Taking Steps to End Violence Against Women

Carol Penner

In this anniversary year, the Women’s Inter-Church Council of Canada (WICC) is launching a new section of its website titled, “Restore: Ending Violence Against Women.” Women in churches across Canada have been working in small and big ways to help women and children who are affected by violence. They have been doing this work for decades, long before #MeToo became popular in the media.

The Women’s Inter-Church Council of Canada launched a major initiative on this topic in 1988 when it commissioned the resource Hands to End Violence Against Women. I was hired in 1994 to revamp that resource, and WICC republished it as a resource binder called Healing Waters.
Times have changed since 1994; people aren’t using resource binders very much anymore! That’s why WICC commissioned me this past year to work on this topic again.

The Women’s Inter-Church Council of Canada wanted me to create an online resource that would help women to take steps to end violence against women. I was happy to get on board!

I remember working on Healing Waters in 1994. I had had a computer for less than ten years. Email was just becoming popular, and I don’t think I even used the Internet. I did my research mostly in the library! Today, there are many resources scattered all over the Internet. The WICC online resource, “Restore: Ending Violence against Women,” has original content and connects you to relevant links from many useful organizations.

Our online resource approaches the issue of violence against women with action in mind. The menus are about doing things, with additional resource sections to help you as you take action. You might decide to do one or several things:

  • Reach out to a woman in your community who is going through hard times.
  • Plan a worship service on this topic.
  • Hold a workshop or study session on this topic.
  • Organize a four-part Bible study on violence against women.
  • Review or develop the sexual abuse policy in your congregation.
  • Do an audit of resources in your neighbourhood.

A whole new generation of younger women is standing at the door of the Church. Many are choosing to exit. They aren’t sure whether the good news of the gospel can really change their lives. Does the Church care about the violence they experience?

Not long ago, I was speaking with a young woman who I’ll call Rachel. Feminism was a word Rachel wasn’t comfortable with. Growing up, she wouldn’t have called herself a feminist. But one of her friends had been assaulted, and it started opening her eyes to the very real problems so many women face. She has been deeply affected by the #MeToo movement.

Her local congregation is not very interested in this topic, at least not yet! If we provide resources, young women like Rachel will have the tools they need to educate themselves. Who knows what impact Rachel and her friends can have in their community!

We hope you will use “Restore: Ending Violence Against Women.”

Carol Penner teaches and writes in the area of practical theology. She is a member of the faculty at Conrad Grebel University College, University of Waterloo. Her research interests include feminist theology, Mennonite peace theology, and abuse issues.

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