15 February 2023, Geneva, Switzerland: A 'Waterfall of Solidarity and Resistance', an exhibition produced by the World Council of Churches as part of the Thursdays in Black campaign for a world without rape and violence – mounted at the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva.

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Thursdays in Black

A global movement for a world without rape and violence.

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In every country, gender-based violence is a tragic reality. This violence is frequently hidden, and victims are often silent, fearing stigma and further violence.

We all have a responsibility to speak out against violence, to ensure that women and men, boys and girls, are safe from rape and violence in homes, schools, work, streets – in all places in our societies.

The campaign is simple but profound. Wear black on Thursdays. Wear a pin to declare you are part of the global movement resisting attitudes and practices that permit rape and violence. Show your respect for women who are resilient in the face of injustice and violence. Encourage others to join you.

Often black has been used with negative racial connotations. In this campaign Black is used as a color of resistance and resilience.

Share your Thursdays in Black photos on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, using hashtags #ThursdaysinBlack and #WCC!

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Thursdays in Black badge

Thursdays in Black grew out of the World Council of Churches (WCC) Decade of Churches in Solidarity with Women (1988-1998), in which the stories of rape as a weapon of war, gender injustice, abuse, violence, and many tragedies that grow outward from such violence became all the more visible. But what also became visible was women’s resilience, agency and personal efforts to resist such violations.

The campaign was inspired by:

  • The Mothers of the Disappeared in Buenos Aires, Argentina who on Thursdays protested at the Plaza de Mayo, against the disappearance of their children during the violent dictatorship.
  • The Women in Black in Israel and Palestine, who up to now protest against war and violence.
  • Women in Rwanda and Bosnia who were protesting against the use of rape as a weapon of war during the genocide.
  • Black Sash movement in South Africa protesting against apartheid and its use of violence against black people.

Join this movement of people and organizations that can make a difference to individuals, communities, and national and international policy forums.

 

Inspiring others: Thursdays in Black Ambassadors

Standing together from many sectors and many countries, Thursdays in Black ambassadors are conveying a sense of solidarity against violence and injustice.

Promotional Materials

Feel free to download and print your own campaign materials:

Graphic design files (Adobe Illustrator and InDesign) are  available for adapting to different languages or adding an organizational logo. Please email [email protected] with your request.

Do you only want a small order of badges? Small orders can be filled by the WCC on a donation basis. Email [email protected].

Wondering if you could help the movement by being a “national supplier” of badges and other resources locally or nationally? Contact [email protected] to express your interest!

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We observe Thursdays in Black poster
Waterfall of Solidarity and Resistance

Be moved and inspired by the individual stories behind the panels of tapestry. A publication that does justice to the personal artistry is now available: Waterfall of Solidarity and Resistance – Sharing the Stories.

Bible Study Series

Listening, Learning and Responding to the Word of God



Led by Thursdays in Black Ambassadors, a series of Bible studies is being prepared for individual and congregational reflection on sexual and gender-based violence. Such reflection will help us listen to the word of God and apply our faith and vision of justice, peace and love in our contexts today. The reflections will address critical topics that arise in our societies and Christian communities that contribute to or respond to gender-based violence. The reflections will provide diverse perspectives from our wide ecumenical fellowship. 

The Bible Studies are available individually, and also as a booklet for easy download and sharing for group study. 

Toolkit for study, prayer and action

Raise awareness about gender-based violence and the need to stand in solidarity against rape and violence.

In addition to the promotional resources for Thursdays in Black, the following resources for study, prayer and action can assist your congregation or group to reflect on the root causes of violence,  our Christian calling for peace and justice, and  the need for public solidarity. Materials will be posted in different languages as available. Resources will be regularly added; follow #ThursdaysinBlack on Twitter for updates.

Encouraging solidarity through prayer following Pilgrim Team Visits to countries devastated by war and violence.

Additional resources

Biblical reflection on Esther: Victim and Accomplice to Shadowy Patriarchal Violence? prepared by WCC Ecumenical Theological Education.

Social Message along with a foundational document and group study material for leaders and participants prepared by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Hagar's Journey/Pilgrimage: Bible Studies on the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace by Jennifer P. Martin, United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands

Excerpts from A Biblical Journey for Justice by Fulata Lusungu Moyo (bible studies prepared for the WCC’s Tenth Assembly in Busan, South Korea):

Introduction: Contextual Bible Study to Hear the Vulnerably Loving and Just God

Chapter 4: Peace without Violence against Women:  The Rape of Tamar (2 Samuel 13:1-22)

Chapter 5: For Daily Livelihood: Ruth Trafficked and Prostituted (Ruth 1:16-17)

Chapter 6: As Much Justice as She Needed: Persisting for Gender Justice (Luke 18:1-10)

Cries of Anguish, Stories of Hope: A six part study, originally prepared for Lent 2010. Each week's study focuses on a different part of the world and a different form of violence against women.

