ELCA Advocacy is a ministry in our wider church that advocates for those that are often left unrepresented. ELCA Advocacy never supports individuals or politicians, but utilizes the Social Statements founded in the theology of the ELCA as a basis to help those in need, to love the stranger, and to serve in the way Jesus taught. ELCA advocacy focuses narrowly on the issues that matter to us as people of faith; it does not focus on politics and the inner workings of governments. Instead, it focuses on what we value as a people, how we treat all God’s creation, and how we can change systems and establish bills/laws/policies that better reflect our ethical and spiritual obligations.
THE CAMPAIGN AGAINST GENDER BASED VIOLENCE
One thing that the ELCA is advocating for right now is helping those suffering from gender based violence. Gender-based violence increases during conflict and humanitarian crises. The United Nations reports that 1 in 5 refugees or internally displaced women living in humanitarian crisis have experienced sexual abuse. In conflict situations gender-based violence is sometimes used as a weapon of war. Initiatives such as the U.S. Safe from the Start, which H.R. 571 codifies, and the Global Call to Action on Protection from Gender-based Violence in Emergencies, a multilateral initiative to advance the transformational change that ensures priority attention to the needs and rights of women and girls and gender-based violence survivors in humanitarian action, have moved this issue at the forefront of humanitarian work. It is crucial to ensure that this transformative work continues.
A bipartisan group of legislators in the House of Representatives has introduced the Safe from the Start Act of 2021 (H.R. 571) to prevent gender-based violence and provide early interventions at the onset of humanitarian emergencies. Introduced by Representatives Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Grace Meng (D-NY), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Chris Stewart (R-UT), and Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), the Safe from the Start Act will codify the Safe from the Start initiative currently administered by the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Aid (USAID). This initiative provides training, toolkits, and other resources to mitigate risks for gender-based violence and improves humanitarian workers’ ability to address needs of those impacted by gender-based violence in humanitarian situations. The bill enhances partnerships with local organizations to increase capacity and institutes congressional accountability measures.
As Christians we believe all human beings are made in the image of God. Gender-based violence rejects the created goodness and dignity that God gives to every human creature, and as the ELCA social message on “Gender-based Violence” says, “As a church we recognize and deplore the horrific suffering caused by gender-based violence globally.”
Please take a moment to urge your Representative to co-sponsor the Safe from the Start Act of 2021 at the ELCA Action Center.