Jessica Roland Tab

What is the mission of the Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers?

Roland: The network is a global membership-based organization which collaboratively supports the role of religious and traditional actors within conflict transformation efforts.

Addressing gender-based violence is a critical focus for members of our network. In fact, last year, the network held over 200 consultations with women and youth-led organizations and found that gender-based violence was the most the commonly mentioned cross-cutting theme of concern and focus.

How does this relate to inclusivity?

Roland: The network recognizes the barriers that gender-based violence plays at the individual, institutional, and socio-cultural levels and works to ensure that these types of barriers are addressed through advancing inclusivity in all that we do.

To ensure inclusive leadership and participation in peace processes, this means improving the participation, representation, and decision-making in society, particularly for those who are disadvantaged or marginalized.

What does your research show about how religious leaders can help prevent gender-based violence—and help survivors?

Roland: Based on the work of our members, the network has three recommendations for religious and traditional leaders who are looking to address gender-based violence within their communities.

First, faith and traditional leaders should publicly speak out against gender-based violence and raise awareness of this issue within their houses of worship. This includes addressing misinterpretations of scripture, religious beliefs or practices.

Second, faith and traditional leaders should know the resources available in their communities. This includes local domestic violence agencies. They should also seek training on how to use a trauma-informed approach to ensure that they do no further harm to survivors of abuse.

And finally, faith and traditional leaders should support survivors who speak up. Believe them when they come to you.

What compelled you to become an ambassador for Thursdays in Black?

Roland: I am proud to be an ambassador for the Thursdays in Black campaign towards ending gender-based violence.

As a survivor myself, I know how important it is to be heard and to be seen. It is my honor to join this global movement, and I encourage others to do their part in addressing this global problem.


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