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Side By Side in Brazil: Rights and Gender Justice

By Sarah Roure, Gender Programme Officer for Christian Aid in Brazil

The Brazil Chapter of the Side by Side Movement (SbS) is committed to mobilising faith leaders and communities to play a much more distinctive role in securing gender justice in the country.

On 18 November in São Paulo, an event entitled ‘Women’s rights and justice: a faith commitment’ gathered women of faith from all over the country for joint actions, mapping experiences and networking based on a common strategy to build Gender Justice. The event was planned last June by the Brazil Chapter of SbS as part of a short-term action plan focused on Rights and Justice to challenge gender inequality.

“In Brazil, every 11 minutes a woman is raped”, said Revd Romi Bencke, General Secretary of the Conselho Nacional de Igrejas Cristãs do Brasil (CONIC). “The question of how the Churches can be active to change this reality of violence against women is critical. This is what we expect to consider during this event.”

SbS believes faith groups can play a crucial role in promoting human dignity. But what have we done so far? This is the question that guided our session as we gathered stories to evidence the role of faith in building Gender Justice. We aimed to produce short case studies that summarise previous experiences of faith-based organisations and faith communities in promoting gender justice.

Social norms prevent women from realising their rights; for example, the notion of ‘protecting the family’ can discourage speaking out against domestic violence. This means that even if there is a legal framework to ensure gender equality, this won´t be enough to shift deeply embedded patriarchal social norms that promote and condone inequality. Stories about the distinctive role of faith-based organisations in promoting Gender Justice in a context of increasing religious conservatism is critical. These journeys of challenging gender inequality stem from their faith-based vision of equal dignity for all human beings created in the image of God.

There is growing public awareness in Brazil of the links between gender inequality, wider complex inequalities, and poverty. Gender equality remains one of the major structural causes of an unequal society. Many faith groups opposed to inequality and poverty have a strong record of working on these issues. It is critical that churches and faith groups tackle these issues as a joint effort. SbS in Brazil seeks to strengthen synergies to build gender justice within a broader commitment to fighting inequality and linking it with other initiatives to promote women’s rights.

Posted by: Terrie Robinson | Friday, November 25th, 2016
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