Yesterday marked International Women's Day 2017, a celebration of women around the world and a commemoration of the movement for women's rights. Today, we'd like to ask you to pray for our work with women in North Africa - take a look at this short video as an introduction:
Something that has particularly struck me about our women's work is that it promotes women supporting other women. Through our Nisa'a website, North African women are writing articles for their fellow North African women. When we recently wanted to create short films for our Nisa'a website, we invited the readers to submit their own scripts, which we then made into films. Many of our women's training courses, day events and media departments are also run by women, and we seek to train key women in the community to pass on their training to others.
Sadly, this works the other way too - often the discrimination women face, including child marriage and human trafficking, can be at the hands of other women. Many have internalised the dominant view that they are inferior to men, and actually we have found some women even get upset when they are told they are equal to a man! This story, from one of our recent human trafficking seminars, illustrates the way women's deeply held views can sometimes be an obstacle to their own freedom:
"In our trafficking project, our female trainer goes to the villages and sits with very poor and illiterate mothers and grandmothers. She attempts to shake their deeply rooted cultural beliefs, and challenges the practice of forcing young girls to get married... She does an amazing job. Sometimes these workshops go very smoothly, but other times she gets all sorts of opposition. One time a group of village women totally rejected what she was saying and stood up and left suddenly! These mothers have a genuinely deep belief that they are doing the right thing - they consider themselves to be protecting their girls from the unknown by getting them a husband who will protect them. What a lie, right?!
Anyway, in one of these workshops an old mother at the end of the day came up to our trainer with crying eyes, pat her on the shoulder and said "if only you had come to us one month ago, I wouldn't have forced my young daughter to marry." This broke our hearts, because we were late and could have saved this girl if we had known or if we were there before the decision was made. How many other girls can our team help save if we had the resources?"
Please pray for our women's work:
- Pray for the staff in our North Africa team, who have a real heart for giving women a voice of their own and showing them their value to God. A lot of our work is created by women and for women, which makes it even more impactful. Pray that our staff would know what is on God's heart for the women of North Africa and the Middle East, and that they would continue to communicate boldly.
- Please pray for every woman who comes across our media, reads our Nisa'a website, watches our videos, or attends our training courses! Pray that God would be speaking into their hearts through everything we do, and that he would reveal himself to them.
- Thank God for the work are teams are doing with women, particularly in rural areas, to challenge the dominant cultural view of women and their worth, and to prevent human trafficking and child marriage. Pray that they would start to get through to these women and that attitudes on these key issues would start to change.
- Thank God that we are already seeing a shift in heart attitudes among the women we are reaching - that they are realising their true worth and equality.