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16 Days of Activism to End Gender Violence is Underway!

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The 16 Days of Activism to End Gender Violence is underway! Below are some key facts and information about the campaign including its history, significance, and important dates. Throughout these 16 days, we look forward to sharing more information about the campaign while highlighting different ways IDF partners work with women and girls to address the violence that they face.

Tostan provides a human rights-based education program across communities in eight African countries. Their latest short film entitled, “Religious Leaders at the Forefront of Social Transformation,” showcases the role of religious leadership in the movement for human rights in West Africa. Find here a new perspective to the narrative about Islam, human rights, and the role of women and girls: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m9ouZWjASQE&feature=youtu.be

This year’s global 16 Days of Activism theme is End Gender-Based Violence in the World of Work. Learn more about the Center for Women’s Global Leadership vision for Dignity at Work here: https://16dayscampaign.org/campaigns/iloendgbv/

We also invite you to spend the coming days in personal reflection by revisiting The Inukshuk Blog posting on November 15, 2017, “God As Us” – Me Too where a special two-week series by the Center for Action and Contemplation is still available: https://imagodeifund.org/god-as-us-me-too/

How the Campaign Started

The 16 Days of Activism began in 1991 when a group of 23 women representing a number of sectors from different countries and regions of the world came together at the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute with an interest in building the global women’s human rights movement. Here they discussed different aspects of gender-based violence and human rights, how to expose the systemic nature of violence against women, and ways to show how this violence is a violation of human rights.

The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence was established as one strategy these women developed to create awareness about gender-based violence (GBV), choosing to symbolically link November 25th (International Day Against Violence Against Women) and December 10 (International Human Rights Day). The link between these two days illustrates violence against women as a human rights violation. This 16-day period incorporates other important dates as well, including World AIDS Day on December 1st and World Disabilities Day on December 3rd.

Today’s Significance

Over the years 16 Days campaigns led by local activists have helped change the course of the United Nations World Conference on Human Rights and, with the help of international non-governmental organizations, led to the establishment of a UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, It’s Cause and Consequences. In 2006, the UN Secretary General (SG) consulted with civil society representatives to develop an in-depth study on violence against women in consultation with representatives from different societies. The SG’s multi-year global campaign, “UNiTE to End Violence Against Women,” and other UN agencies’ initiatives on VAW were a follow-up to this study. Since 1991, the 16 Days of Activism campaign has become a major venue for increasing people’s awareness of the UN human rights system.

Over the past years more than 5,179 organizations in 187 countries have organized 16 Days of Activism campaigns to effectively bring education, awareness, and discussion to the issue of gender-based violence on local, national, and international levels. Today, violence against women still happens everywhere, taking different forms according to its cultural context. The 16 Days of Activism campaigns continues to provide unique opportunities to build bridges across cultures and within cultures, helping people to learn from the similarities and differences that exist and adapt new ideas and practices.

For more information see https://16dayscampaign.org/about-the-campaign/

International Day of Elimination of Violence Against Women

The International Day Against Violence Against Women was declared in 1981 by the first Feminist Encuentro for Latin America and the Caribbean, a major meeting of female leaders from the region who come together to discuss and organize around issues impacting women. At this first gathering participants established the International Day Against Violence Against Women in honor of the Mirabal sisters, who opposed the Trujillo dictatorship, suffered and were violently assassinated in the Dominican Republic on November 25, 1960. The United Nations General Assembly officially declared November 25th as the International Day of Elimination of Violence Against Women in 1999.

For more information see https://16dayscwgl.rutgers.edu/about/activist-origins-of-the-campaign

World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day is celebrated on December 1 each year around the world. Founded in 1988, World AIDS day has become one of the most recognised international health days and a key opportunity to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS, support people living with HIV, commemorate those who have passed on from AIDS-related illness, and celebrate victories such as increased access to treatment and prevention services.

