Welcome to Pacific Conference of Churches   Click to listen highlighted text! Welcome to Pacific Conference of Churches

A PARTNERSHIP between UN Women and the Pacific Conference of Churches will address the regional epidemic of gender-based violence.

The project will include a regional mapping of faith-based responses to Violence Against Women and Children, gender equality and child protection as well as development and implementation of a Safe Church Policies and Codes of Conduct in member churches.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, PCC Moderator Deaconess Tamalesi Makutu said under the partnership regional Break the Silence Sunday Campaign would help churches to engage regional and national leadership on the issue of violence against women and girls and to deliver strong messages to faith communities on the necessity of education, attention and response to this issue.

“There will also be a specific focus on increasing the participation and access of women in Church leadership and theology and on the role of Church Leaders as advocates,” she said.

“As Churches, we have confessed our negative contribution to the structural violence enacted upon women of all age and social status in the Pacific. Patriarchal structures of leadership and decision-making, biblical interpretation and attitudes towards women in faith communities have underpinned the psychological, emotional, physical, sexual and economic violence that Pacific women have had to endure.

“We have and continue to painfully acknowledge the abuses of power and trust experienced by women and children in our Pacific Churches, and that there are places where the gospel of love, inclusion, preference for the least among us in, society and of peace and abundant life for all is preached and held out as the ideal but not practice.”

Here is Deaconess Makutu’s speech:

Pacific Partnership to End Violence Against Women & Girls “Just and Safe Pacific Communities of Women and Men”

Remarks by Deaconess Tamalesi Makutu, Deputy Moderator of the Pacific Conference of Churches at the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Suva.

Our host, the Deputy Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Dr. Filimon Manoni; the Representative, UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office, Ms.

Sandra Bernklau, church leaders, and colleagues in the work to end violence against women and girls.

Today many of us are wearing black as part of the Thursdays in Black campaign. This Thursdays in black has been a practice for many women’s groups and human rights defenders to stand in solidarity against domestic violence and rape.

While its roots lie in groups such as Mothers of the Disappeared in Argentina who in the 1970s began wearing black sashes in the Plaza de Mayo as a silent protest of their friends and family members who were disappearing, being raped, and abused under the military dictatorship – the global campaign as we know it today was an initiative of the World Council of Churches and promoted in the Pacific by the Young Womens Christian Association (YWCA) over 30 years ago during the Ecumenical Decade of Churches in Solidarity with Women and revived during the WCCs Decade to Overcome Violence at the beginning of this century.

I mention this to highlight the role, sometimes unrecognised, of Churches in work to end violence against women and children, globally and in the Pacific.

The partnership launched today, is significant in that it is a recognition of the importance of faith communities, in a region where over 90 percent of the population identify as Christian and hold a worldview shaped by their faith, as agents of social transformation, and in particular, not just as target audiences of secular programmes on addressing Gender Based Violence, but as partners in a common vision of safe and peaceful communities and homes.

As Churches, we have confessed our negative contribution to the structural violence enacted upon women of all age and social status in the Pacific. Patriarchal structures of leadership and decision-making, biblical interpretation and attitudes towards women in faith communities have underpinned the psychological, emotional, physical, sexual and economic violence that Pacific women have had to endure.

We have and continue to painfully acknowledge the abuses of power and trust experienced by women and children in our Pacific Churches, and that there are places where the gospel of love, inclusion, preference for the least among us in, society and of peace and abundant life for all is preached and held out as the ideal but not practice.

In its 11th General Assembly in 2018 the member churches and national councils of churches which make up the Pacific Conference of Churches reaffirmed their condemnation all forms of violence against women and children as a sin and called on the Christian community in the Pacific to ensure that the dignity of our women and children is protected at all times.

I acknowledge the presence of Fiji-based church leaders each of whom have been part of campaigns to name violence against women and children as “A Sin” and that our faith “Says No to Rape and Violence Against Women and Children.”

The 2018 PCC Assembly also reaffirmed the need for equitable representation of women in church leadership.

This commitment to women in leadership has been demonstrated by that fact that PCC has already had two (2)  women General Secretaries and its constitution ensures that either the Moderator or Deputy Moderator must be a woman. The challenge now is to bring this into national and local church leadership.

The partnership with UNWomen which is being launched today as the Just and Safe Communities of Pacific Women and Men programme is part of the Pacific Conference of Churches’ 2020 to 2024 Strategic Plan, which specifically focuses on rolling out a regional faith-based model and approach to advance primary prevention work and institutional change to Eliminating Violence Against Women and Girls at national and regional levels across the region.

This includes a regional mapping of faith-based responses to Violence Against Women and Children, gender equality and child protection.

It will also establish systems for Member Churches to monitor and report on performance of their commitments through such mechanisms such as Gender Report Card for 31 Member Churches.

The programme will support the development and implementation of a Safe Church Policies and Codes of Conduct in member churches.

Critical to this will be strengthening the capacity of PCC and Member Churches to increase scale up of positive practices to End Violence Against Women and Girls.

This includes the roll out of a regional Break the Silence Sunday Campaign to engage regional and national Church leadership on the issue of VAWG and to deliver strong messages to faith communities on the necessity of education, attention and response to this issue. There will also be a specific focus on increasing the participation and access of women in Church leadership and theology and on the role of Church Leaders as advocates.

I acknowledge the leadership of the Anglican Diocese of Polynesia’s House of Sarah in the Break the Silence Sunday Campaign and those PCC Member churches that have begun implementing Gender Equality Theology workshops among their leadership and congregations through their partnership with Uniting World.

In terms of this historic partnership, the Pacific Conference of Churches would like to acknowledge the efforts made by UNWomen to engage in a co-creative process to develop this programme with us. The beyond the funding and technical support, design of this project itself is an example of the equitable partnership churches of the Pacific wish to engage in with. It has avoided the dictatorial-donor mentality which imposes its own, often purely secular, agenda, and embraced Pacific partnership in its truest sense.

Vinaka vakalevu UN Women.

I would also like to acknowledge the other members of the Pacific Partnership to End Violence Against Women and Girls and affirm PCC’s commitment to continue to work with the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat through its Non-State Actor Programme and EVAWG and CSO forums; as well as the  Pacific Community through the Regional Rights Resource Team.

May I conclude by informing this gathering that immediately following this signing, I and other colleagues will be heading straight to the PCC Secretariat to complete the interviews of candidates for the person who will be instrumental in this project’s roll out. So you see, we are not wasting any time.

Once again my sincere thanks to UN Women and the Pacific Partnership, our church leaders and to our Triune God, who calls us to live as women and men, created equal, equally loved by God, and with equal dignity.

Vinaka vakalevu.

 

 

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