As the world marks International Women’s Day, World Council of Churches (WCC) Deputy General Secretary Prof. Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri has offered reflections on “Women, Pain, and Resilience from the African and ecumenical perspective.”
The meeting was organized by the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organisations in collaboration with the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
Phiri detailed how, across the African continent, injustices and gender-based violence against women increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, she said, in Cameroon, “almost 80% of employees in the agricultural sector are women. Additionally, she said, they comprise 83% of Cameroon’s informal economy; making them the highest at risk group for COVID-19 infections and collateral damage to the impoverished and war-impacted economy.
“Many were forced to find alternate means of survival, some to the extreme of coerced undesirable relationships,” she said. “In Burkina Faso, stories are told of rural women feeling imprisoned in their village subsequent to the pandemic restrictions.”
However, despite the challenges faced, African women of all religions remain resilient in the face of untold and unexpected setbacks, Phiri said.