WHO and UNAIDS took the lead on World AIDS Day campaigning from its creation until 2004. From 2004 onwards the World AIDS Campaign’s Global Steering Committee began selecting a theme for World AIDS Day in consultation with members of local organisations and government agencies involved in the AIDS response. World AIDS Day is incorporated into many 16 Days of Activism campaigns because violence against women is both a cause and consequence of HIV and AIDS. around the globe to raise awareness on the link between violence against women and HIV/AIDS.

For more information see https://www.worldaidsday.org

World Disabilities Day

Annual celebrations of persons with disabilities began in 1981 with the International Year for Disabled Persons. The goal of this day is to promote a better understanding of disability issues, focusing on the rights of persons with disabilities and advantages of the integration of persons with disabilities into every aspect of society. The World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1982, helped established this aim of full and effective participation of persons with disabilities in the political, social, economic and cultural life of their communities.

World Disabilities Day is also incorporated into many 16 Days of Activism campaigns since women and girls with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to violence. Women with disabilities lack the same opportunities and access to resources as those living without disabilities and face more stigma and discrimination from their communities. Many 16 Days of Activism campaigns celebrate the Read More

A Salute to Jewish Philanthropy – A Tree of Life Quietly and Faithfully Welcoming the Stranger in Our Midst

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The fatal shooting that claimed the lives of eleven members of the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh a few weeks ago has left so many in our country shocked and devastated. It has eerie parallels to the church massacre that took place three years ago that took the lives of nine African Americans during a prayer service at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina.

On behalf of the Imago Dei Fund, my heartfelt condolences to all who lost loved ones at Tree of Life and our prayers and solidarity to our Jewish brothers and sisters, fellow human beings, neighbors, friends, co-workers, and fellow people of faith.

Like many, we are deeply disturbed by the rise of anti-semitic violence (that has spiked by over 57% over the past two years) and disdain for minorities and immigrants that has been walking out in bald form onto our streets and in our newsfeeds in the familiar clothing of nationalism and an eerie cloak of religiosity which is hard to watch. The killer barged into the sacred space of the synagogue while people were worshiping God with the venom of hate in his heart imbibed by the rising tide of both anti-semitism and the refugee work that Tree of Life was so involved in.

In my conversation with Jewish friends and colleagues after the tragedy, I was reminded of observations I have made over the past decade of the particularly values-driven tenor of Jewish philanthropy that I have glimpsed in places far and wide like Haiti, Cambodia, and remote places in Africa where there is barely a Jewish population but where the American Jewish World Service has a presence in the global development ecosystem. But until the Tree of Life tragedy, I didn’t know how deeply engaged Jewish philanthropy and activism was right here in the US living out one its core values: love and welcome of the “stranger in our midst”.

Depending on how much of the coverage you watched, you might not have connected the dots that this synagogue was attacked not only because it is Jewish but also because it is deeply involved in the work of supporting and resettling refugees fleeing violence and war. Shortly before the massacre, the gunman’s hate for not only Jewish people but also refugees and immigrants was proudly posted all over social media: “HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people,” he wrote. “I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered.” In this tragedy, you see in vivid form the fatal intersectionality of two ancient stigmas rising to the surface of the American psyche today: anti-semitism (which has deep roots in Christianity) and fear and disdain of the foreigner.

I am proud to be part of a Christian faith community here in Boston that welcomes newcomers to Boston and lends support to refugees through Christian organizations like World Relief which, along with HIAS, is one of the nine resettlement organizations here in the US that is faithfully continuing to serve refugees despite dramatic cuts in funding and fear of being closed down all together. But there is something different about the tenor of Jewish philanthropy. There is no evangelism mixed in, no echoes of colonialism dressed up in religious clothes. Over the past decade or so of doing philanthropy, I have noticed and admired a number of Jewish women I have interacted with in women’s philanthropic settings who have this dogged commitment to the marginalized and a no-nonsense, practical yet holistic approach to alleviating human suffering that is embodied in the core value of Tikkun Olam which means “Repair the World”.

