On the 24 September 2016 We Will Speak Out had an opportunity to exhibit at the annual Methodist Church of Southern Africa conference which was held at St Georges Hotel in Pretoria.
The conference was attended by 150 delegates. The delegation is made up of church leaders, lay and clergy, from South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique and Swaziland.
We had an opportunity to interact and share information on WWSO_SA with around 80 people who were very interested in joining the coalition. 60 membership forms and Coalition Membership: Policy Document were distributed.
Even though we exhibited for only 5hrs, it was an exciting and good opportunity to interact with the leadership of the church.
CABSA represented We Will Speak Out SA and Thursdays in Black at the “Truth be Told” Conference at Rhema Ministries from the 14 – 17 September 2016.
Various Christian leaders spoke and challenged religious patriarchy and gender based violence (GBV). There between 50 to 60 visitors at the exhibition daily, participants had an opportunity to visit the exhibition before the sessions began and during tea and lunch breaks.
Brochures and pamphlets were shared with the participants, we had resources from all three partners and most of the resources were disseminated. We had participants who completed the forms to join the WWSOSA coalition. Most participants were very much intrigued by resources on Church and GBV, these resources sparked discussions and questions.
I met Mary-Anne who shared her very painful story with me where she was forced to be indoors by her ex-husband and not work or be part of any activities in her community or church. Every time she made a “mistake” she would be locked in a cage for a few hours in another room. Her marriage has been a terrible experience for her and her young son. She took courage to file for divorce and now she is safe but still needs support and counselling for her son also.
There are a lot of local church leaders who were amazed on the amount of information on GBV and on how they can get involved.
Ps Cele from AFM told of many cases from his church that he turned a blind eye on because he didn’t have any clue of how to deal with the situation but now he will have a new approach on how to deal with GBV in his church.
WWSOSA was launched on the 25th of November 2013, by the Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Reverend Thabo Makgoba when he committed the Anglican Communion to break the silence around SGBV in South Africa. There has been a number of activities and events since, but the lack of resources and structures limited the growth of the coalition. A grant from AmplifyChange created an opportunity to formalise the coalition.
Members and interested parties met on the 9th and 10th of March 2016 in Johannesburg for a strategic discussion. At this meeting an Interim Steering Committee was selected to take the process forward. Members were Rev Desmond Lesejane (Sonke Gender Justice), Ms Lyn van Rooyen (CABSA), Pastor Xana McCauly (GEMA & Rhema), Mr Sabelo Mashwama (Hope Africa) and Dr Stephanie Thomas (Zoë Life). Organisational changes led to Rev Bafana Khumalo becoming the representative for Sonke and Ms Delene Mark for Hope Africa.
The Committee has had a number of electronic meetings, shared many, many emails and phone calls, and had an opportunity to meet face-to-face for two days.
In spite of many challenges we can report some progress:
- The interim steering committee developed a draft constitution and governance policy. See below.
- A membership policy and membership application form was developed. (See here)
- Attendance lists and membership information were combined and a database and electonic mailing system developed. You can register for Newsletters here
- An interim coordinator and administrative support is in place to formalise the secretariat and register the coalition with the NPO directorate.
There are a number of events we would like to highlight during the next few weeks. The steering committee would like to present the draft constitution and governance documents to as many members and interested parties as possible for input and suggestions.
Date: Saturday, 17 September 2016 (Last day of the Truth be Told Conference)
Venue: Rhema Randburg – BC3 Room
Western Cape Region
Date: Tuesday, 25th October 2016
Venue: HOPE Africa, 1 Braehead Road Kenilworth, Cape Town
RSVP: Thandeka Mashwama email@example.com
Date: Monday, 3 October
Venue: Zoë-Life, 7 Brendon Lane, Westville, Durban
Time: 11:00 – 13:00
If you can’t attend
In addition to the meetings, the draft documents are available here for input.
Please provide any input by email to Rose Owen firstname.lastname@example.org
Annual General Meeting
Ideally this process should be completed in time for the Annual General Meeting which is provisionally planned for the 25th of November 2016. (Details to follow).
If the coalition accepts the final constitution, the process of registering the Coalition can be started by the interim coordinator.
We Will Speak out South Africa is a faith based Coalition responding to the challenges of sexual and gender based violence; that aims to implement prevention strategies; to advance, protect and advocate for human rights; and to ensure access to support and healing for survivors and their communities.
Membership of WeWill Speak Out South Africa is open to individuals or organisations in South Africa that share the dream of the coalition.
In applying for membership applicants recognise the WWSOSA values, endorse the positions set out in the membership document (below) and commit to play an active role in the Coalition.
You are welcome to fill in the attached membership form and send it to email@example.com
Please join the discussion!
You can register for e-mail communication and newsletters from the WWSOSA coalition here.
Join us on Social Media
CABSA represented We Will Speak Out SA at the 1st South African Conference on Violence, from the 15th to the 17th August 2016 at the Birchwood Hotel and Conference Centre. In addition to materials from We Will Speak Out SA, materials were shared from two Coalition partners: GEMA and CABSA. The Thursdays in Black Campaign was also highlighted.
The conference was exceptionally well-focused on gender based violence. There were between 20 and 25 visitors at the exhibition daily. Participants had an opportunity to visit the exhibition room at tea break and after lunch, so there wasn’t much activity between sessions.
Brochures and pamphlets were shared with the participants. We had participants who completed membership forms to join the coalition; one of them was a representative from the Ethekwini Mayoral office.
