Equality Is Critical to Reducing Gender-Based Violence, ADRA Canada Says

Agency is supporting community-based protection networks to fight the scourge.

ADRA Canada, and Adventist Review
Equality Is Critical to Reducing Gender-Based Violence, ADRA Canada Says
Sheik Mohammed Usman Adam, chair of his community-based protection network, which is tackling the scourge of gender-based violence. [Photo: ADRA Canada]

Gender-based violence (GBV) violates fundamental human rights and is a major barrier to achieving gender equality. During times of crisis and emergency, multiple risk factors increase the prevalence of GBV and exacerbate existing gender inequalities. These kinds of emergency situations can significantly weaken a society’s ability to protect women and girls.

ADRA Canada works to reduce GBV during emergencies through gender-responsive actions and program implementation. “We work with women, men, religious leaders, and community-based protection networks [CBPNs] to mitigate, respond to, and prevent GBV in different parts of the world,” ADRA Canada officers said.

One of the faith leaders is Sheik Mohammed Usman Adam. “My role as a faith leader is to ensure that people live in harmony. As such, I am the chair of the CBPN,” he said.

Traditionally, imams and sheiks are sought out for counseling and dispute resolution in the community. The GBV project provides these leaders with a deeper understanding of gender-based violence, conflict resolution mechanisms, and related topics. “We used different platforms to sensitize the community about the underlying causes and consequences of violence, and existing referral mechanisms,” ADRA Canada officers shared. “This education is backed up with relevant religious scriptures that emphasize the importance of taking care of women.” Following prayers at the mosque, the imams educate men about GBV.

“Domestic violence is primarily caused in our area by economic factors and tensions from the humanitarian crisis. Men are not providing as much as they used to due to the food insecurity situation, and this tension leads to physical violence,” Adam explained. “As religious leaders, we have a powerful voice in our communities, and we use it to influence norms regarding violence against women and girls.”

Adam explained that they are usually able to identify and resolve conflicts peacefully. “For serious cases of violence, however, we collaborate with the psychosocial support workers of the project to refer victims to appropriate services,” Adam said. “It’s encouraging to see GBV cases declining and men responding positively to our services.”

About ADRA Canada

ADRA International has been the official humanitarian agency of the Seventh-day Adventist Church since 1985. In Canada, ADRA works with communities across the country and around the world to end extreme poverty and deliver emergency relief. In more than 100 countries, ADRA provides water, sanitation, health, food, education, and income opportunities so that all may live as God intended.

In Canada, the most recent source of distress has been the fires engulfing parts of British Columbia, the Northwest Territories, and the Yukon. “Uniting compassion and action, ADRA Canada stands to help ease the suffering of those escaping the wildfires,” ADRA Canada CEO Steve Matthews said. The agency “is providing aid and support to those affected, showing that in times of crisis, humanity’s strength shines brightest.”

The original version of this story was posted by ADRA Canada.

ADRA Canada, and Adventist Review