Experts on domestic abuse from across the global Church hosted an online webinar at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) this week. They explored how Christians in many settings are responding to gender-based violence.
A drama about teenage girls in Nigeria, plus insights into peace work in Ethiopia, local church work in Pakistan and a national campaign in the UK helped to build a picture of what is happening on the ground. The latest research on the persecution of women highlighted how domestic violence is a key weapon used against women.
The webinar, Harnessing the Power of the Church to End Domestic Abuse, was organized by the Women’s Commission of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), Open Doors International, the Anglican Communion, Girls Brigade International and Restored UK. It was broadcast live yesterday, and is now available on online channels.
UN Secretary General António Guterres spoke earlier this week about the urgent need to address violence against women. He said it was vital for peace in homes and society that we no longer “minimize or push aside” the terrible impact of the abuse of women and girls. Bp. Dr. Thomas Schirrmacher, Secretary General of the WEA, applauded the UN head for speaking up on this issue. It has become an even bigger problem during the pandemic, as abused women and girls are forced to stay at home longer and are left with no place to go. “Governments should listen to the UN Secretary General’s call and join forces globally to make this evil visible,” he said.
WEA women have been involved in the CSW for a number of years, wanting to be a Christian voice on issues like persecution, trafficking and poverty. Amanda Jackson, Director of the Women’s Commission, says, “We want to show that Christians are active in communities, encouraging and training women. Christian faith is at the heart of the lives of 500 million women and we want to amplify their voices and their amazing work.”
This year one of the themes of the CSW is the elimination of violence against women. Mandy Marshall, who hosted the webinar, is an expert on the causes, impact and solutions to abuse. She says, “Christian churches have not always protected women but there is a fresh sense that the Church has a valuable role to play in releasing women from abuse and the injustice of inequality. We want churches to be equipped to support victims of abuse and to deal with the perpetrators.”
All the speakers at the webinar are part of a new global Christian network on violence against women and girls called CNEDA (Christian Network to End Domestic Abuse). Christian groups on the ground have struggled to respond to the pandemic of domestic abuse linked to COVID: women and men with years of experience in helping victims wanted support and resources. CNEDA was born.
The UN CSW runs online from March 14-28. Each year the formal meetings assess progress on the equality of women and girls in areas like education, jobs, health access and government. The COVID crisis is widely acknowledged to have deeply impacted women – they have more work at home, they are 40% more likely to have lost their jobs, there has been disruption to health services and because families are much more restricted to home, domestic abuse has escalated. Over 85% of victims of domestic abuse are women.
For more information on the CNEDA network, contact Amanda Jackson, [email protected]
The webinar is available to watch at https://youtu.be/FRr144Zu14g.
Download the CNEDA booklet on Biblical Responses to Domestic Abuse at https://www.evoj.org/books-
Download the free e-book “The Oppression of Women: Violence – Exploitation – Poverty” by Christine and Thomas Schirrmacher at https://iirf.eu/journal-books/