In a pilgrimage of justice and peace in Burundi on 8-10 November, African women of faith met some of the world’s most pressing problems - poverty, violence and climate change - with faith, hope and action.
More than a dozen intergenerational women of faith visited Burundi with a delegation comprised of World Council of Churches (WCC) leaders as well as local women.
In Burundi, women candidly discussed how most church members are women but they are not involved in leadership. Many women said that, in their communities, gender violence is still considered normal. They added: we need to recognize that when you talk about women, you talk about humanity.
Local women also discussed specific situations in which injustice contributed to a culture of gender violence. In one school, when girls got pregnant, they are sent away, but boys who are responsible stayed studying. Human trafficking was also discussed as a major crime against women, and religious leaders - both women and men - called upon communities to support women to be self-sustaining economically.
Pilgrims also dialogued with politicians and visited some historical places.
The Burundi pilgrimage follows an October 18-19 meeting organized by the WCC and the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect. The meeting drew together Burundian religious leaders who issued a communique entitled “Sustainable Peace in Burundi.”
The communique, in addition to recognizing government, civic and religious groups engaged in peace-building, also called on the international community and government of Burundi to re-establish diplomatic relationships.
Among other recommendations, the communique proposes establishing a workshop in Bujumbura in early 2018 engaging all religions. In addition, the communique urges the Burundian government to “continue to pursue the path of national peace, security, reconciliation, inclusive dialogue and social cohesion; and to establish the conditions for free, fair and transparent elections in 2020.”