Bringing greetings from the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC), Dr Lesmore Ezekiel, AACC director of programmes, urged men to act and speak out against femicide.

It is indeed a recognition that much is required from all of us—particularly for those who do such acts in our name as men—and those men who are gathered here virtually and those who are unable to join, we are saying that such acts should not be done in our name,” he said. 

Rev. Dr Kenneth Mtata, World Council of Churches (WCC) programme director for Public Witness and Diakonia, highlighted the shocking statistics behind the event. Almost 40,000 women were killed in 2022 by people they loved and people who were close to them.”

Mtata called for churches to raise awareness of the vulnerability of women and girls in society; use church spaces to speak not only against the ill treatment of women but to uplift the dignity of women and girls; and work with secular partners. 

Voices of hurt

Filmmaker Mariam Agladze showed a short documentary, entitled One Out of Seven,” that depicts actual emergency calls from women in domestic violence solutions in Georgia. In producing the film and in a subsequent podcast, she cited the need for societal change to address the root causes” and the importance of art in making stories more visible so that change can happen.

Rev. Yamina Apolinaris, president the Fellowship of the Least Coin, reflected on the terminology we have used, over the years, to describe femicide. Regardless of the terms we use, we need to understand that all violence against women is the result of personal, social, and political ideas and practices that perpetrate violence, power, and control against women,” she said, and quoted a saying in Brazil that translates to: "We want us alive.”

Janet Ngombalu, country director for Christian Aid Kenya, noted that, in January alone, 30 women were killed in Kenya. She also called on churches be aware that, sometimes, they make the situation even worse for women. 

I have a report from a friend who had an issue with her husband, and went to report her husband in her church—and she was advised to fast and pray for her husband!” said Ngombalu. 

Anders Göranzon, general secretary of the Swedish Bible Society and a WCC Thursdays in Black ambassador, said that even countries with a so-called good track record of supporting womens rights can do a lot more. Sweden is a country with a lot history of progress when it comes to gender justice—but still my country is not always a safe haven for women,” he said. 

Mira Washington, national president of Church Women United, said the alarming state of femicide is a startling reminder. Every life lost is a call to action,” she said. In certain parts of the globe, we know faith leaders and institutions can sometimes be a barrier or an asset in efforts to prevent violence against women and violence against girls.”

But where is the change?

In a response to the speakers, Prof. Azza Karam, CEO of Lead Integrity, questioned why there are so many efforts to prevent femicide—and yet it keeps rising. 

She underscored the importance of working together across sectors—and across issues such as conflict, misogyny, and economic injustice, all of which contribute to the root causes of femicide. 

We have to look at these intersections together,” she said. We have to keep doing the work—but build the bridges to work together.”

As the webinar concluded, speakers put forth their visions for acting together. 

We are all connected, as has been said,” noted Apolinaris. I think we have experienced that in our communities, that we dont have to reinvent the wheel—we just have to build bridges and find ways to connect.

Göranzon said he will work hard to prevent misogyny. I think this is really something I will bring from this webinar: in all the different kinds of environments Im in, that it should be a joy if every person that is doing well—especially girls and women. That should be a festival for us,” he said.

Ngombalu noted that "this will require a very united front.”

There were also moments of expressed frustration that femicide is still nowhere near being eradicated. 

All of these conversations are great—and we continue to have them—but the actual thermometer of making change has not moved,” said Washington.

Yet those who are collaborating and working toward a world without violence need to be celebrated, noted Karam. 

The work that is being done by each of you is a absolutely phenomenal and absolutely necessary,” she said. Your wisdom needs to be supported deeply and appreciated.”

Words of encouragement such as this help keep those working for justice inspired, reflected Ruth Mathen—representing the WCC Gender Justice Reference Group—as she moderated the discussion. 

We understand that, wherever we are, through words of encouragement, we feel empowered to contribute,” she said. “We need to ask ourselves: what does investing look like?”