If you listened to the eulogies at the Tree of Life funeral and the news coverage afterwards, you got a window into what Tikkun Olam looks like on our own doorsteps and around the world: an activism centered on something so basic: being a good neighbor to “strangers” (aka “foreigners”) in our midst. As Christians, we share the same Bible and also have a core value of “loving our neighbor as ourselves” but our witness in the world right now (with many notable exceptions) seems to be falling into the same trap Christianity has fallen into throughout the centuries: getting more swept up with political power and tribal identity than our core spiritual identity as human beings who are all branches of the same Tree of Life and as followers of Christ who are called very simply to love our neighbor as ourself. The work of Tikkun Olam is all of ours and knows no ethnic, religious, or geographic boundaries.

I was just privileged to attend the Black Ministerial Alliance annual dinner last week and felt so lifted by the sense of solidarity, spirituality, and love in the room that made me feel the same Tikkun Olam I sense in my Jewish friends. They are leading a faith-inspired movement in Boston to care for not only their own but for their communities who are made of many races and nationalities, many who are newcomers to Boston. There are many wonderful Christian organizations in Boston, like The Greater Boston Refugee Ministry working in partnership with the Emmanuel Gospel Center, which are doing the work of Tikkun Olam.

So we too have some tikkun Olam in our Christian activism and philanthropy but we have much to learn from our Jewish brothers and sisters to center our spirituality and our do-goodism more firmly in this core Biblical principle which appears again and again throughout the Bible—love for the stranger in our midst—but which we have lost touch with, and as a result we have lost something so basic, our very humanity and which is at the core of what philanthropy is all about and is what truly makes any country great:

And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. Deuteronomy 10:19

You must treat the foreigner living among you as native-born and love him as Read More

IDF Welcomes Erin Gerber and Katie Bunten-Wamaru to the Team!

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The Imago Dei Fund (IDF) is excited to welcome our two new Program Partners, Erin Gerber and Katie Bunten-Wamaru. Erin and Katie both bring a depth of experience, kindness, generosity and a humble respect of humanity and the challenges we face in the world. Along with Jen Oakley, they are responsible for building out the IDF portfolio, cultivating and maintaining relationships with grantee partners, funding partners, and other network partners, and executing the IDF grantmaking process.

Erin comes to IDF with over nine years of experience in gender-based violence programing across five regions in the world. She has worked for various international organizations leading programs to address violence against women and girls in Ethiopia, South Sudan, Iraq and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and the Thailand-Burma border. Most recently, Erin acted as a technical advisor to the United Nations Population Fund on gender and mental health issues, supporting local and international organizations in their programming on reproductive health and psychosocial care in crisis-affected areas across Syria, Myanmar, and Bangladesh.

Katie has over seven years’ experience working in East African development and eleven years of experience in non-profit management. She completed her BA at Wellesley College in Peace and Justice Studies and was subsequently awarded a Masters in Sustainable International Development at Brandeis University’s Heller School for Social Policy and Management, where she focused on monitoring, evaluation, and youth programming. As an organizational development specialist, Katie has worked with non-profits to align their model, operations, and impact measurement with their ultimate vision for change.

North America on Its Way to Continent-Wide Human Trafficking Safety Net Response

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From the Praxis Project:

It’s official! In late October, our partners at the Canada Centre to End Human Trafficking were awarded the contract to build and run Canada’s first ever national human trafficking hotline. Polaris’s global hotlines experts have been working closely with the Centre to build out the implementation plan for the hotline, which is modelled very closely on the Polaris-operated U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline. Now, three years into a successful partnership with Consejo Ciudadano, which runs the national human trafficking hotline in Mexico, North America is well on its way to having a continent-wide safety net response for victims and survivors of human trafficking.

Shining Hope for Communities in the New York Times

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What a Kenyan Slum Can Teach America About Politics?  Don’t put your hope in elected officials. Real change has to start locally. Read More

Still Harbor Group Facilitation Immersion 2019 Cohort – Still Accepting Applications!

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“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal.”
From "The Seneca Falls Declaration of Rights and Sentiments”