Episcopal Relief & Development and Islamic Relief USA have launched a partnership to increase engagement among Christian and Muslim faith leaders to end gender-based violence in Liberia.
Islamic Relief USA’s (IRUSA) support expands the ongoing gender-based violence (GBV) program that Episcopal Relief & Development launched in 2015 with a three-year grant from the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women. Implemented by the organization’s local partner, Episcopal Church of Liberia Relief and Development, this program equips local faith leaders – including youth – to prevent violence and increase support for survivors through utilizing the Faith Leader GBV Prevention and Response Toolkit and other strategies.
“It is very important that faith communities work together to support victims of gender-based violence or any other form of violence,” said Anwar Khan, CEO of Islamic Relief USA. “Our faith teaches us to respect and care for each other; to respect the rights and dignity of mothers, sisters, wives and daughters. It is very important that women have safe spaces to pursue their aspirations.”
In Liberia, 45% of women aged 15-49 have experienced violence during their lifetime, and 18% have experienced sexual violence. GBV is pervasive throughout Liberia, attributable in part to social and institutional breakdown during the country’s 14-year civil war. Christian and Muslim faith leaders through the Inter-Religious Council of Liberia and other groups helped to broker peace during the conflict, and in recent years these leaders have leveraged their influence and credibility to address GBV as well.
“We are working with faith leaders to examine religious texts that have been used to justify violence against women, and instead interpret them to encourage dignity and respect,” said Annette Musu Kiawu, the National Director for Episcopal Church of Liberia Relief & Development. “Christians and Muslims have worked together for peace and justice for many years, and there is tremendous power in our communities to promote and embody positive change on this issue.”