“Hope is not the expectation that things will be better tomorrow; hope is the capacity to do the right thing today.” – Mitri Raheb, Lutheran pastor in Bethlehem
The World Day of Prayer movement brings people together in closer fellowship, understanding and action throughout the year.
As we ecumenically prepare the March celebration, we hear about the situations of women and girls around the world, and we realize how close to home those stories are.
We pray with them for the ending of their suffering, we commit to promote awareness, we advocate for women’s human rights, we support the survivors of violence who are among us, and we raise funds to empower them to live in a world without rape and gender based violence.
At our International Meeting, in August 2017, in Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil, we wore black to educate ourselves about the Thursdays in Black campaign and to show our support! The campaign has traveled to the local communities, where we join others involved in the campaign started by the World Council of Churches (WCC).
Thursdays in Black grew out of the WCC Decade of Churches in Solidarity with Women (1988-1998), in which the stories of rape as a weapon of war, abuse, violence, and many tragedies that grow outward from such violence became all the more visible. However, also visible was women’s resilience, agency and personal efforts to resist such violations.*
As Fulata Moyo explained to the WDP community, “in this campaign, black is used as color of resistance. Let us journey together for a world of gender justice and peace.” (WDPIC 2015 Journal, page 51)
The campaign is simple but profound. Wear black on Thursdays. Wear a pin to declare you are part of the global movement resisting attitudes and practices that permit rape and violence. Show your respect for women who are resilient in the face of violence.*
We encourage you to join the Thursdays in Black campaign and to share its message.
Here are some steps that you may want to take:
(*Extracted from Churches’ Advocacy against Sexual, Gender-Based Violence, WCC Thursdays in Black pamphlet.)
Today, Human Rights Day, marks the final day of the 16 Days of Activism against gender based violence campaign but it does not mean our fight is over! We must continuously work beyond the days of these dedicated campaigns and work towards a world free of violence against women and girls. Our WDP sisters from around the world are taking lessons learned from the worship services and applying them to real life situations in order to promote awareness for the betterment of women and children. These following stories were taken from the 2016 & 2017 Journals.
In 2016, WDP Malaysia reflected on the theme “Receive children, Receive me” and thought about the refugee children in their country being denied their rights to an education. They affirmed in their service “that all children should be received equally, regardless of their sex or status, and education is very important for the future of refugee children.”
Similarly, Bulgaria highlighted the difficulties Roma children experience in their country as opposed to other children. Their main concern is to “make education accessible to them so they may have a better future.”
In Latin America this year, Argentina “vowed to work towards defending the rights of women and, above all, to combat gender [based] violence,” and Cuba renewed leadership with young woman engaging in the coordination of WDP and with this they will be able to more actively “promote campaigns for NO violence against children, and will use art to reach out to families in vulnerable situations.”
Panama used the 2017 theme of “Am I Being Unfair to You?” as an opportunity to bring awareness to the injustices faced by many woman. They created a game to show the inequality of wealth distributed and how the minority usually suffers the most. They used chairs to represent possessions and gave “the man” most of the chairs while those without chairs had to stand. It really impacted their service and it shows us how we must work together to fight establishments like this that oppress women and young girls.
As we celebrate this Advent season, we must remember all of the things Jesus has taught us through these WDP worship services. We must listen to Jesus’ words and help each other, not just one day, but every single day until the end of gender based violence.
Nora Carmi, the World Day of Prayer International Committee Regional Representative from Palestine in the Middle East, gives voice to the fight for the elimination of violence against women and girls during the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign.
My name is Nora Carmi. I am a Palestinian from Jerusalem who has worked for over 40 years as a community builder seeking to help and empower society through informing women about their rights and making sure that all conventions, pertaining to women, are not only signed but implemented in full. We can not claim gender equality unless laws protecting women and empowering them are enforced and all forms of violence and discrimination against women in Palestine, the Middle East, and the whole world ends in all aspects of their lives.
From November 25th - the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to December 1th – World Aids Days, and to December 10th – Human Rights Day as declared by the United Nations, communities and faith based organizations will be engaged in the campaign known as 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence. The 2017 theme is “Together We Can End Gender Based Violence in Education!”
We are extending the call to action from the Women’s Concerns Ministry of the National Council of Churches, which leads World Day of Prayer in India, to promote awareness that the education of women and girls are at risk because of gender based violence.
“As a mother, every morning I take the biggest leap of faith when I wave to my child as she leaves for school. The fear that lurks in my heart is: Will anyone touch the body of my child? Will anyone bully her in school? Will she face corporal punishment for not being able to answer? Our roads are not even safe enough to send our daughters and children walking to school,” shared a concerned mother from one of the Women’s Fellowship of Member Churches of the National Council of Churches during the World Day of Prayer event in Delhi while reflecting on the 2016 WDP theme “Receive Children, Receive Me.”
Similar concerns were presented in other countries, like Nigeria where prayer is lifted up in the midst of “poverty and increasing child abuse or trafficking, and the devastating activities of fundamentalist groups like Boko Haram, who kidnapped girls from school in 2014.” Or, Sierra Leone, who vowed to "lobby for children who are rejected, neglected, and often looked over due to disabilities, by promoting their educational rights and also foster children and victims of trafficking.”
At the WDP International Meeting, participants of the group conversation ‘Reaching out to Children’ recognized that around the world children are been trafficked, working to put food on the table, or raising themselves when they lose their parents to war or HIV/Aids.
Ms. Moumita Biswas, Executive Secretary of Women’s Concerns Ministry of the National Council of Churches in India and WDPIC Asia Regional Representative, points out “We need to address gender norms at all levels and across multiple settings to prevent gender based violence in schools and the society at large. Violence towards girls and children begins in their own home. Only publicizing child protection polices in school cannot end violence towards children. Therefore we need to have a multi-dimensional, holistic approach to end gender based violence in education.”
We invite you to build upon these stories and campaigns and advocate for an end to all forms of gender-based violence in education. We should not have to live in fear when our children do something as simple as go to school. We must speak up and together bring awareness to this issue.
Let’s affirm with the 2018 WDP Suriname theme that "All God’s Creation is Good” thus girls and women should live free of violence.