Gender Equality & GBV

Please join us for “16 Days of Activism to End Violence Against Women.” The campaign is aimed at raising awareness and mobilizing action to eliminate violence against women and girls and will run from November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, to December 10, Human Rights Day.

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Gender equality, women's empowerment and gender-based violence (GBV) prevention and response are cross-cutting themes that shape and inform all of Episcopal Relief & Development's integrated programs worldwide. In order to sustainably and equitably address hunger, poverty, disease and post-disaster relief and recovery, local attitudes and customs around gender, power and gender-based violence must also be taken into account.

"Unless women fully enjoy their human rights, to which freedom from violence is inextricably bound, progress toward development will continue to fall short."  USAID  

Gender roles and other social norms impact every area of Episcopal Relief & Development's work, and addressing gender-based violence (GBV) is a major area of focus. GBV affects the health and well-being of women in every country, regardless of socioeconomic or 'development' status, and almost all of our partners identify violence against women and girls as a major obstacle to healthy and prosperous families and communities. There is a great need for the voice and action of faith leaders, communities and institutions to prevent and respond to GBV, and to restore the health, dignity and livelihoods of women and girls affected by violence.

Although GBV is often associated with countries experiencing conflict, it is present everywhere, in various forms such as domestic violence, rape and the marginalization of girls and women across cultures and nations. Stemming from attitudes and practices around gender and power that are deeply ingrained in society and culture, GBV is a sensitive issue and often falls by the wayside of community dialogues and interventions. Change must come from within those communities to be lasting and effective, and faith leaders have a unique position of trust and influence at both the individual and community levels to enable and encourage such change. Our programs aim to empower these leaders and to leverage their roles in their communities to become champions for the support, protection and empowerment of survivors of violence, and of women and girls in general. 

Two of Episcopal Relief & Development's GBV prevention and response projects are:

Ending SGBV in Liberia

Preventing and Responding to Sexual and Gender Based Violence in Liberia: With support from the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women and Girls and Islamic Relief USA, we and our partner, Episcopal Church of Liberia Relief and Development, are implementing an innovative program in Liberia to engage Christian and Muslim leaders and institutions, such as the Inter-Religious Council of Liberia, in GBV prevention and awareness. In Liberia, the root causes of violence against women and girls are embedded in family and community dynamics that were eroded during 14 years of civil conflict and have yet to recover.

 We Will Speak Out

We Will Speak Out: Our organization is also a founding member and the US Secretariat co-chair for the We Will Speak Out (WWSO) Coalition. Recognizing the prevalence of gender-based violence (GBV) in the United States, as well as the potential for American organizations and congregations to influence change, WWSO Steering Committee Member IMA World Health launched WeWillSpeakOut.US to unite and amplify existing voices and programs throughout the US. WWSO stresses in particular the untapped potential of faith communities to prevent and respond to gender-based violence.


Facts on Gender-Based Violence Worldwide:

  • Worldwide, one in five women will become a victim of rape or attempted rape in her lifetime; as many as one in three are beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in their lifetimes.
  • Based on data collected from 24,000 women in ten countries, between 55 and 95% of women who have been physically abused by their partners have never contacted the police, shelters or NGOs for help.
  • Violence kills and disables as many women between the ages of 15 and 44 as cancer. And its toll on women's health surpasses that of traffic accidents and malaria combined.
  • Survivors of sexual assault are 3 times more likely to suffer from depression, 6 times more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol, 26 times more likely to abuse drugs and 4 times more likely to contemplate suicide.
  • An estimated 100 to 140 million girls and women worldwide are survivors of female genital mutilation (FGM).
  • It is estimated that close to 90% of current war casualties are civilians, the majority of whom are women and children, compared to a century ago when 90% of those who lost their lives were military personnel.

Episcopal Relief & Development recognizes that this global epidemic impedes the transformation of just societies, erodes the human assets and strengths of a community, causes severe health problems for women and children and stunts health economic activity.

Our current strategic plan focuses on supporting our church partners to strengthen and improve their efforts by:


Prevention


  • Community education and public awareness on causes and consequences of GBV
  • Training of religious leaders and local leaders, using scripture to support messages that speak against violence
  • Engaging men and boys in dialogue
  • Engaging children and youth through educational activities, sports, cultural activities, etc.
  • Activities to build the agency of women and girls and decrease their vulnerability to violence, including livelihood skills, income generation, formal education, training on rights and leadership skills
  • Community action plans and watch groups

Provision of Services for Survivors


  • Shelters and safe houses
  • Engaging law enforcement on adding or improving procedures for GBV-related cases
  • Ensuring health facilities are equipped to address needs of GBV survivors, including forensic and reproductive health needs
  • Counseling and mediation services
  • Financial support or services for survivors
  • Coordinating service centers and strengthening referral systems
  • Training professionals who may engage with survivors, including judges, police officers, lawyers, social workers, health workers, teachers and media professionals
  • Support of unique needs of special groups (e.g., women with disabilities, sex workers, children)

Prosecution of Perpetrators


  • Effective investigation of allegations and fair judicial proceedings for survivors
  • Adequate training for those involved in prosecution activities

Policy


  • Strengthening legal and judicial responses to GBV
  • Advocacy to ensuring that various forms of GBV are legally defined and enforced, and that laws include preventive, protective and compensatory measures for victims

Providing women with opportunities for social and economic empowerment helps give them a stronger voice in household decision-making and self-confidence that earns them respect in their households and in the wider community. Your donation to our Women's Empowerment Fund supports programs that equip women with support networks, training and resources to make a brighter future for themselves and their families. Our programs engage men, women and youth so that communities can move forward together.