Ending Violence Against Young Women and Girls.

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The United Nations has declared 12 August 2010 to 11 August 2011 as: The UN Year of Youth. “Our Year. Our Voice.”

The Steering Group of the International Anglican Youth Network (IAYN) wishes to take part in this UN Year of Youth by inviting young Anglicans to begin an in-depth study of a topic addressed by several Networks of the Anglican Communion, numerous Lambeth Conferences and UN Resolutions:  ending violence against young women and girls. 

Every Provincial Youth Office of the Anglican Communion is encouraged to develop a way to lead young people in their dioceses in this conversation. Other people may be invited to have similar conversations apart from the young people.

Each diocese would be asked to assist gatherings of young people to participate in these conversations and to provide a brief report on their discussions and actions.  The report would be referred to the Provincial Youth Office who in turn would send it to the Reverend Douglas Fenton at gdfenton@gmail.com by 30 June 2011.

The reports will be posted to the IAYN page, on the Anglican Communion web site, the United Nations Year of Youth web page, and also presented to the next Provincial Youth Officers’ gathering, Hong Kong, August 2011.

We have chosen this topic, ending violence against young women and girls, for the coming year as it is an issue that affects everyone, especially young people. It builds on what the IAYN has done in the past and connects with the concerns of several other Networks.
In baptism God’s love is declared for each person.  Our baptism reminds us of God’s desire for us to be reconciled to God and each other.  God calls us to love our neighbour as ourself, therefore we must work for justice, freedom and peace for everyone, including young women and girls. We are called to respect the dignity of every human being. Ending violence is part of our baptismal call; our Christian faith.

Eradication of Gender Violence – Ending violence against Young Women and Girls

In all societies women are subjected to emotional, physical, sexual and psychological violence regardless of wealth, class or culture. The focus of this project is to understand how we can end violence against young women and girls.

By following the steps provided we can help young people to understand why and how violence is committed against young women and girls.  We can also help young people to think about what the Bible and our Anglican tradition says about this violence and how to end it.

The Causes of Violence against Young Women and Girls

There are many causes of violence against young women and girls. All of these causes are created by a variety of factors including society, culture, legal systems and ignorance.

Gender Roles

Young women and girls are sometimes taught roles that are submissive to or beneath men.  These roles limit their human dignity.

Here are some other examples of causes:


Poverty limits opportunities for young women and girls in work, health, education, and in their ability to make choices for themselves.


Young women and girls can often be denied equal opportunity to attend school. This is a form of violence used to control them and reinforce their lower status.


Many women cannot protect themselves against HIV/AIDS. They cannot insist on faithfulness from their partner.  They cannot refuse to have sex or demand the use of protection. They often lack power or economic status to remove themselves from situations where they are at a high risk of acquiring HIV/AIDS.

Human Sexuality

Young women and girls are prevented from making decisions about their own sexual identity and activity.

Alcohol and Drug Abuse

Physical violence and sexual abuse are often caused by and a consequence of the abuse of alcohol and drugs.

War and Conflict

Psychological violence is produced by war and conflict. In these situations young women and girls are often the target of sexual violence. Rape is deliberately used as a weapon in war.

You may think of other causes present in your cultural context which you may choose to address as well.

Reflection and Action

A guide to help you think about and act to end violence

This process is offered as a way for young people to look at the issue of violence towards young women and girls in a way that helps them explore the causes of this violence, what the Christian faith has to say about it, and to find ways of taking action to stop it.

This process can be done over five separate meetings as part of an ongoing youth programme. These meetings can be over several weeks or months. They can also be used at a weekend retreat or camp.

Introduction to the process:

There are five steps to this process:

  1. Start by telling stories of your own experience of violence, or stories you have heard or read about. Finish this part by deciding on a Key Question you would like to explore that comes out of these stories.
  2. The second session looks at the Key Question you identified from different points of view. Then look for the connections, values and causes.
  3. Next, you are offered ways of exploring what Christian faith and the Anglican tradition have to say about your Key Question. Look to see where God is in this issue. What would it look like if God’s will were done?
  4. In the fourth session you are invited to ask, “What can we do about this?” and to begin to find ways of joining God in acting to bring about God’s will.
  5. In the fifth session: Celebrate what actions you take and the successes you have.

