HIV and AIDS
The crucial issue of HIV and AIDS touches every sphere of life within our communities. All programmes therefore include relevant aspects of this in their work.
UNAIDS estimated that the South African HIV prevalence was 17.8% among 15-49 year olds at the end of 2009. This implies that around 5.6 million South Africans were living with HIV at the end of 2009, including 300,000 children under 15 years old. The results of this study also suggest that KwaZulu-Natal has the highest HIV prevalence. Here the pandemic is wreaking havoc.
Diakonia’s approach has been both awareness-raising and preventive, as well as empowering churches to be channels of hope in response to HIV and AIDS. Since 2004 Diakonia Council of Churches has, under the international theme for World AIDS Day, prepared a resource book to help local congregations and groups make good use of the fact that almost all churches now mark World AIDS Day on 1st December or a Sunday near that date.
As the effects of ongoing and escalating crime and violence are felt within our communities, we remain constantly aware of opportunties to address the hurt as well as the root causes of this social malady.
Advocacy is an important aspect of the work we do and is a vital component to each of the programmes. Advocacy efforts are aimed at promoting the prophetic voice of the church, especially in eThekwini.
Children, youth and women
The gender justice aspect of our work seeks to work for a world where injustice is a thing of the past. A combination of traditional interpretation of the scriptures and some traditional cultural practises intensify the plight of women. Diakonia strives to change the attitudes of our constituency towards women.
It is estimated that In South Africa, a woman is raped every 15 seconds
16 DAYS OF ACTIVISM AGAINST GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE
The campaign against violence on women is held every year from 25 November to 10 December to highlight and protest against the high levels of abuse of women in our society.
THURSDAYS IN BLACK CAMPAIGN
Thursdays in Black Campaign has its roots in groups such as Mothers of the Disappeared in Argentina, Black Sash in South Africa and the Women in Black movements in Bosnia and Israel. Thursdays in Black, as a human rights campaign, was started by the World Council of Churches during the 1980’s as a peaceful protest against rape and violence – the by-products of war and conflict. The campaign focuses on ways that individuals can challenge attitudes that cause rape and violence.
This campaign, which was launched in South Africa by the Diakonia Council of Churches during the 16 Days of Activism Campaign at the end of 2008, is an ongoing drive to raise awareness and encourage people to work towards a world without rape and violence against women and children.
We encourage local churches to join hands with people around the world by wearing black on Thursdays to indicate that we are tired of putting up with rape and violence in our communities and that we have a desire for a community where we can all walk safely without fear of being beaten up, verbally abused, raped, of being discriminated against due to one’s gender or sexual orientation.
Wearing black on Thursdays highlights the unacceptably high levels of abuse against women in our society.
The response has been positive and many people, both women and men, have committed themselves to wearing black on Thursdays. This is an outward sign of mourning and of standing in solidarity with women who have died at the hands of their partners and signifies a desire to make a difference in our world.
The buttons have been distributed at various workshops, where gender-based violence is addressed and where the links between HIV infection and gender injustice are stressed. The members of the Self Help Groups are being empowered to understand the implications of gender-based violence and many of them appreciate the opportunity of wearing black on Thursdays to highlight this debilitating scourge in our rural communities.
Various churches have distributed the buttons and information leaflets at their Synods and other gatherings of church leaders. In the past three years approximately 6,000 buttons and flyers have been distributed – some as far afield as Cape Town. Diakonia Council of Churches’ website promoted the campaign during the 16 Days of Activism Campaign and this additional source of information solicited much interest.
In recent months Women’s Manyano Organisations have promoted the Thursdays in Black Campaign to raise awareness on ‘Violence Against Women’ (and Children).
If you would like more information about the Thursdays in Black Campaign or would like someone to address your church or organisation on this topic, please contact the Diakonia Council of Churches office on  310-3500.
Women in Ministry
Diakonia Council of Churches regularly hosts events, particularly for women in ministry as this is one aspect of gender justice that still needs our full support. Churches still struggle to treat women ministers equally and the challenges they face are often very different to those experienced by male clergy. Women in Ministry meet at least twice a year to discuss topical issues and how they affect women.
We also run at least two gender workshops a year that link the issues of gender and gender violence with HIV and AIDS.
With the levels of poverty going up, South African young people are increasingly being drawn into the world of drugs, crime and prostitution. Yet, the youth are the future of our country. It is imperative that we address the needs of the youth and educate them so that they become responsible citizens.
Diakonia provides platform for the youth to meet and share their challenges. Workshops are also conducted where they learn about their rights, HIV and AIDS, life and income-generating skills.
In June 2011, the Diakonia Youth Forum was officially launched. The Forum brings youth from the member churches and organisations together, to actively participate in social justice issues.