16 Days of Activism Toolkit
Call to Action
The 16 Days of Activism begins on November 25, the International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women and Ends on December 10th, Human Rights Day. We encourage you to use this resource alongside your parish, school, or other community as you celebrate the 16 Days of Activism.
How to Use this Toolkit
This toolkit is intended to inspire faith-based action and prolonged reflection on ending gender-based violence. We have divided the toolkit into 16 Actions, parallel to the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence. Each action starts with a relevant scripture or quote, followed by a fact sheet, an action step and a reflection. Consider writing down your reflections for deepened learning and engagement. We encourage you to use this resource alongside your parish, school, or other community as you celebrate the 16 Days of Activism, however this toolkit’s application and the work to end gender-based violence extends to 365 days.
This toolkit includes resources, factual accounts and narratives around themes of physical and sexual violence and other forms of gender-based discrimination. This content may be difficult for some. We encourage you always to care for your safety and well-being.
Josephine Hicks, Vice President, Episcopal Church Programs
“Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being? I will, with God’s help.” This portion of the Baptismal Covenant reflects a driving principle behind all of Episcopal Relief & Development’s work. In everything we do, we seek to respect the dignity of every human being. Respecting the dignity of every human being includes eliminating barriers to growth and development. For women and children, those barriers can include unequal access to economic resources and decision-making. Worse, women and children too often suffer from violence. Violence has a devastating impact not only on the women who are direct victims of violence, but also one for families and communities. It also contributes to cycles of poverty. By contrast, preventing violence, promoting equal access to economic opportunities and decision-making, and cultivating women as leaders helps women thrive and become productive contributors to their communities and economies.This toolkit will help you and your congregation learn more about these important issues and Episcopal Relief & Development’s transformative work in this area.
Tammi Mott, Vice President, International Program Operations
At Episcopal Relief & Development, we and our partners around the world share a vision for the work we do. It is a vision of community where all people — regardless of age, sex, gender or gender identity — live together in abundant dignity, trust, hope and love. This vision springs from our faith in the goodness of creation and our belief that every being is created equally in God’s image. This vision is sustained by our deep commitment to our work. As demonstrated throughout the stories and resource links in this toolkit, both hope-filled and transformational in helping women and girls to rise-up empowered and resilient. Be it for 16 or 365 days, I invite you to join with us and our global partners as we journey toward this vision. I lift up to you this toolkit and the opportunities it provides to learn more, pray more and do more, so that, by our working, together gender-based violence may truly be no more.
The Rev. Pascual Torres, co-founder and Executive Director, Siempre Unidos
“There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28). Siempre Unidos is a faith-based organization committed to the eradication of gender-based violence (GBV) and all other forms of violence and discrimination. We welcome the initiative launched by Episcopal Relief & Development, 16 Days of Activism against GBV, by sharing stories, reflecting together, praying and acting. For those who accept the invitation, the agency provides a toolbox kit for the journey that will empower each participant to give an effective response and, to step firmly into the fight to eradicate a form of violence so subtle that it masks itself as culturally correct, socially accepted, harmless and sometimes even funny. The material in this toolkit reflects its roots and connection with the Baptismal Covenant of the Episcopal Church as it is written in its Book of Common Prayer: “Will you persevere in resisting evil… Will you seek to serve Christ in all persons… Will you strive for justice… and respect the dignity of every human being?” it asks. And the people respond, “I will with God´s help. Amen.”
Introduction: Chiseche Salome Mibenge, Director, Gender Initiatives
Episcopal Relief & Development’s work with local community members, faith leaders and other partners globally focuses on attaining gender equity, balancing structures of power in societies and encouraging shared decision-making in household and other roles. The organization helps ensure that women’s rights are recognized and protected, working with partners to define specific actions to address discrimination, gender-based violence (GBV) and other forms of abuse in their context.
Partners bring impressive innovation and energy to promoting women’s rights. For example, in a rural community in Liberia, young female athletes gathered for a soccer tournament. They wore their team colors proudly, and they had two goals: to win the game and to raise awareness of youth-led activism to eliminate violence against girls in Liberia’s schools.
The players had undergone hours of coaching as well as years of training and learning about the rights of women and the realities of GBV. Their training was facilitated by the Episcopal Church of Liberia – Relief & Development (ECL-RD), the humanitarian arm of Liberia’s Episcopal Church and a long-term partner of Episcopal Relief & Development. Episcopal Relief & Development works with ECL-RD and its networks to encourage and train faith leaders to speak out against violence and to change cultural norms in their communities that create an environment that enables violence. Uniting for change at the soccer tournament, a focal point for fun and for raising awareness, was just one activity Christian and Muslim youth leaders in Liberia carried out across 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence (the 16 Days of Activism).
The Center for Women’s Global Leadership at Rutgers University in New Jersey started the 16 Days of Activism in 1991 to amplify feminist voices and bridge women’s movements globally in order to secure women’s rights. The campaign runs each year from November 25 (International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) until December 10 (World Human Rights Day). These dates were chosen specifically to reinforce the message and global understanding that GBV is a violation of human rights. Each year, millions of people unite across the globe during these days to raise awareness and initiate discussions in their communities, challenge discriminatory attitudes and fight for a world free of violence against women and girls.
Annually, Episcopal Relief & Development’s partners in countries such as Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia, Liberia, Brazil and Honduras to mobilize community activists at local and national levels to engage in 16 Days of Activism. Liberian youth faith leaders sponsored by ECL-RD have protested against violence using theater, music, and soccer; sex workers in Honduras, accompanied by The Episcopal Church’s health ministry, marched through a red-light district and raised awareness about the right to live free from violence; and women in the Anglican Diocese of Muyinga, Burundi, marched with the bishop, and used drama, dance, song and dialogue to raise awareness of GBV and promote women’s empowerment.