After you have completed these five steps, you can start again.  Tell the stories of your actions and from that find a new Key Question. In this way we grow in our faith and join God in God’s mission.

The Process
  1. Experience
    • Getting Started:
      1. Group building: make sure everyone knows each other’s names and something about each other.
      2. Introduction: It is helpful for people to know what they will be doing. Explain the five steps of the process using the introduction offered above.
      3. Group contract: It is important that the group agrees on some rules that will help them work together. These rules might include:
        1. respect what each person says
        2. listen to each other
        3. only one person talks at a time
        4. everyone has an opportunity to talk
        5. allow each person to decide if they want to speak or not (don’t pressure them)
    • There may be other rules the group wishes to add.

    • Our Story:
      1. Invite people to tell any stories of their own experience or stories they have heard of any violence against young women and girls.  You may wish to look at the previous section, “The Causes of Violence Against Young Women and Girls” (on page 2), which lists some ways violence is done.  Allow time for everyone to share.
      2. When everyone who wishes has told at least one story, list all the words, images and feelings that came to mind as each told their story and listened to others.
      3. In the list of words, images and feelings what are the central themes or questions that emerge.
      4. As a group find a way to decide on one Key Question. An example of a Key Question might be, “In our community how do young women and girls access education and what stops them?”
    • Preparation for the Next Session:

      To prepare for the next session, briefly introduce the table, “Points of Viewon page 11.  It will be used to discuss your Key Question the next time the group meets.  Assign one point of view to each group member i.e. History, Geography, Social, Economic, Culture or Religion.  Make sure that more than one point of view will be looked at.  Invite them to think about and research the point of view they have been assigned for the next session.

  2. Exploring the context of the question
  3. In this session you are being asked to move from your experience and to find more detailed information about your Key Question. You might want to invite someone who is knowledgeable about one or more of these points of view to come and help you. Be sure to invite them for some (but not all) of your session.
    What other resources have been produced by your church, or by other local or international organizations i.e. Anglican Communion, United Nations? See the list of resources here http://iayn.anglicancommunion.org/resources/documents.cfm. What do these resources have to say about your Key Question?
    Make sure the group has time on its own to hear from each other.  Take note of the responses in terms of feelings and thoughts.

    • See the table “Points of Viewon page 10. Use at least two of the points of view to study your Key Question:
    • Having listened to all the information from the study of your Key Question ask the group: “What is our role in all of this, as a Church, as individuals?”

    Making sense of the information:

    • Look at all the information you have found and make note of the following as they relate to your Key Question:
      1. What are the connections between the various points of view?
      2. What are the values, principles and standards expressed?
      3. What are the causes?
    • In reference to your Key Question you might want to ask the following at any point in your discussion, and especially at the end of this session:
      1. Why is this happening?
      2. What is our place?
      3. How do we see the future?
      4. Where do we see hope?
      5. What resources do we now have as a group?
  4. Reflection on the Christian Faith:

    This is where you ask what the Christian faith and the Anglican tradition have to say about your Key Question. You can explore the bible, church history, liturgy, hymns/songs, and theological writings. You might want to invite someone who has more knowledge than you on these things. Be sure to invite them for some (but not all) of your session.

    What other resources have been produced by your church, or by other local or international organizations? See the list of resources here http://iayn.anglicancommunion.org/index.cfm.

    What do these resources have to say about your Key Question?

    Make sure the group has time on its own to hear from each other.

