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.