Faith Leaders in Mali Unite Against Gender-Based Violence
In Mali, faith leaders, who play an important role in the day-to-day lives of most Malians, wield significant influence over sociocultural practices that impact health. Traditionally, these leaders have been reticent to endorse advocacy efforts aimed at curbing practices of gender-based violence (GBV). In a country where 45 percent of women report having experienced violence since age 15, engaging faith leaders in prevention efforts is an essential part of improving gender relations and fostering a more favorable environment for women and girls.
Mali has made significant strides toward this goal by successfully advocating to faith leaders to support the abandonment of GBV and related practices. In December 2019, HP+ supported Mali’s National Program for the Abandonment of GBV to inform representatives from the Alliance of Muslim and Christian Religious Leaders (ALRMC) about the detrimental consequences of GBV within their communities. Equipped with this knowledge, the faith leaders felt compelled to act. Subsequently, with HP+ support, the ALRMC revised its organizational bylaws to include working against GBV.
Following this change in mandate, HP+, with the National Program for the Abandonment of GBV, supported a workshop to strengthen partnerships between GBV stakeholders and unite them in working to create an enabling environment to end the practice. These stakeholders—comprising representatives from local organizations, government, and faith leaders—shared their experiences in the field and discussed potential joint actions for future collaborations. As part of these efforts, the ALRMC has decided to create an advocacy campaign grounded in religious texts. HP+ is supporting the leaders to develop materials based on Christian and Islamic texts to advocate within their communities to end these harmful practices and to communicate and partner with political leaders about the importance of ending GBV.
The faith leaders’ decision to revise their organizational mandate, collaborate with government and civil society stakeholders, and create advocacy materials aimed at ending GBV are critically important steps in Mali’s efforts to address its high rate of violence. These community-led initiatives are an essential component of contributing to a favorable policy environment with the ultimate goal of adopting a national law against GBV and improving the lives of all Malians.