One of the key pillars of the shared We Will Speak Out strategy is to mobilise church leaders to speak out, and to consider ways to make their churches safe spaces for survivors of SGBV. Sonke Gender Justice opened a safe and powerful space for gender activists, survivors, youth leaders and church leaders to come together and grapple with questions related to the church’s responsibility in the light of the increasingly common and cruel, both amongst churches and in wider society. Rafael Cazarin of Sonke reports on this workshop, below:
In June 2017, the Social and Structural Drivers (SSD) Portfolio of Sonke Gender Justice facilitated a five-day workshop on sexual and gender based violence with faith leaders from Kwazulu-Natal, supported by Amplify Change, Tear Fund and the We Will Speak out Coalition. Sonke’s team was comprised by SGBV activists and experts Bafana Khumalo, Vusi Cebekhulu, Mpho Mabhena and Rafael Cazarin. Representatives from faith communities came from both rural and urban areas, across various Christian denominations, both women and men.
Throughout the week, participants and facilitators engaged in group discussions and thematic sessions on the socio-cultural construction of gender in relation to emotions, sexuality, media, and the LGBTIQA perspective. In particular, gender sensitive bible studies were held through interactive reflections on biblical passages and their socio-cultural contexts. The workshop concluded with the joint development of action plans by participants to be implemented in their faith communities in the following months. To perform these plans, the We Will Speak Out Coalition will help to articulate networks of support amongst those faith leaders committed to gender justice.