16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence

Please pray with us during the 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence, 25 November – 10 December. Here are 16 short reflections from around the world to help focus your prayers.

Some readers may find portions of the following reflections upsetting.

Day 1: 25 November
Day 2: 26 November
Day 3: 27 November
Day 4: 28 November
Day 5: 29 November
Day 6: 30 November
Day 7: 1 December
Day 8: 2 December
Day 9: 3 December
Day 10: 4 December
Day 11: 5 December
Day 12: 6 December
Day 13: 7 December
Day 14: 8 December
Day 15: 9 December
Day 16: 10 December

DAY 1: 25 November – Introduction

‘Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.’ Martin Luther King

Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. It also marks the first day of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence.

Between 25 November and 10 December, individuals, groups and organisations around the world use these 16 days to raise awareness of gender-based violence, speak up against it and inspire people to do what they can to end it. Please join us in praying about this huge issue, and the people affected by it.

God, we pray that throughout the next 16 days, our hearts and minds will be open to better understand the reality of gender-based violence and how we can come together to end it. Amen.

DAY 2: 26 November – South Africa 

‘Now I’m empowered, a beautiful woman, speaking out against any sexual violence in my community. I am strong. I’m looking forward to sharing my knowledge with my community and the whole world.’ Esperande, South Africa

Esperande is a survivor of sexual and gender-based violence, and is now a ‘champion’ member of the 547 Survivor Movement, which Tearfund helped set up. She has been invited to speak to global audiences about the needs of survivors of violence and the importance of movements like 547. 

Please pray that the strength of survivors like Esperande, and their willingness to speak up, will have a huge impact. Pray that community members will listen to what they have to say, and change behaviours that are causing harm.

DAY 3: 27 November – Nigeria 

‘I have learnt that I have a right to choose and decide what I do with my body.’ Abigail, Nigeria 

Abigail is the executive secretary of a survivors’ movement in Fobur, central Nigeria. She has been empowered by the knowledge that a woman has a right to her own body and can refuse sexual demands from a man. 

Ask God to open the eyes of women in abusive relationships, that they will recognise their rights and move towards the restoration of broken relationships and lives. 

DAY 4: 28 November – DRC 

‘Now I am raising my sheep and I am once again part of the community. People don’t just see me as a rape victim, they see me as me.’ Maman Jacqueline, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) 

Maman Jacqueline is part of a project run by Tearfund together with the Anglican Church in North Kivu, DRC. She was given a sheep and some beans to plant, as well as training and support to make the most of what she received. As a result, she was able to go from being a destitute outsider, to an active and thriving member of her community. ‘I hope to pay for my children’s school fees and other needs we have. When my sheep have some lambs I will keep one and sell the other at market,’ says Jacqueline. ‘Later I will be able to buy clothes, which will remind me of the project and will be a good memory.’ 

Pray for peace in DRC and other countries where gender-based violence is rife in conflict, and praise God for the work of Tearfund staff and partners restoring the lives of people like Jacqueline. 

DAY 5: 29 November – Myanmar 

‘I am very pleased and have a lot of confidence right now, as I get the opportunity to go and attend school, where I’d never been in my life.’ Naw Way Wah, Myanmar 

Naw Way Wah is a survivor of sexual and gender-based violence, and has benefitted from a healing journey programme run by Tearfund’s partner. She was able to attend handicraft classes, where she learned to sew, knit and weave, and is now able to earn money for herself and her son. 

Pray for Naw Way Wah and her son, that their lives will continue to benefit from the healing journey and the classes. 

DAY 6: 30 November – Brazil 

‘Taking part in the workshop had quite a positive impact on my life, both on a family level and in the ministry I carry out with the other church leaders.’ Silas Araújo, Brazil 

Silas, a leader at the Baptist Church in Lago Norte em Palmas, Brazil, was invited to attend a Transforming Masculinities workshop run by a Tearfund partner. 

These workshops challenge cultural norms and practices, and encourage men to be part of the solution to gender-based violence. ‘Issues are now discussed openly... allowing changes of habit and mentality,’ Silas says. 

Praise God and pray for the Transforming Masculinities workshops, both in Brazil and around the world. Pray that this vital work will grow, and that harmful attitudes among men will be changed. 

DAY 7: 1 December – Liberia 

‘I have not slept soundly for 20 years; last night I slept again. A weight has been lifted.’ Rose, Liberia 

Rose is part of one of the support groups in Monrovia, Liberia. She found out about the groups through a neighbour, who invited her to participate in a Journey to Healing workshop. 

Rose escaped her situation with her children and went back to her parents’ house, where she is raising her children. Her peer support group has been a safe place where she has been able to share her story without stigma. She’s made new friendships, has started a market stall and is sending her children to school again. 

Please pray for more women to find support groups, which help to give them the nurturing environment they need to rebuild their lives. 

