The event focused on the role of faith-based organizations in addressing SGBV and the lessons learned.

By Gloria Nantulya/IMA World Health

It’s agreed.

Faith plays a pivotal role in addressing sexual and gender-based violence, or SGBV, in communities. Whether it be in the conflict-affected eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo or the pews of a small church in South America, experts from four different international organizations reported similar findings.

“IMA is a faith-based organization,” said Mary Linehan, IMA World Health’s Senior Technical Advisor who was a panelist at the event. “By talking in the same language about culture and religion, it makes people more comfortable and therefore makes the message easier to understand.”

Why, you may ask? It’s likely because more than 8 out of 10 people worldwide identify with a religious group, according to a demographic study of more than 230 countries and territories conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life. Therefore, a central part of messaging and learning comes from religious leaders in the communities they are integrated in.

“Faith remains one of the few variables that has a significant correlation with reduced physical and intimate partner violence,” says Prabu Deepan, gender technical lead at Tearfund. “People’s understanding of scripture plays a huge role in their acceptance of sexual and gender-based violence, so changing scriptural-based reflections on gender is key.”

Deepan was one of four panelists who shared their findings at the Interagency Working Group on Gender Violence event hosted in Washington, D.C.

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