Biblical reflections on gender equality and violence for individual or group study by Rev. Doreen Wynter, Jamaica Baptist Union

 

Pray

Pilgrim Prayers for Women in Conflict Situations

Did you know my name? Poem and prayer service based on Genesis 16:1-10 from the Ecumenical Centre, Geneva, November 2018

Service on gender-based violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Prayer Service: NoXcuses for Violence against Women and Girls

Prayer on Remembering Women

Poem on gender equality related to the UN Sustainable development goal nr.5

Prayers of Thanksgiving and Intercession related to the UN Sustainable development goal nr.5 on gender equality

Poem: Paramos (ES) / We stop in our tracks (EN)

Litany and symbolic action from the Decade Festival Hearing on Violence against Women (EN) / Dekade-Festival (DE) / Festival de la Décennie (FR) / Festival del Decenio (ES)

Reflection on John 8:2-11: What shall we do with our stones?

 

Act

16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence

Created in God's Image. From Hierarchy to Partnership: a church manual on gender awareness and leadership development (World Communion of Reformed Churches and World Council of Churches

Gender-based violence and COVID-19

Domestic Abuse and COVID-19: How Churches Can Respond - a joint resource from the Anglican Consultative Council and the Anglican Alliance

Waterfall Tapestry

Over 180 panels were created by individuals all over the world sharing their pain and hope for a world without rape or violence. Share the moving power of the Waterfall of Solidarity and Resistance through an artistic publication and ready made poster or banner exhibitions. 

Youth Edition

The Thursdays in Black campaign's Youth Edition, developed by young people who are building a network in support of a world free from rape and violence. 

Inspiring others: Thursdays in Black Ambassadors

Standing together from many sectors and many countries, Thursdays in Black ambassadors are conveying a sense of solidarity against violence and injustice.

Making a Difference: Thursdays in Black Trailblazers

 

Through their relentless innovation and energy, Thursdays in Black Trailblazers impact their communities and networks.

Are you a Thursdays in Black Trailblazer?

 

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#ThursdaysinBlack at the Ecumenical Centre

Photo: Ivars Kupcis/WCC

Make the Thursdays in Black Pledge

I commit to Thursdays in Black. In solidarity, In protest, In mourning, For awareness and In hope
By supporting Thursdays in Black I stand:
- In solidarity with 1 in 3 women worldwide who face violence in their lives,
- In protest against systems and societies that encourage violence in any form,
- In mourning for men, women and children who are harmed and killed in sexual violence,
- For awareness and knowledge about the challenges of sexual and gender-based violence,
- In the hope that a different reality is possible.

Trailblazer /ˈtreɪlbleɪzə/ (noun)

  • a person who is the first to do something; an innovator.
  • one who changes the way in which things are done, one who transforms culture for good 
  • an individual who stands out and who challenges the status quo;
  • who paves the way to make a better world for themselves and others

Are you a Thursdays in Black Trailblazer?

Over the decades of the Thursdays in Black movement, individuals in churches, communities, networks and grassroots groups have made a real impact in raising awareness about gender-based violence and transforming attitudes and practices to prevent rape and abuse. Young people, pastors, lay leaders, survivors – such trailblazers have reached out and through their commitment, energy, and innovation, made Thursdays in Black a global movement of solidarity and hope.

The WCC wants to recognize and highlight the initiatives of such Trailblazers, to inspire and multiply our collective efforts against rape and violence.

Are you a Thursdays in Black Trailblazer or want to recognize someone as a Trailblazer in your community?

Send your nomination with information on what the person has done, with links to any video, social media or online material on their initiatives and explain in one paragraph why you think they should be recognized as a “Thursdays in Black” Trailblazer.

The WCC will highlight recognized Trailblazers and their initiatives in a variety of ways: on social media, on this website, in feature stories, or videos.

To send in your nomination, email [email protected] with the subject “Nomination for Thursdays in Black Trailblazer”.

Thursdays in Black ambassadors play a vital role in increasing the impact of our collective call for a world without rape and violence. Ambassadors are leaders in their community, committed to being visible and outspoken in the Thursdays in Black movement. By standing together from many sectors and many countries, Thursdays in Black ambassadors are conveying a sense of solidarity against violence and injustice.

To learn more about Thursdays in Black ambassadors, please contact [email protected].

Ambassadors appointed 2023-2024

Rev. Sally Azar: Thursdays in Black “is universally bringing people together”

Our series of interviews with Thursdays in Black ambassadors highlights those who are playing a vital role in increasing the impact of our collective call for a world without rape and violence. Rev. Sally Azar is a pastor at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, and currently serves as a pastor in Jerusalem for both Arabic and English-speaking congregations. 

