The Role of Religious Communities in Addressing Gender-Based Violence and HIV

The training began with opening speeches from a range of senior religious leaders and experts on GBV and HIV

USAID Publication August 2009
Author: Britt Herstad

This report summarises the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Health Policy Initiative, Task Order 1, project titled The Role of Religious Communities in Addressing Gender-based Violence and HIV, which was designed and implemented in Africa by Futures Group International and Religions for Peace. Recognising the importance of collaborating to prevent and reduce gender-based violence (GBV) and HIV among women and girls, the initiative partners worked to improve the capacity of religious leaders and faith-based organisations (FBOs) to respond to GBV and its links to HIV.

To that end, the first component of this project brought together African religious leaders - with a particular focus on women of faith - for a regional training workshop on GBV as related to HIV. From July 30-August 2 2007, 23 delegates from 8 countries - Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia - came together to participate in a 4-day regional training in Nairobi, Kenya. An emphasis on the participation of women infused this project, as reflected from the very beginning; participants in this regional training were drawn, in part, from the African Women of Faith Network (AWFN) and the National Inter-Religious Councils, established by Religions for Peace.

As detailed in the report, the training began with opening speeches from a range of senior religious leaders and experts on GBV and HIV. As a beginning exercise, participants were asked to agree or disagree with a few statements; this was designed to spark initial conversation about the topics at hand. For instance, most participants disagreed with this statement: "It is not appropriate for religious leaders to discuss matters relating to women and sexuality."

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