Zambian churches declare war on GBV

Zambian churches declare war on GBV

Date: October 7, 2011
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The Three Church Mother Bodies in Zambia which have long been united in speaking out on various injustices in early 2010 came together and developed a commitment to root out gender based violence and inequality through “the Zambian Church Declaration on Gender Injustice and Gender Based Violence”. They recognised that gender inequalities, imbalances and gender based violence do exist within the churches.

According to the Norwegian Church Aid News, the Leaders of the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia, the Council of Churches in Zambia, and the Zambia Episcopal Conference committed their member churches to working for gender justice in the various decision-making structures within the churches and the rest of society. They also committed themselves to gender mainstreaming in their institutions.

This followed wide consultations within the church and government on the position of the church on gender based violence (GBV) and gender justice in Zambia. The declaration aimed at promoting the attainment of gender equity and equality within church structures, operations and practices in society.

The churches started by conducting research that established that a larger sector of respondents in churches did not understand the definition of gender, and interpreted the scriptures in ways that reinforce the Churches patriarchal culture. The research also found that some church members go into church with a heavy backlog of cultural/traditional practices perpetuating gender injustice.

Through the declaration, the churches committed to:

  • The provision of a vision on gender equity and equality in the church.
  • Reflecting on and challenging any form of injustice existing in the church and take appropriate actions for transformation.
  • The formulation of a clear church gender policy framework accompanied by strategies, with frame and allocation of responsibilities.
  • Mainstreaming gender in strategic plans, monitoring and evaluation of programmes and projects.
  • Adoption of a Biblical based approach in addressing GBV and any other form of gender inequality.
  • Involvement in advocacy activities related to GBV, equity and equality.
  • Influencing policy documents and procedures in the church to be gender sensitive.
  • Ensuring that church activities contributes to the empowerment of women and changing in equitable gender relations.
  • Allocating adequate financial resources for the implementation of the gender policy framework and earmarking funds explicitly for gender related activities.
  • Ensuring ownership of gender policy at all levels by all members especially leaders.
  • Training leaders in gender and GBV-related matters at all levels in the church.
  • Ensuring that data in our documents is gender disaggregated.
  • Affirmative action is used, with special measures aimed at creating a state of equity and equality between females and males.
  • Economically empowering women so that they are able to make informed and independent decisions and;
  • Ensuring that the current Constitution making process includes the economic, social and cultural rights in the Bill of Rights of the new constitution and that such discriminatory provisions in Article 23 are removed from the republican constitution among other commitments.

The programme targets lay leaders that included pastors, priests, parish leaders, evangelists and community women, men, boys and girls especially from their membership. This is being achieved through consultative meetings, research, disseminating the declaration by three mother body churches; working with other stakeholders to implement the initiative; gender training of trainers (producing of teaching manuals); consultation with other churches that are not yet part of the declaration and developing gender policies in churches.

The main challenges are that members of the church still have misunderstandings on the word gender, misinterpretation of scriptures on gender, not all churches have come on board and that traditional cultural practices in churches are too hard to break.

Results of the ground work are becoming evident. Discriminating tendencies against women slowing being done away with some churches have started to give high positions to women and women are also allowed to preach just like their male counterparts. Churches are already reaching out to many people through their preaching and training programmes and those that were already trained are being retrained in gender issues. Not yet very clear since the evaluation of the declaration impact will be done at the end

The church is supplementing government effort in fighting gender violence and gender injustice which will contribute to realisation of the key GBV provisions of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development.

This initiative can be replicated by other countries with countries like Angola showing a willingness to learn from the Zambian experience. Other churches like the Seventh Day Adventists (SDA) which are not part of the declaration have shown willingness to come.


One thought on “Zambian churches declare war on GBV”


The women throughout Africa have diverse experiences of patriachy in church and society. It is the right time men and women work together to root out GBV and inequality. Currently the United Church of Zambia wihcih is one of a member of Council of Churches in Zambia and the largest Protestant churche in Zambia has the highest gender inequality. All the ten provinces except one has Bishops who are men. There is always a lame excuse given by male clergy that women do not support each other but what are the men doing to root out this inequality and encourage women to take up these highest positions in the church? As a mother body, CCZ should engage the its members to stamp out this injustice.

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