intervention for HIV/AIDS and gender-based violence.