“Faith Perspectives on Sexual and Gender Based Violence” draws crowd at 59th UN Commission on the Status of Women

Contact: Chris Glass,, (443) 547-0278

New York, NY — On Friday, March 13, the Global, United States and South Africa We Will Speak Out coalitions co-hosted a parallel event, titled “Global Faith Perspectives on SGBV,” at the 59th United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York.

A video of the event can be viewed here, and the panel was live tweeted from the WeWillSpeakOut.US Twitter account using the hashtag #FaithvsSGBV. Read more here.

The presentations highlighted the diverse experiences and perspectives of a survivor, a practitioner, a faith leader and an academic.

During her presentation, Nikki Rineer of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, provided a survivor’s perspective and stated, “It’s how we listen and how we support that can either deepen the wound or provide the ointment that will move us closer to healing.” She also talked about a recent situation in which a pastor groomed young boys for abuse and how it divided the congregation. “In the mishandling of abuse,” she said, “there are no winners.”

Constance Mogina, HIV/AIDS Development Officer for the Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea, brought the unique perspective of a field practitioner working to raise awareness on prevention and intervention for HIV/AIDS and gender based violence. In Papua New Guinea, 67 percent of women are beaten by their husbands, she said. One of the challenges she faces is that services don’t trickle down in rural communities, and government leaders aren’t interested in learning about how to intervene.

Representing a faith leader’s perspective, Bishop Ellinah Wamukoya—Africa’s first female bishop—of the Anglican Church in Swaziland talked about the Church’s role in responding to violence and highlighted key theological points upholding equality for women. In Swaziland, as elsewhere, she said, culture and tradition are used to justify discrimination against women—despite Biblical teaching and legal rights. “Liberation from sexism must be one of the major preoccupations of the church in the 21st century,” she stated. “If the church recognizes that people are made in the image of God, it cannot accept or perpetuate discrimination!”

Kera Street, a third year doctoral student at Harvard Divinity School, provided an academic researcher’s perspective. She said that a new research project at Harvard Divinity School funded by IMA World Health is digging deeper into the “Broken Silence” report with qualitative data. “We hope this research will empower people to actually take action to go out and end sexual and gender based violence,” she said.

The UN Commission on the Status of Women is the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. The CSW is instrumental in promoting women’s rights, documenting the reality of women’s lives throughout the world, and shaping global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women.

We Will Speak Out (WWSO) is a global coalition of Christian-based NGOs, churches and organizations, supported by an alliance of technical partners and individuals who together commit themselves to see the end of sexual violence across communities around the world.

WeWillSpeakOut.US, an outcropping of the global coalition, is a movement of diverse faith groups from across the US joining together with other leaders for action and advocacy to end the silence around sexual and gender based violence (SGBV). WeWillSpeakOut.US is hosted by IMA World Health, a US-based non-profit international health and development organization dedicated to health, healing and well-being for all.