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Women Launch Inter-Faith Campaign for a Healthy Africa

Many initiatives were born or carried farther forward at the Second Inter-Faith Action for Peace in Africa Summit, which took place in Johannesburg, South Africa, in late April. Personally, I found the story of the "Mother's Cry for a Healthy Africa" the most compelling of these — calling for African women to "unite against war." Please read on for the full story; broader coverage of the event can be found at Christian Today.

By Lutheran World Federation

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa/GENEVA, 23 April 2005 (LWI) –Women participants in an inter-faith summit near Johannesburg, sent a powerful message of reconciliation and reconstruction in the launch of a symbolic “Mother’s Cry for a Healthy Africa.”

The “mother’s cry” presented in a dramatic display of poetry, recitation of holy writings and dance on April 22 marked the beginning of an inter-faith campaign that seeks to support programs targeted at healing and counseling of post-war victims. The campaign was based on the outcome of a “Mothers and Daughters Pre-summit,” attended by over 100 women drawn from all over Africa, April 18-20.

The launch in the context of the Second Inter-Faith Action for Peace in Africa (IFAPA) Summit taking place April 21-25, began with a colorful procession by the women. They carried placards expressing some of the challenges that they face including “AIDS,” “Conflict,” “FGM [female genital mutilation],” “Poverty” and “Violence.”

“African women should unite against war…. Everybody has to be concerned because peace is for the common good,” an emotional Ms Dandi Lou Amanan pleaded shortly after women and men participants sang, “We shall overcome.” Amanan is a former social worker with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in conflicted-affected areas and founder of Vision and Action of African Women Against Wars in Ivory Coast.

In their statement of solidarity, the women leaders acknowledged that men and women alike have been perpetrators and victims of violent conflicts and wars in Africa. Such conflicts, they regretted, had destroyed the spiritual, economic, social and political well being of Africa.

Their statement included an affirmation that women are the cornerstone of social harmonization and the integration of African societies, and thus could not be excluded from issues that deal with peace and security. They noted that the intervention of inter-faith women in peace building would introduce a dimension that would help lead to comprehensive and sustainable peace in Africa.

They further undertook to launch an African women’s inter-faith network, appoint regional or country liaison persons between local communities and IFAPA as well as establish an Internet-based forum through which they could share their different experiences.

Joining the women in the “Mother’s Cry for a Healthy Africa” inter-faith campaign was Dr Brigalia Bam, chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) of South Africa. Addressing the IFAPA summit earlier on, Bam encouraged women to use women’s movements to influence decision-making about key issues that touch on their well being and that of the entire society.

The Second IFAPA summit brings together over 240 participants from all over Africa, as well as observers from Europe and North America. There are eight faith communities represented at the summit namely, African Traditional Religion, Baha’i, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Rastafarian. The theme of the summit is “Working Together for Peace in Africa.” The event is coordinated by the Lutheran World Federation and hosted by the National Religious Leaders Forum of South Africa.

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One Response to “Women Launch Inter-Faith Campaign for a Healthy Africa”

  1. » On June 10th, 2005 at 12:25 pm Rev. Elizabeth Canham Said:

    I am going to South Africa this summer and will be in Johannesburg at the beginning and end of a 5 week trip. I would love to be in touch with the URI women who are Working Together for Peace in Africa.

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