LWF celebrates International Women’s Day 2019

LWF Communion Office staff marked the 2019 International Women’s Day by taking part in activities on gender justice. This included quizzes, book presentations and reflections from General Secretary Rev. Dr Martin Junge. Photo: LWF/S. Gallay

Staff in Geneva office take part in program of activities to raise awareness around gender justice in the workplace

(LWI) - How much do men and women in your workplace know about their rights and responsibilities towards ensuring a gender balanced environment, free from all forms of harassment or abuse?

In order to raise awareness around gender justice The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Communion Office marked International Women’s Day 2019 with a program of prayer, team games, quizzes, a book presentation and a reflection from General Secretary Rev. Dr Martin Junge. He invited staff, member churches and country programs to be bold and courageous in the endeavor to seek and secure just relationships. “We won’t stop in our journey, but continue moving forward. Gender justice is for us a matter of being coherent with our faith."

The 8 March celebrations were organised by a team of colleagues led by the LWF Gender Focal Group and were designed to create entertaining, interactive and safe spaces where staff could reflect on their own responsibilities to defend women’s human rights, consider masculinities, combat stereotypes, abuse or gender-based violence in their everyday life and work.

Joint ecumenial worship service

The morning began with a joint worship service, together with World Council of Churches (WCC) staff in Geneva’s Ecumenical Center Chapel. The liturgy included celebratory singing and dancing, as well as sombre reflections and prayers for women suffering from discrimination, exploitation, injustice and abuse.

A new handbook on Women’s Human Rights was also presented, ahead of its official launch later in the year. The publication contains a collection of articles drawn from presentations at a recent Women’s Human Rights Advocacy Training for Faith-Based Organizations.

Participants then took part in quizzes, team games and other activities focused on different aspects of women’s rights, including LWF’s Gender Justice policy and Code of Conduct, discussion of masculinities through images and different understanding, and how to combat sexual and/ or gender-based violence in the workplace and other contexts.

Gender Justice Policy

Since the LWF Council approved a Gender Justice Policy in 2013, the LWF has remained committed to implementing it fully across its communion of churches in 99 countries worldwide. The LWF Code of Conduct was published two years later, requiring all staff to sign, outlining obligations to prevent all forms of sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment, as well as unethical business practises.

LWF Program Executive, Rev. Judith VanOsdol commented: “We are excited about these activities, which has been a real team effort, underscoring the question: what kind of workspace and community environments are we called to construct together? Different aspects of the day such as the launch of the Women’s Human Rights handbook, masculinity dialogue, combating Sexual and Gender Based Violence, among other areas, underscore that Gender Justice is the work of everyone, and depends upon the commitment, creativity, passion and work of all to bring about just, safe, transformative churches and communities. Transformational change begins with individual commitment.”

LWF’s Gender Focal Point for its World Service department, Anne Caroline Tveoy, urged staff in all local churches and country programs to “bring out the Code of Conduct, discuss it with your team, with your peers, to make sure that we all walk our talk and do our bit to combat sexual and gender-based violence in our everyday life and work.”