DAY 8: 2 December – Iraq 

‘Throughout the sessions I realised I am not the only one to have faced this type of violence. In each session I learned how to believe in myself, and at the last session I decided to talk.’ Betty, Iraq 

Betty is an 18-year-old survivor of sexual and gender-based violence, displaced with her family in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq following ISIS attacks on her village. For three years she suffered her abuse in silence. 

After taking part in Community Dialogues, she found the strength to ask for help, and was accompanied by Tearfund staff to report her perpetrator. She’s now receiving support and using her experience to raise awareness among other girls in the community. 

Pray for the continuation of the Community Dialogues to increase support within communities, minimise stigma that survivors face and increase awareness of gender-based violence. 

DAY 9: 3 December – Nigeria 

‘As a husband and father of three daughters I have to be a positive role model by the way I treat their mother.’ Ben, Nigeria 

Ben is a staff member and took part of the Transforming Masculinities workshop in Jos, Nigeria. The five-day workshop addressed some of the cultural and societal norms which create unequal power dynamics between men and women and can lead to gender-based violence. Ben was transformed by the workshop and is now actively speaking out against gender-based violence. 

Please pray for more men like Ben to recognise the social norms which do harm to women around the world, and be willing to change their behaviour to reflect more equal relationships. 

DAY 10: 4 December – Colombia 

‘I am a woman reborn from the ashes, with great hopes for the future.’ Nancy, Colombia 

Nancy is a survivor of sexual violence, but who’s life has dramatically changed as a result of the ‘Uniting Voices, Weaving Hope’ programme. When she arrived at the programme she was full of pain and mistrust, but today Nancy is a renewed woman. She is rebuilding her life, and is working on behalf of other women who, like her, have experienced pain and suffering as victims of sexual violence. 

Please pray for women like Nancy who’ve experienced violence: that they can be healed. Pray for the willingness of the church to be open to this programme which is bringing transformation to women like Nancy. 

DAY 11: 5 December – Chad 

‘It was brought home to me that violence against women is because of inequality of power, we need to think about our roles as men.’ Pastor Enoch, Chad

Pastor Enoch took part in Transforming Masculinities training for faith leaders, where the root causes of violence, such as female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) were explored. This approach looks at power dynamics, and the implications of power inequality. 

Pray for Tearfund’s work on FGM/C, especially for faith leaders committed to speaking out against it, for courage and wisdom. 

DAY 12: 6 December – Brazil 

‘I’ve been led to rethink my bias on what being a man means, following the example of Jesus Christ.’ Evandro, Brazil 

‘In the northeastern region of Brazil we grow up learning to be macho, and to see women always as inferior. This [workshop] encouraged me to fight against all forms of violence against women in all areas, in church and the community where I live, to see how to influence other men and follow the example of the man Jesus of Nazareth.’ 

Pray that more men like Evandro will be inspired by the example of Jesus, and that their influence will spread and make a difference.

DAY 13: 7 December – Mali 

‘I have learnt what true leadership is and how, when we come together as women, we can accomplish great things.’ Mariama, Mali 

Mariama is a survivor of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) and has been part of a Journey to Healing programme, where women come together to share experiences and support one another. Mariama leads a peer support group, and through her leadership the group has been able to produce and sell peanut paste, which gives them some financial independence. 

Please pray for survivors of FGM/C, that through the peer support groups they will continue to gain confidence in themselves. 

DAY 14: 8 December – DRC 

‘We help the couple establish the dialogue, which is the key to success in the home, and show them how to maintain harmony in a couple.’ Gender champion, DRC 

In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), ‘gender champions’ are individuals who are teaching people in their communities on the importance of gender equality. Part of this is to establish good dialogue between husbands and wives so that violence does not become normal practice within the home. 

Thank God and pray for these gender champions, that they will have the strength to challenge violence and promote healthy relationships. 

DAY 15: 9 December – Peru 

‘You are kind, you are intelligent, you are important.’ 

These were the words captured on a sign held by young women taking part in an awareness-raising campaign aimed at reducing sexual and gender-based violence. Paz y Esperanza is a human rights organisation in Latin America whose aim is to help women to increase their resilience and improve their income to make them less vulnerable to violence. 

Today we pray for women who are rebuilding their lives after violence to know that they are important and to know their worth. We pray for the good work that Paz y Esperanza are doing to help women rebuild their lives. 

DAY 16: 10 December 

‘The message you heard from the very beginning is this: we must love one another.’ (1 John 3:11) 

Over the past 16 days we have heard from survivors of gender-based violence, and about the work that is being done to end violence against women and girls. But we cannot do this if we forget to love one another: in our words, actions and attitudes. Jesus calls us to love one another in this way, and by doing this we honour one another and God’s image of creation. We can end violence against women, it starts with an attitude of heart. 

Pray for women and girls affected by sexual and gender-based violence, and for Tearfund’s work on this issue to be transformative; and pray today for this epidemic to end. Thank you for standing with us in prayer for an end to gender-based violence.

Some of the names used in these stories have been changed to protect people's identities.