Ambassadors appointed 2019-2022

Dr Agnes Abuom: “Enough is enough”

Dr Agnes Abuom was moderator of the World Council of Churches (WCC) Central Committee. From Kenya, Abuom was a laywoman in the Anglican Church of Kenya. She passed away in May 2023.

Rev. Michael Blair: “Collaborate in the healing and transformation of the world”

Our series of interviews with Thursdays in Black ambassadors highlights those who are playing a vital role in increasing the impact of our collective call for a world without rape and violence. Rev. Michael Blair is general secretary of the General Council for The United Church of Canada. He is also a member of the World Council of Churches Commission on World Mission and Evangelism.

Bishop Elizabeth Eaton: “No longer will we stay silent”

Elizabeth Eaton is presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). On 8 August, the ELCA adopted a resolution to encourage church-wide participation in the World Council of Churches Thursdays in Black campaign for a world free from rape and violence.

Rev. Chris Ferguson: “Wake up to how this world is”

This is the second in a series of interviews with Thursdays in Black ambassadors who are playing a vital role in increasing the impact of our collective call for a world without rape and violence. Rev. Chris Ferguson is general secretary of the World Communion of Reformed Churches.

Rev. Prof. Dr h.c. Cornelia Füllkrug-Weitzel: “Respect for the life and dignity of women needs to be promoted by all churches”

Our series of interviews with Thursdays in Black ambassadors highlights those who are playing a vital role in increasing the impact of our collective call for a world without rape and violence. Rev. Prof. Dr h.c. Cornelia Füllkrug-Weitzel is retiring as president of "Brot für die Welt" and "Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe" after leading the German charity for 20 years.

Larissa Aguiar Garcia: "We're opening a safe space”

This is the fourth in a series of interviews with Thursdays in Black ambassadors who are playing a vital role in increasing the impact of our collective call for a world without rape and violence. Larissa Aguiar Garcia, from Igreja Metodista do Brasil, is a member of the World Council of Churches (WCC) ECHOS Commission for young people.

Jouni Hemberg: “Make the message more visible”

Our series of interviews with Thursdays in Black ambassadors highlights those who are playing a vital role in increasing the impact of our collective call for a world without rape and violence. Jouni Hemberg is executive director of Finn Church Aid.

Alison Judd: “Be willing to challenge”

Our series of interviews with Thursdays in Black ambassadors highlights those who are playing a vital role in increasing the impact of our collective call for a world without rape and violence. Alison Judd is the world president for the World Federation of Methodist and Uniting Church Women.

Rev. Damon Mkandawire: “A man is a gender justice champion”

This is the fifth in a series of interviews with Thursdays in Black ambassadors who are playing a vital role in increasing the impact of our collective call for a world without rape and violence. Rev. Damon Mkandawire is hospital administrator for the United Church of Zambia’s Mbereshi Mission Hospital.

Hanbeet Rhee: “Young people can be bridges”

Our series of interviews with Thursdays in Black ambassadors highlights those who are playing a vital role in increasing the impact of our collective call for a world without rape and violence. Hanbeet Rhee, from the Presbyterian Church of Korea, is a member of the Ecumenical Youth Council in Korea. She is also a commissioner with the World Council of Churches (WCC) ECHOS programme, as well as a youth advisor for the WCC Central Committee.

Jessica Roland: “Believe them when they come to you”

Our series of interviews with Thursdays in Black ambassadors highlights those who are playing a vital role in increasing the impact of our collective call for a world without rape and violence. Jessica Roland, is senior specialist for Inclusive Peace for the Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers.

Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit: “We as churches can really make a difference”

During 16 Days Against Gender-Based Violence, the World Council of Churches staff are demonstrating the links between their work and efforts to overcome sexual and gender-based violence under the theme, “From our House to Yours”.

Today, the #16Days contribution is from the General Secretariat, and the important role leadership plays in making equality and justice visible, and violence unacceptable.

Waterfall of Solidarity and Resistance

About the tapestry

In 2019 there was an idea to lift stories of pain and healing, violence and justice, resistance, and resilience through art. A tapestry of solidarity for a global exhibit at the World Council of Churches 11th Assembly and beyond.

Panels started to come in, with inspiring stories of commitment, hope, survival. But an important element was missing, someone who could put all the blocks together into a tapestry.  We were introduced to Janine Marja Schneider, in Brazil, who put aside her own work for several months, to make the tapestry a reality.

Janine not only provided her artistry, but she also gave the heart to the stories she found in her hands. “All these squares and these hopes, for a world without violence, and without femicide and without rape, all these wishes, these cries, I am going to sew, forming a waterfall. I am emotional and asking all of you to send me good energies and prayers so that I can do it.”