    Exploring the Christian Faith:

    • What Bible stories do you know that address your Key Question?  What did Jesus say? You can use a concordance to help you.
      1. Some creative ways to hear the Bible include:
        1. Act out the reading as it is read
        2. Role play or interview the people in the story.
        3. Explore the reading from the point of view of all the people involved, how they felt, what they thought, what they thought of Jesus?
      2. What are some paintings, images or movies that you know of about this story.
      3. What does your local church say? What does your provincial church say? What does the worldwide church say? What does your prayer book say?
    • Having explored what the Bible and Anglican tradition have to say about your Key Question, consider the following:
      1. Where is God in what we have explored?
      2. How is God acting and with whom?
      3. What stops us from experiencing God’s presence?
      4. What are ten sources of sorrow?  Where do we need to confess our sins?
      5.  What are ten sources of joy that celebrate God’s presence with us?
    • Develop a Vision:

    • Develop a vision of what it would be like for young women and girls if God’s will were done.
  5. Response:

    Now is the time to make a response.  It is important that your group decide on at least one action and has some clear steps about how to achieve it.

    What other resources have been produced by your church, or by other local or international organizations? See the list of resources here http://iayn.anglicancommunion.org/index.cfm. What actions do these resources suggest?

    Make sure your group has time to hear what the young people think so they can commit to act.

    You identified your Key Question in Session 1. Then you reflected on the context in Session 2 and Christian faith and Anglican tradition in Session 3. Now consider the following:

    • How is what you learned in these sessions connected?
    • What is similar?
    • What is different?
    • What do they say to each other?
    • The following steps will help you decide on at least one action in response to your Key Question. Remember you are invited to work with God to end violence against young women and girls.

    • Brainstorm some ways you could respond. Here are some questions to help you choose from your brainstorm list:
      1. Who is it for?
      2. What is most important and what is possible?
      3. Who loses or gains by addressing this issue?
      4. Is your focus helping victims of violence or is it preventing violence?
      5. Who else is already doing this work? Are there ways you can work together?
      6. Will God’s will be done through this response?
    • Once you have decided what you are going to do:
      1. Clearly state what you hope to achieve by this action (choose something that is possible for your group to accomplish).
      2. List the ways in which you will achieve it.
      3. Name the practical steps.
      4. Identify the timeline.
      5. Assign tasks to individuals.
      6. Midway check in: is the action on track (what needs to be changed)?
      7. Evaluate your action. Did you accomplish what you set out to do? What could you have done differently? What have you learned? What will you celebrate?
    • This celebration might include creating a liturgy. This celebration should include a place where those involved in this Reflection and Action process can tell their stories (what they have done and what it was like for them).
    • Think about who should be invited to the celebration. Recall your Key Question and the action your group did in response to it.  Invite those who were touched by your action and all those who have supported you in this process.
    • After the stories have been told the process can begin again.  Use these stories to identify a new Key Question.

Points of View Table

      • History- What has happened up to this point as it relates to your Key Question.
      • Geography – What is happening in your community? Compare it to what is happening in another place. What are differences and why it different?
  • What effect does the environment have e.g. weather, transport etc?
  • What effect does this have on the environment e.g. war, mining, deforestation, pollution etc?
      • Social – what does your society say about your Key Question?
  • What is the role of education?
  • How are the roles of men, women and children described?
  • How are these roles taught by families and parents, and what part does that play?
  • What do the laws say?
  • What role does health play? How is that a cause and how is it a consequence?
  • What is said in the media? What would people in the community say?
  • Who is being discriminated against? Who is discriminating?


      • Economic – what is the role of money in your Key Question?
  • Who is making the money?
  • Who is being forced to make different choices because of a lack of money?
  • What are the issues relating to work e.g. Who has paid work, who does not have paid work?


      • Culture – what does your culture have to say about your Key Question, such as: observable behaviours and customs, institutions and values?
  • How does your culture respect the role of young women and girls?
  • How does your culture limit them?


      • Religion – what does the Anglican Tradition say about your Key Question?
  • What do other religions say about your Key Question?
  • What do the Holy Books say?
  • What do the religious leaders say?