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Before “Yes, We Can” . . .

Jan 05, 2011 — Categories:

Before “Yes, We Can,” there was “WE CAN.” Women Empowered Committed Against Negativity (WE CAN) is an organization whose office is in a house on the outskirts of Cape Town, South Africa. The leader of WE CAN is Loretta Joseph. She is a Roman Catholic laywoman who has organized Catholic and Protestant women outside the church in order to get the work done—i.e. the work of supporting and empowering women in their real lives.

Before “Yes, We Can,” there was “WE CAN.” Women Empowered Committed Against Negativity (WE CAN) is an organization whose office is in a house on the outskirts of Cape Town, South Africa. The leader of WE CAN is Loretta Joseph. She is a Roman Catholic laywoman who has organized Catholic and Protestant women outside the church in order to get the work done—i.e. the work of supporting and empowering women in their real lives. This means addressing violence, reproductive choice, employment skills, parenting skills, etc.

Marie with the WE CAN Women. Look closely at this group.
These grassroots women organized to support each other, and they did it outside the church because the church wasn’t doing the work they needed. Some said to them, “You are a sinner!” Their reply: “I am not a sinner. I just want to have a voice.”

Another group that works with WE CAN is Women on the Move. Someone asked, “Who gave you a mandate?” Their reply: “Nobody gave me a mandate. I just have to do what I must do.”

One woman shared her story of having been abused by her husband. She now lives alone with her children. “That’s not my story anymore,” she said. This is the voice of a survivor.

These women reminded me of the Persistent Widow in Luke 18. As laywomen, they realized that they and other women needed to support each other. And it was up to them to organize the means to do so.

And I say again, if the people of South Africa can end apartheid, surely they can turn the corner on violence against women if they continue to work locally, regionally, nationally and within and without faith communities.

Thanks be to God.

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

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Posted by Diane Darling at Jan 05, 2011 07:06 PM
Marie, thank you for the moving stories of your time in South Africa and the good work you and the Faith Trust Institute continue to do on behalf of so many all around the world!