Part of the Thursdays in Black campaign

The Waterfall is a tangible symbol of the Thursdays in Black campaign, in which individuals, churches, groups, and organizations show that they are a part of a global movement to eliminate gender-based violence. The Thursdays in Black campaign is simple yet profound. Wear black on Thursdays.  Wear a pin to declare you are part of the global movement working towards a world without rape and violence. Show respect for resilient women in the face of injustice and violence.

The Thursdays in Black Waterfall of Solidarity and Resistance is a tapestry crafted by women across the world who continue to hope for a world free from rape and violence.

One block depicts a woman with a zipper for a mouth, expressing her reaction to psychological violence and control experienced at home. Another block has the wishful words ”Safe Space for Everyone.“ Other blocks promote the Thursdays in Black global campaign for a violence-free world. Some squares depict women crying. Others read “Hope” or “Courage.” Together, they say: “Enough! Basta!”

These visual statements point to deeper stories, some told and some never told, yet they are happening around the world. As Brazilian artist Janine Marja Schneider sewed them together, she hoped the finished Waterfall of Solidarity and Resistance would make a powerful, international statement of a global commitment to end rape and violence.

Sharing the stories, making an impact

Carrying women‘s stories of survival and hope, the Waterfall of Solidarity and Resistance made its way to WCC 11th Assembly in Karlsruhe, summer of 2022. After the assembly, it has been displayed at the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva.

It’s now possible to apply to display the full tapestry at major events and settings. For instructions, conditions, and promotional resources, see below.

For smaller settings, sets of 70x100cm posters or 85x200 cm roll-up banners are also available. For the high resolution print files of these options, please email [email protected] .

The over 180 blocks—which every single one tells a story—are arranged in colourful strips that flow like liquid and does gently move when people pass by them.

The power of the Waterfall Tapestry is not only in each panel, but in the story of its creation.

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Thursdays in Black Waterfall Tapestry

The Thursdays in Black Waterfall of Solidarity and Resistance was launched at the WCC's 11th Assembly in 2022.

Selection of the panels with painful and powerful stories as well as hopeful examples of solidarity against gender-based violence.

Contribute panels for the tapestry

Individuals and groups are encouraged to continue to create panels for the tapestry. 

You can prepare square cloth panels with images and messages that reflect your hope and commitment to overcome gender-based abuse and violence. They might lift up an individual who has made you most aware of the issues, or a scripture passage, or a picture or image that to you means a journey for healing or solidarity. These are just some ideas - what is on the panel is up to you.

What is required is:

  • Panels should be in cloth, 30 cm x 30 cm (12in x 12in) with a 1cm/half inch border for joining panels together
  • Ideally, the background colour should be black, purple or white

When completed, please post your square along with a page describing who has prepared the square and any background or story on the image or message* to:

Nicole Ashwood
Just Community of Women and Men
World Council of Churches
P.O. Box 2100
1211 Geneva 2
Switzerland

* If there is any part of the background that you do not wish to be shared publicly as part of the promotion of the tapestry or the exhibit itself, please clearly indicate this when submitting.

For more information, please contact [email protected].

Waterfall of Solidarity and Resistance

Be moved and inspired by the individual stories behind the panels of tapestry. A publication that does justice to the personal artistry is now available: Waterfall of Solidarity and Resistance – Sharing the Stories.

Displaying the Waterfall Tapestry

How to apply

What is required to host the tapestry:

  • Adequate space and equipment/personnel to hang the tapestry (see tapestry hanging instructions below)
  • Space where there is significant visibility for impact
  • Commitment to publicizing the tapestry and providing interpretation materials for the audience
  • Share images and stories with the WCC
  • Signed commitment to cover costs of, and follow the WCC procedures for, shipping and insurance.
  • Stick to the dates and arrangements agreed.
  • Signed contract and a named responsible person.

Those interested to host the tapestry are requested to fill out the expression of interest form. Consideration will be given based on the requirements and scheduling.

Tapestry Hanging Instructions

  • The tapestry is in two sections, a large upper banner, and then 20+ separate strips of panels. Each section needs to be threaded by a strong pole capable of handling a weight of approx. 30 kilos. The pole with the strips of panels should be hung behind and at the bottom of the upper banner (see photo).
  • The full tapestry is 6.15 meters wide and approximately 5 meters long.
  • The strips of panels are numbered on the back and should be threaded onto the pole in that order.
  • Photos of the packed tapestry when it arrives and before it is shipped should be taken. At the conclusion of the display, it should be packed as neatly, if not more neatly, than when it arrived.

Promotional support for exhibition hosts