Today is the UN’s International Day for the Elimination for Violence against Women. For many years, the mandate to place value upon womanhood has been woven within the very fabric and heart of all we do as a church and as a Sisterhood. We believe that every person is worthy of respect and has the right to be safe and live free from coercive control and violence.
Yet value and empowerment are still far from the reality of too many women in our world today.
I penned these words in my book The Sisterhood and I think it’s particularly relevant today:
‘…in an age that boast emancipation and empowerment of women, one doesn’t need to look far to realise that not all women alive “for such a time as this” (Esther 4.4) live with the same opportunities and confidence…There are women on the earth who are correctly loved and cherished, and there are women and girls who are so wrongly despised and abused. A distortion regarding value has plagued our collective existence throughout time and history and has tragically affected many.’
According to the UN, violence against women has escalated to pandemic proportions with one in three women worldwide experiencing gender-based violence and women and girls account for 71 per cent of human trafficking cases across the world. (Un Women 2018)
In our own nation of Australia, one in three women have faced physical violence since the age of 15 (ABS 2017). Domestic and Family Violence (DFV) is a frightening reality for too many.
In recent times, there has been a collective awakening to the injustices facing women and one gets the sense that the tide is shifting. Women all over the world are summoning the courage to speak up, there is recognition that systemic change needs to take place from the highest offices of the land and the world is beginning to take note.
Into this highly-charged local and global dynamic we step as the people of God. With empathy, prayer and thoughtful action, we can all do something to effect positive change.
We partner with incredible organisations who have sought to bring tangible solutions to the issues affecting vulnerable women and also help to drill down into the root causes to prevent violence against women happening in the first place.
Our Colour Sisterhood website has a plethora of information and resources that can help you become more informed about the issues at hand and how you can respond. It may be facilitating a SHINE program for young women, learning about bystander programs to equip yourself and others to prevent, intervene and change community culture regarding DFV. It could be giving to organisations like A21 to raise awareness and prevent human trafficking.
As a local church here in Australia, our CityCare Homes of Peace program is another way in which we provide transitional support for families leaving domestic violence. We also partner with many community organisations and domestic violence shelters to provide the best holistic care to families.
At the end of the day, as people who are our sister’s keepers and as believers who are taught through scripture to love our neighbours as ourselves, we can each be a safe place for someone to open their heart, listen, offer support and shelter, advocate for those whose voices cannot be heard yet and PRAY.
I believe as we do this, we will see the narrative of injustice, exclusion, discrimination and violence that has dominated the landscape of history change to one that empowers all women and all they have been created to be, in Jesus’ name.
Finally, if you or someone you know is at risk, there are numbers and websites listed below where urgent help is available or get in touch with a trusted friend or pastor.
Bobbie and Brian
Links and phone numbers
1800-737-732 (Domestic and Family Violence Hotline)
0808 2000 247 (National Domestic Violence Helpline)
1800-799-7233 (National Domestic Violence Hotline)
0800 150 150 (Stop Gender Violence Hotline)