In light of its social responsibility and its time honoured role in furthering development and humanitarian values, the Coptic Church has joined the global community in the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence. It started by lighting in orange St Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo.
The 16 Days of Activism commences every year on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and runs until International Human Rights Day on 10 December.
During the 16 Days of Activism, around the World iconic buildings and monuments are lit up in orange as a call for global action to increase awareness and galvanise advocacy efforts while sending a message to the whole world that violence against women and girls is unacceptable.
In response to the 16 Days of Activism initiative, the Public Services Bishopric of the Coptic Orthodox Church launched a document sponsored by Pope Tawadros II confirming the Church’s longstanding stance against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) as a form of violence against women and girls. The document also serves to highlight the Church’s position within context of the National Strategy to Combat Violence against Women and the National Strategy for Empowering Egyptian Women 2030.
Online awareness seminars against female circumcision are also being conducted in ten Egyptian governorates under the slogan “Let me be me as God created me; as a human being I do not accept being circumcised”.
The Coptic Church is holding a number of other activities to stress aversion to violence against women. Among these are workshops and seminars for priests and servants with the aim of enhancing their knowledge of the scope of violence inflicted on women, and honing their capabilities and skills to deal with it.
Public sessions have also been held by the Church to raise awareness in general on the issue of gender-based violence, and in specific of discrimination and violence against women with disabilities.
Other awareness campaigns targeted young men to urge them to take positive action against the harmful practices and violence meted to women. Special emphasis was placed on sexual harassment and imposed early marriage. The campaigns were conducted under themes such as: “Women, you are not alone”; “Women are not created to be offended”; and “If you are truly a man, you should protect her”.
Art workshops led by girls have been held by the Church, to design artworks that urge combating violence against women, especially inherited popular culture.
On a more positive-action front, the Church is offering psychological and rehabilitation support to women and girls who have been victims of violence.
In an appreciation to its attitude, Egypt’s National Council for Women (NCW) thanked Pope Tawadros for the public expression of lighting up St Mark’s in orange in solidarity with combating violence against women.
Dr Maya Morsy, President of the NCW, expressed her pride and happiness in the vital role played by the Coptic Church as a great supporter to the women and their rights. “What happened is a message to the whole world that Egypt—with all her associations—stands as one in opposition to violence against women,” Dr Morsy noted.
8 December 2020