Women “Empty the Basket of Pain” at J&P Conference
Durban archdiocese’s Justice & Peace Commission hosted a large women’s conference. Participants came from different parishes across the archdiocese, including a women’s-issues group from Pietermaritzburg. The conference was attended by 100 women in total, with ages ranging from 21 to 70.
It was facilitated by Bridget “Mama B” Phillips from the Institute of Healing of Memories, and Cyril Mwandla from the Diakonia Council of Churches.
A Safe Space to Share Challenges
According to Kalie Senyane, archdiocesan J&P coordinator, the conference’s objectives were to create a safe space for all women to share the challenges they face on a daily basis; to help women “empty the basket of pain”; to “awaken women to actively participating in community development in order to enable them to deal with their various challenges”; and to empower other women in their communities.
Participants listed as problem areas anger, being “forced to play my late mother’s role at home”, peer pressure, being a single parent, and being called “barren” when they have no children from their marriages.
Facing Pain From Within Family and Society
They also described further problem areas: betrayal, feeling a failure when constantly being compared to others, insecurity, fear, illness and disability, physical pain, professional jealousy, abuse in society, drug and substance abuse, domestic abuse, struggling with forgiveness, bitterness, discrimination, divorcee, death, disrespect, and being discriminated against by in-laws.
The conference suggested that the Church and society can help empower women in our local communities by:
- Creating support structures within the Church and in communities.
- Creating safe spaces for women to be able to walk freely without fear of being raped.
- Speaking out courageously about violence against women.
- Making the 16 Days of Activism an official national Church or metropolitan event.
- Empowering and affirming women.
- Loving, respecting and embracing women
- Supporting women for top positions within the Church.