Many women have shared harrowing stories of violence and abuse using the hashtag #aminext on social media and this website, and gender-based violence (GBV) in South Africa has been described as the “second pandemic”. The Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa (UPCSA) has added its voice to those calling for an end to GBV in all three countries the UPCSA is active in, and has gone further this year to draw attention to the plight of vulnerable communities, so that they can live in safety and with dignity, according to UPCSA Moderator Rt Rev Dr Peter Langerman.

In the Moderator’s November letter to the congregations, he outlined the UPCSA’s plans in observing the 16 Days of Activism Against GBV starting from 25 November to 10 December (International Human Rights Day). A theological statement against GBV and a pre-recorded service will be released on multiple platforms on 25 November, also the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. This will be followed by a daily devotional for all 16 days.

The Health and Wellness Committee will present a webinar for World Aids Day on 1 December, and the Church in Society Committee will host a webinar for PWDs and the “Count Me In Campaign – Fight against GBV” for the International Day of People Living with Disabilities on 3 December. The Gender Desk will then host “Men Confronting Patriarchy”, a follow-up webinar on 5 December. Finally, the Youth Desk will host a webinar to discuss the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

These events, the UPCSA leadership hope, will be catalysts for the churches to desire to serve the vulnerable in their communities, said Rt Rev Dr Langerman. Even though these upcoming events relate to numerous issues, he encouraged them to not be overwhelmed by the size and scope of the challenge, and all the needs to be met. Whether it is gender justice, or HIV/AIDS, or disability awareness or youth development, one can make a difference in this time of activism by focusing on the one thing that can be done for one person in need, he added.