Anglican Communion News Service reports that this week’s three-day Indaba process focused on the issue of violence has been hailed a success by participants. It was the first of the church’s Indaba gatherings designed specifically for women:
Women from both North America and Africa said they were so impressed with the format, they plan to replicate the process in the future. Eleven women travelled to Manhattan, New York, from across Africa’s Great Lakes region and America to spend March 1-3 in deep conversation across difference.
Speaking after the gathering, participants made clear it had been a significant experience for everyone. Burundi representative Mathilda Nkwirikiye said: “It is like when your neighbour lets you look through a window into his house. You learn a lot of things about him. So I have learned a lot of things about these people because they were willing to share their feelings about their experiences and their community’s experiences.”
She added that she had been surprised by how easily women who met as strangers talked about such a difficult topic—violence against women and girls. She also praised the Indaba model saying: “We generally go to conferences where facilitators have planned the lines of the conversation, but we built [the agenda] ourselves as a group; we said what we wanted to talk about and how we wanted to go through the conversation.”
Diane Eynon is the Chairperson of the Anglican Women’s Empowerment (AWE) group that facilitated the event which was hosted at the Episcopal Church’s head office. She said, “We believe this experience will allow us to take our work with young girls and women around the Anglican Communion to a higher and more effective level.
“Indaba potentially provides us with a process and framework to continue what we have been doing and will continue to do in the future: bringing girls and women from around the world together…to learn, understand, collaborate, inspire, and support each other in our work for women’s empowerment, wherever that may be.”
“Indaba” is an African term meaning “small gathering.” Retired Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams encouraged the use of these “middle-sized” gatherings for discussion of significant issues. Read more here about this week’s event.