Page 16 - PC_Fall2020
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FALL 2020
Faith as a Competency in Development
 By Guy Smagghe, PWS&D Director
I am sometimes asked what makes PWS&D different from other organi- zations dedicated to development and relief work.
Aside from being governed by a committee representing Canadian Presbyterians from coast to coast, working through locally based church and non-church partners in the poor- est countries and communities on our planet, leveraging resources and collaborations ecumenically through ACT Alliance, Canadian Foodgrains Bank and KAIROS, PWS&D is a faith- based agency and this helps to bring about sustainable results.
As a matter of fact, faith is con- sidered a competency in develop- ment—taking faith into account when planning development and relief work is a way to achieve bet- ter results. Faith traditions in general may hinder or enhance development results, but by engaging faith leaders in the process we can aspire to affect behavioural change most effectively.
This is not about proselytizing or attempting to convert anyone to any particular religion, but rather rec- ognizing the integral part that faith, and the hope that it offers, plays in the lives of the people we serve. In most places, faith is the lens through which people see the world. Faith leaders, in turn, have moral authority and can shape people’s opinions.
In Latin America, for example, ACT Alliance members train pastors so that they can speak prophetically about gender-based violence issues and address practices that go against the tenets of the faith, resulting in fewer incidences of violence against women.
In Ghana, PWS&D supports the Presbyterian Church in Ghana’s min- istry to protect women wrongly ac- cused of witchcraft. Working with church and local leaders, commu- nities learn about human rights and that illness need not be equated with witchcraft, but rather attended to with the love and compassion that Chris- tians are called to demonstrate.
When it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic, churches and faith com- munities are called to lead in raising awareness for prevention, countering stigma and discrimination, and sup- porting one another in this time of challenge.
Recognizing the central role that church leaders and faith-based or- ganizations are playing in response to the pandemic, ACT Alliance places a high priority on engaging with and empowering church and faith leaders in combatting the coronavirus. Part of this means ensuring that local faith leaders are resourced and equipped to put proper practices in place.
When asked for one word that comes to mind when hearing peo- ple talk about faith and development, participants in a recent forum men- tioned hope more often than any other word. People of faith have hope in challenging times.
As people of faith, let us do what we can to help bring about hope. Let us pray for faith leaders in the com- munities that we serve so that they
In Ghana, faith leaders help to reconcile relationships between women accused of witchcraft and their local communities.
 By Rachel Warden
Partnerships Manager at KAIROS
These days in Canada we often hear the phrase “We’re stronger together.” But stronger how? And who, precise- ly, are “we”?
COVID-19 has exposed the vulner- ability of certain communities and, in my work with Indigenous Peoples, migrant workers and women peace- builders, I have learned that we are only as strong as the most vulnerable among us.
Indeed, this is echoed in the Just Recovery Principles recently launched by more than 150 civil so- ciety groups, which state: “In a glo- balized world, what happens to one of us matters to all of us.”
While Canada’s financial assis- tance is understandably focused on national recovery, there is also a need to increase global assistance, especially to human rights defend- ers and women peacebuilders, if we want to emerge from this pandemic as a more just, peaceful and sustain- able world.
For example, KAIROS’ women, peace and security partners in Co- lombia, the Philippines, West Bank, South Sudan and the Democratic Re- public of Congo have been laying the groundwork for just and sustainable peace for years, for decades in some
A woman in South Kivu, DR Congo, washes her hands as a COVID-19 precaution dur- ing a KAIROS Women, Peace and Security program-related meeting. PHOTO CREDIT: HÉRITIERS DE LA JUSTICE.
military repression and human rights violations targeted at women who are traditional community leaders.
In response to COVID-19, these women peacebuilders are creatively adapting their programs to reach marginalized women and ensure their voices are heard. Our partners are using the Internet to reach as many communities as possible to train women community leaders, even in remote areas. They educate them about the virus and how to stop its spread, and deliver food and other critical supplies.
And, significantly, they have not stopped advocating for peace. Our partners teach us that when women victims of violence are provided with the services and care needed to heal, restore dignity and claim their rights, including psychosocial and legal support, and human rights training, they become active peacebuilders and human rights defenders them- selves. Their voices are essential to building sustainable peace.
Canada recognizes the importance of these grassroots women peace- builders. Canada’s Feminist Inter- national Assistance Policy (FIAP) identifies gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls as the best way to eradicate poverty and build a more peaceful, inclusive and equitable world.
And yet, FIAP has been under- funded since its inception, in part because Canada’s official develop- ment assistance (ODA) funding, at 0.26 percent, has been well below the international standard of 0.7 per- cent Gross National Income (GNI), much lower than countries such as Norway, which invests 0.94 percent of GNI.
Some may argue that Canada can- not afford to increase its ODA. But if we really believe that we are “in this together” and “stronger together,” if we are listening to vulnerable com- munities in Canada and around the world, Canada cannot afford not to. If Canada wants to remain a credible advocate and key player in global multilateralism, we must back up our words with financial commit- ments as other progressive nations have done.
Women peacebuilders and other essential workers provide us with a glimmer of hope, a way forward based on the well-being, health, safe- ty and peace for all. Right now, they need Canada’s financial and political support. And we need their strength to heal from this pandemic—together.
*Excerpted from an article published on the KAIROS website. PWS&D pro- vides ongoing support to KAIROS’ women, peace and security project.
can be most effective in bringing about the behaviours needed to en- sure that God’s love and peace may
prevail. Let us continue to pray for and support those who are most in need of hope in these times.
  Women Peacebuilders Key to Just Recovery
 cases. They work with a number of the world’s most vulnerable commu- nities at this time when these vulner-
abilities have increased, especially for women. All report an increase in gender-based violence, including

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