As INERELA+, we are affirming our commitment to human dignity and worth of the human person created in God’s image and infinitely precious in God’s sight, and to the equal rights of women and men of all nations and people. For the year 2021 we identify ourselves with the theme “Orange the World: End Violence Against Women Now!”. “Orange” symbolizes a brighter future free of violence. We note that gender inequality and all forms of Gender Based Violence (GBV) are contrary to Christ’s mission of fullness and abundant life for all people, and we regret that the vice has been “normalized” in society.1 in 3 (35%) of women worldwide have experienced either physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner or non- intimate partner in their lifetime.
In South Africa, that abuse culminates into a woman being killed every 4 hours. Most women killed in South Africa are killed by their partners or ex-partners and many of them suffer months or years of domestic abuse before their deaths. In times of crisis, the numbers rise as seen during the COVID-19 pandemic and humanitarian crisis such as conflicts and climate disasters.
Significant increase in Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV) and domestic violence has been witnessed globally since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. School closures and economic strains left women and girls poorer, out of school, out of jobs, and more vulnerable to exploitation, abuse, forced marriage, and harassment.
Gender inequality continues to be sustained by deeply rooted patriarchal governance structures and settings, discriminatory sex and gender-based stereotypes and norms among other contributing factors. In countries, both rich and poor, gender prejudice has fuelled acts of violence towards women and girls. Violence against women and girls often goes unreported, silenced by stigma, shame, fear of the perpetrators and fear of a justice system that does not work for them.
The human rights of women including the right to security, dignity, equality and justice are core principles of international law. And we know that the leadership and safety of women in all their diversity plays a vital role in economic progress, community welfare, children’s health education, and more. All human life benefits when women’s human rights are upheld, and we all suffer when those rights are abused.
The 16-day activism will also address widespread violation of children’s rights, which the faith leaders say has also been on the rise during the coronavirus pandemic when children are out of school and are confined in homes to minimize the risks of COVID-19.Faith leaders who are our frontline soldiers in fighting gender based violence are optimistic that with faith-driven activities across the continents were we work, change will be realized in gender interactions and that cases of SGBV will go down.
Globally, over 80 percent of the population identifies with a religion. Religion is a powerful force for social and cultural change, particularly in the continent of Africa with cognizance that it can also be instrumentalized for self-serving purposes.
It is the significant influence of religion on the world’s second largest continent that as INERELA+ we strengthen and expand sustained engagement with a range of faith-based actors and change agents to engage in the 16 Days of Activism against SGBV and Child abuse cannot be over-emphasized.
Faith-based actors are important in amplifying voices and safeguarding the ideals of common humanity and inherent dignity of every person. All forms of GBV are a violation of human dignity and God’s image in every human being. They are threats to the value of social relationships and their role in the stability and prosperity of the entire human race.
INERELA+ works to defend human rights by addressing human dignity from an ethical and theological perspective on a day-to-day basis. While pervasive, gender-based violence is not inevitable it can be prevented. INERELA+ transforms lives not only during the 16 Days of Activism but every day. We adopted comprehensive and inclusive approaches that tackle the root causes, transform harmful social norms, and empower women and girls. Our Project priorities include focusing on survivor-centred essential services across policing, justice, health, and social sectors. We provide information to victims’ and survivors as well as collect data that improves life-saving services for women and girls.
MUNYA MANDIPAZA – INERELA+ ACTING EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR