Women of faith resist violence

22 December 2016

RELIGIONS FOR PEACE

Rally for change: the launch of the women of Faith Network for the UK

Rally for change: the launch of the women of Faith Network for the UK

THE Women of Faith Network for the UK, part of the worldwide interfaith network Religions for Peace, are continuing to use religious texts to eliminate violence against women, and to champion female voices across the world, its co-chair, Ravinder Kaur Nijjar, has said.

Women of Faith was launched in Westminster, in March, to raise the profile of religious women, and to push for empowerment and gender equality within communities and families in the UK (News, 18 March). It also sought to raise awareness of violence against women, and to reject the “myth” that this violence was religiously sanctioned.

Since then, its committee had been working to establish the network among faith groups, Ms Nijjar said, and devising new projects to spread its message. Its latest campaign, 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, launched last month, seeks to challenge the various presumptions and “falsities” surrounding violence against women among cultures, religions, and peoples. This includes notions that violence against women is not widespread, or that violence is provoked by the victim.

“The theme of the campaign is ‘From peace in the home to peace in the world: make education safe for all,’” Ms Nijjar said this week. “Only through spiritual values and education can there be peace, first within ourselves, within our homes, and in the world.”

It follows on from the network’s first exhibition, curated by its members for its launch. “The Dignity of Women: Spiritual Reflections” quotes from scripture, and from leaders of the main world religions — Baha’i, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, and Jainism — to illustrate that men and women are considered equal in those faiths.

It has since been displayed by the Hindu and Sikh communities, and by Scottish Women’s Aid. “It is wonderful that so many experienced, dynamic, and prominent women from different religions are supporting this important initiative,” Ms Nijjar said.

“We hope that faith communities will continue to use the exhibition as an educational tool to promote dialogue, challenge misconceptions held regarding violence against women, and have ambassadors of men and boys taking the work forward within their own communities.”

Plans are also in progress to celebrate World Interfaith Harmony Week in February. “Women are the foundation stone of a harmonious society,” Ms Nijjar said. “We are working to harness the spiritual human values of compassion, service, selflessness, humility, and love to transform current and future generations so that we can truly see all human beings as one family.”

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