On 9 August 2020 South Africa celebrates National Women’s Day, a day to celebrate and honour the contribution of women to the transformation of South Africa, and to draw attention to significant issues women in South Africa still face today. In 2020 amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and continued violence against women, its importance feels all the more relevant.

Faith communities have long been complicit in upholding the patriarchy and perpetrating violence – directly and indirectly – against women. The recent action taken by Anglican laity and clergy aims to tackle these issues head on with the church. The group initiated a conversation with the Rev Dr Thabo Makgoba, the Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, based on their statement GATVOL YET HOPEFUL! addressing matters of patriarchy and GBV within the church. 

Their statement clearly highlights the Church’s leading role in perpetuating dangerous conditions for women, making the church complicit in the crimes against women, and calls on Church leadership to take explicit action to “condemn its death-dealing beliefs, doctrines, and practices.” By asking Church leadership to focus on the role that their own doctrines, teachings, beliefs and practices have in perpetuating dangerous conditions for women, rather than locating the problem outside of the Church.

At IAM, we sincerely hope and pray that globally all denominations and religious institutions will acknowledge their role in addressing the violation of women and make it a priority to turn the tide so that women are celebrated and affirmed in all aspects of life.  We have no time to waste on this urgent matter. 

You can watch a recording of “Gatvol! ACSA Women in Conversation with the most Revd Dr Thabo Makgoba” online to learn more about the conversation and the public response of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa to date.