Episcopal Relief & Development has published a toolkit for the 16 Days of Activism. The toolkit’s objectives are:
- to encourage all its networks to join in this global effort;
- to raise awareness of GBV and the work being done to address it; and
- to amplify the voices and prayers of all working together for gender equity and the empowerment of the most vulnerable women in their communities, such as women with disabilities, and incarcerated women.
Gender based violence (GBV) is violence directed against people because of their sex, gender, gender identity and expression, or is violence that disproportionately affects people of a particular gender. Intimate-partner violence is the most pervasive form of GBV worldwide; almost one-third (30%) of women who have been in a relationship report experiencing some form of physical and/or sexual violence by their intimate partner in their lifetime. GBV reinforces stereotypes and inequalities in society, and it disproportionately affects women and girls.
The subordination of women’s rights all over the world is sustained by harmful social, cultural and religious attitudes and practices and, in some cases, is encoded in law and policy. GBV occurs in various forms such as domestic violence, sexual assault, forced sterilization, child marriage, revenge porn and cyber-stalking. It commonly is categorized into five central inter-related forms:
- Physical violence
- Psychological violence
- Sexual violence
- Socio-economic violence
- Spiritual violence
Spiritual abuse is described as coercion and control of one individual by another in a faith context that can occur within faith communities. This abuse may include: misuse of Scripture or the pulpit to control behavior; excusing violent behavior; requiring submission to abuse; and reinforcing male privilege, for example by suggesting that the abuser has a divine position or that victims’ endurance of abuse is Christ-like.
On November 25, 2013, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, the former presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, stated:
Our churches must accept responsibility for our own part in perpetuating oppressive attitudes towards women. In penitence and faith, we must move forward in such a way that our churches truly become a living witness to our belief that both women and men are made in the image of God.
As Christians, we believe that God created all humans equally, in God’s image, and that all are worthy of dignity, adequate resources and to be in loving, liberating and life-giving relationship with God, one another and God’s creation. Our Scriptures, Jesus’ Way of Love and our Baptismal Covenant call us to love one another and to seek and serve Christ in all persons. GBV, however, continues to be an obstacle to that vision for equality, development and peace. The promise of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – to leave no one behind – also cannot be fulfilled without putting an end to GBV.
Faith leaders have a unique position of trust and influence at both the individual and community levels to claim and nurture this vision, acting as catalytic agents of change. Ultimately, change must occur within our own hearts, homes and communities to be lasting and effective. These are all areas in which faith leaders are actively engaged.
 Restored, A Handbook for Female Christian Survivors of Domestic Abuse (2019) www.restoredrelationships.org
The Episcopal Church has passed various Resolutions calling for a faith-based response to gender-based violence (GBV). In 2012, the Church resolved that parishes and dioceses be encouraged to participate in annual awareness campaigns about gender violence; and, in 2015, it noted that it deeply regretted the lack of progress in stemming the global pandemic of violence against women and requested that its clergy and congregations speak out to transform the unjust silence of society in the face of this widespread practice of violence. This toolkit provides a framework for users to join a global faith-based movement against GBV, to pray, act and learn together.
Episcopal Relief & Development’s work engages community and faith leaders to take action and speak out against violence around the world. Our programs play a pivotal role in creating interfaith networks in many countries that provide tools, skills and support for leaders to challenge the attitudes and behaviors that perpetuate injustice and discrimination. This toolkit draws heavily from the learnings from this work.
The toolkit is a set of resources specifically to help guide people of faith through the 16 Days of Activism and beyond, to a 365-day commitment to restoring dignity to individuals, families and communities everywhere. The toolkit will remain accessible as a usable and valuable resource all year round.
We encourage users with a social media account such as Twitter to share Scripture and facts and to pray for all those facing GVB as well as those actively engaged in ministries to combat it. The toolkit contains resources for faith and community-based action. Users also can share how they are using these resources @EpiscopalRelief #16DaysofActivism
This toolkit inspires prolonged reflection rooted in faith. It provides users with Scripture that can reinforce our belief in the inherent and equal dignity of all God’s children as made in God’s image, and it centers responses to survivors of GBV in our faith.
All of the reflections and actions contained within the toolkit can be completed alone. However, groups, such as youth and women’s ministries, and collective prayer groups, are encouraged to consider using them as a group.
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, in his statement to the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women, spoke about the disproportionate suffering of women: women of color; women of African descent; indigenous women; women with disabilities; women experiencing discrimination for their ethnicity, race, caste, descent, language, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity/expression; migrant, refugee, internally displaced, undocumented or stateless women; enslaved, trafficked or incarcerated women; rural women; women experiencing poverty; unemployed women; women whose work is considered immoral, illegal or unacceptable; older and aging women; widows; and women who are heads of households.
Systems and structures that oppress women based on their gender and other intersecting and marginalized identities can dramatically heighten vulnerability to GBV, the presiding bishop noted.
In response, the toolkit includes facts about violence experienced by some of the most vulnerable women globally. It provides sobering facts about GBV to raise awareness of the extent to which it occurs globally. It also highlights responses and preventative measures led primarily by faith communities. The toolkit contains resources for faith-based action that are supported by evidence of impact and/or are recognized as best practice.
We have divided the toolkit into 16 Actions, parallel to the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, but we encourage the user to regard the toolkit as a living document that can be referred to and utilized for all 365 days of the year.
 Written statement submitted by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry at the 63rd session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (2019)