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16 Days is Not Long Enough

Nov 20, 2011 — Categories: , ,

This time last year I was on my way to Capetown, South Africa, to visit my friend, Elizabeth Petersen and the South African Faith and Family Institute (SAFFI). This was my first trip to this massive continent and, like so many people, I immediately fell in love with South Africa.

This time last year I was on my way to Capetown, South Africa, to visit my friend, Elizabeth Petersen and the South African Faith and Family Institute (SAFFI). This was my first trip to this massive continent and, like so many people, I immediately fell in love with South Africa.

For one thing, it was early summer. Having left the dark and dreary early winter in the Pacific Northwest, I delighted in sun and warmth, flowers in bloom, and gorgeous beaches. Capetown, where I spent most of my visit, is simply spectacular. At the southern tip of Africa, it is a vibrant city surrounded by mountains and populated with proud South Africans of every color working to build a new society post-apartheid.

I was invited to participate in the 16 Days of Activism to End Gender Violence, an annual campaign from November 25 to December 10. SAFFI had planned activities with faith communities for almost every day. In addition, there were programs, concerts, marches, and media sponsored by the government and NGO’s; and so I began to get a sense of what the 16 Days of Activism were about.

This was all new to me. I later learned that actually the 16 Days program originated in the U.S. in 1991, but I had not seen U.S. groups using this strategy.  We have Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Teen Dating Violence Month, etc. but nothing that brings the issues of gender violence into stark focus the way the 16 Days Campaign did.

So this year at FaithTrust, we are contributing to the 16 Days Campaign by bringing you the voice of a faith leader each day from November 25 to December 10. We hope that this will give you a sense of the breadth and depth of the work that is going on around the world in faith communities to address violence against women. We join with groups from 164 countries.

SAFFI Launch 3 Women

As I sat with a group of local women activists in a township outside Capetown, I listened to their experiences and ways that they were working in their community to keep women and girls safe from violence. As we talked about the 16 Days Campaign, one of them said, “Well, 16 days is not enough.  We need a 365 Days Campaign.”

Indeed. Everyday should be “End Violence Against Women Day” until our homes, communities, and places of worship are safe for women and girls. But this year, we will focus our prayers, energies and activism on November 25 to December 10 along with our sisters and brothers from around the world. I hope you will join me.

Rev. Dr. Marie M. Fortune
FaithTrust Institute
www.faithtrustinstitute.org

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