Cecilia Castillo Nanjari. Photo: Valter Hugo Muniz/WCC

Cecilia Castillo Nanjari. Photo: Valter Hugo Muniz/WCC

Women in Chile have been subject to violence, forced nudity, humiliation and even rape in the framework of the social protests taking place in the nation since last October, said Chilean theologian and lawyer Cecilia Castillo Nanjari.

“Women must keep resisting, wherever we are. Women must build resilience to keep our struggle, whether it be in our churches, ecumenical movements or workplaces. We must fight for our right to equality, our sexual and reproductive rights, our right to live in peace,” she affirmed.

When asked about the role of faith-based organizations and churches in supporting the pursuit for peace and equality for women, Nanjari stated that we must be wary of certain forms of fundamentalism and conservatism. “What hurts Latin America and the Caribbean the most is the silence of some ecumenical groups and churches in light of these violations against women. They say that they are by our side, supporting us, but they are not always willing to act in our defence,” she said.

Rev. Nicqi Ashwood, programme executive for the World Council of Churches Just Community of Women and Men, said: “Her passion and commitment challenges each of us to move beyond superficiality in the campaign against rape and violence, and to be earnest in overturning the structures which continue to facilitate inequality and violence against women and children.”

Nanjari is receiving the 2020 Sylvia-Michel Prize, which honors persons and projects supporting the promotion of leading positions for women in the church. Its name commemorates Pastor Sylvia Michel, who was elected president of the Reformed Church of Aargau in 1980. It is awarded by the female presidents and vice-presidents of Switzerland’s Reformed Churches in conjunction with the World Communion of Reformed Churches.

Nanjari will be honored on 8 March at the Reformed Church in Zug, Switzerland, which coincides with International Women's Day. The award is for her tireless efforts in the past 30 years to help end domestic violence, and to advocate for economic and gender justice to support the human dignity of women.

Just Community of Women and Men

Reformed Church of Zug