Engaging Faith Leaders in Ending Gender-Based Violence
Faith Leaders discuss how they can end GBV in their communities.

Engaging Faith Leaders in Ending Gender-Based Violence

In April, SWAGAA joined forces with the Men Engage Network– Swaziland to host a four-day workshop with faith leaders from across the country. The goal was to sensitizes them on issues of gender norms and stereotypes, gender-based violence and child sexual abuse in eSwatini. At the same time, we wanted to provide faith leaders with the tools needed to help prevent and respond to these issues in their home communities.

The objectives of the workshop were to:

  • Build and strengthen understanding among faith leaders on gender and how to mainstream these issues into their daily sermons.
  • Transform mindsets on all gender norms and stereotypes.
  • Share experiences and opinions and enrich approaches on existing gender transformative programming in the church, prioritizing those targeting men and boys. 
  • Capacitate faith leaders on issues of parenting and men’s roles in family life so they can spread this concept within their congregation.
  • Equip faith leaders with counselling skills so they may be able to assist survivors of gender-based violence and child sexual abuse and make proper referrals.

Faith leaders – including Pastors, Priests, Reverends and community advocates – are important allies in our effort to eradicate gender-based violence and transform our country into a prosperous and peaceful place. In order to succeed in our goal of achieving gender equality, SWAGAA and the Men Engage Network – Swaziland understands that engaging and partnering with faith leaders, who are often seen as opinion-holders and change-agents in the daily lives of many Swazis, is absolutely vital.

Following the workshop, we interviewed two of the faith leaders to share their experiences with us and what they learned.

“I’ve learned that you can be able to curb the issues of violence, the issues of abuse and a lot of other issues that are actually clogging our communities. We as a church have all the tools and the mandate to do it.”

Pastor Annah Ngwenya from the Sword and Spirit Church in Siphofaneni was keen to learn techniques and strategies necessary to effectively counsel community members who have encountered abuse or violence. Reflecting on this part of the session, Pastor Ngwenya said “I need to be more organized and more sensitive in everything that I do, more especially when it touches another person.”

She plans to take what she has learned back to her community, unafraid to have tough conversations with community members about gender stereotypes, gender-based violence and child sexual abuse.

“I’ve learned that you can be able to curb the issues of violence, the issues of abuse and a lot of other issues that are actually clogging our communities. We as a church have all the tools and the mandate to do it.”

Pastor Annah Ngwenya shares her experience with us after she attended the four-day long workshop. 

Pastor Goodwill from Worship Embassy International Church found the workshop to be an “eyeopener” and particularly appreciated the session that discussed parenting, how men must be positively involved in family life and how we can raise our children with their best futures in mind. He also plans to take what he has learned back to his church and hopes to sensitize his community on gender-based violence and sexual abuse and ensure that he shows community members how important it is to report cases of abuse.

Pastor Goodwill talks with us about what he learned during the four-day long workshop

What's next?

SWAGAA and Men Engage – Swaziland will be hosting regional workshops with faith leaders throughout eSwatini starting in June 2018.

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