Participants were very interested in what Faith Based Organisations are busy with in their communities, because some of the organisations present at the conference have started to work with churches and church leaders. Participants were interested to gather information on activities on sexual violence and gender based violence and how to collaborate with faith based organisations.
There were lots of questions asked.
This was also a good opportunity to interact with other exhibitors and hear what work they are doing.
Together with Lifeline, exhibitors agreed to wear black on Wednesday since the following day was “Thursday in Black”. It made it easier to demonstrate or encourage our visitors about Thursday in Black.
Nomsa Papale from Lifeline and I had conversations on how to reach out to faith communities and what types of programs could be proposed to churches. She found this very encouraging because a lot of people have given up on faith communities. She also appreciated hearing other people’s experiences working with faith communities. She was also impressed on hearing and reading about We Will Speak Out. For her it was not just about being there to represent LifeLine but she has a burden for her faith community. It would be a great achievement for her to see faith leaders in her community working together to combat gender based violence.
Hearing stories from different people about the work they are doing and the impact it has on their communities and churches was motivating. A Muslim lady, who is a psychologist by profession, shared the challenges she faced on starting interfaith projects in Paarl focusing on Gender Based Violence. She faced challenges in also trying to show faith leaders how the project could have an impact if they worked together. She realised that this was a process not a quick fix.
Having a conversations with Doctors Without Borders was also enlightening. Mpho shared about their work with faith communities, she said “I realised that its not an easy task to get faith leaders to work together, it doesn’t matter where you are from and what education level you have. When you want to work in a community you have to have thick skin”.
It is imperative to understand the communities we work in and be inclusive to the faith community.
This was a great opportunity for We Will Speak Out SA to become known and recognised.
The UK launch of an important report on sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) during the recent conflict in Central African Republic (CAR) brought government officials and faith leaders together this week…
FCO Human Rights Minister Baroness Anelay speaks about the urgency of ending violence against women and the importance of the start of 16 days of activism campaign on 25 November 2015. We thank her for mentioning the work of our coalition in her speech and FCO’s continuous support for the work with faith leaders and communities to end SGBV.
Communiqué: outcomes of an international workshop for strengthening the global faith movement for gender justice.
To access the full document, please click here
Pledging to Be Part of the Solution
On 15 July 2015, faith leaders from across the UK gathered at the House of Lords to speak out against domestic abuse. It was the first time that different faith leaders have stood together to acknowledge the problem of domestic abuse within their own faith communities, and to pledge to do something about it.
The first step: a nationwide Faith Leaders’ Declaration on Domestic Abuse endorsed by dozens of prominent UK faith leaders. Above all, the Declaration affirms that domestic abuse is irreconcilable with the teachings of our faiths. It commits faith leaders to addressing domestic abuse and promoting positive action. It also provides a practical definition for identifying domestic abuse in all its forms.
Hosted by Lord McColl of Dulwich and organised by Restored and FaithAction, the July 15th interfaith reception was an incredible opportunity for faith leaders to recognise our unique opportunities for challenging harmful beliefs and seeking an end to domestic abuse in our faith communities. The event featured speeches from Baroness Scotland (former Attorney General), Shahin Ashraf (Muslim Women’s Network UK), and Alastair Redfern (Bishop of Derby). Following the reception, we hope that faith leaders will endorse, circulate, and use the Declaration within their own faith communities.
For the next step of this initiative, Restored is looking for personal stories about how different people and faiths are working to end domestic abuse in the UK. On the 25th of November, we plan to publish these stories and show how effective a faith-based response can be in ending domestic abuse.
If you have any stories on how faith groups are working to end domestic abuse in your community, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
‘Why is this declaration important? Because in all faiths in Britain right now, domestic abuse is being committed unseen and unreported. What this declaration says to perpetrators of domestic violence is that we, as faith leaders, will not tolerate it, nor remain silent about it, but, recognising the unique and positive opportunities we have within our faith communities, will challenge abusive patterns of behaviour, whether physical, sexual, psychological or spiritual, that have become too common within our faiths and wider society.’
– Peter Grant, co-director of Restored
‘There are a number of misconceptions regarding domestic abuse and religion in our society. It is the duty of religious teachers to provide clarity and guidance on this issue as well as repel any incorrect beliefs and perceptions people may have about this growing problem.’
– Abdullah Hasan, Chief Imam at Holborn Mosque
‘Domestic abuse affects men and women of all faiths and backgrounds, and its impact can be felt across the generations. An estimated 1.4m women and 700,000 men were victims of abuse last year according to the ONS. There is much that faith institutions can do to challenge such behaviour and break that cycle of abuse. This declaration is a good first step in acknowledging that the problem exists and that all people of faith have an active role to play in changing society for the better.’
– Jasvir Singh, Chair of City Sikhs
‘Violence against women is a human problem, not a specifically religious one. But faith leaders have the potential to be part of the problem or part of the solution. In signing this charter we are pledging to be part of the solution.’
– Andrew Watson, Bishop of Guildford
Read the Restored press release: link
Read the inter faith declaration on ending sexual violence in conflict: On February 9th and 10th with the leadership of Rt. MP. William Hague and Ms. Angelina Jolie-Pitt joined by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Foreign Office Minister Baroness Anelay in collaboration with the WWSO, supported by FCO-UK faith leaders from around the world came together in London to tackle sexual violence in conflict and the role of faith leaders and communities in ending SV globally.
Read more: Inter Faith Event 2015