16 Days: “The choice to end violence against women starts with you.”

Cassandra Mok, CAFOD’s Country Rep for Cambodia & Myanmar, shares her thoughts on why violence against women and girls is such an important issue.

16-Days-Cambodia
Men in Cambodia wearing white ribbons, a symbol of solidarity against gender-based violence.

A friend of mine once confided that her high school boyfriend used to hit her and drag her around by the hair. It surprised me, as I always saw her as this clever, articulate and powerful woman. I asked her why she put up with it for so many years. After explaining that both her parents used to beat her in anger, she simply stated: “Everyone who loved me hit me. So I believed that if someone loved you, they hit you.”

Learn more about CAFOD’s work on gender

Gender-based violence affects both men and women, boys and girls. It affects the family as well as the society we share. Violence is not solely about personal safety, it’s about how we communicate our emotions and how we resolve conflict. Children learn how they should treat others and how they deserve to be treated from those around them. Growing up in a violent situation makes it a norm. These children grow into adults with conceptions on how to interact with each other and with expectations that it’s normal to hit or to be hit.

Continue reading “16 Days: “The choice to end violence against women starts with you.””

16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence 2015

Montserrat Fernández, Programme Officer for Central America, has been working against gender-based violence for 22 years. On the first day of the global 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign she shares her thoughts on why violence against women and girls is such an important issue, and what motivated her to act.

My experience of gender-based violence

Montse has been working against gender-based violence for 22 years.
Montse has been working against gender-based violence for 22 years.

I belong to the 35 per cent of women worldwide who have experienced either physical or sexual violence at some point in our lives. At 20 years old, I was living in Barcelona and studying teaching. One day, while travelling to teach at a primary school, I was raped.

I went to the police station to denounce the attack but there were no police women at that time, in the 80s, in Barcelona. The policeman who took my testimony got red face as I described what had happened. My parents then accompanied me to another police station to look through photos of all rapists in Barcelona, to see if I could recognise my aggressor. He was not in the police photo albums, but my neighbour, the son of one of my parents’ friends, was.

I decided to denounce the attack because I didn’t want the young girls who were going to the primary school to have the kind of bad experience I was facing. Today, in Nicaragua where I work, I know that girls going to school in rural areas are facing similar experiences on the way to school or even inside their schools. Because of this, some girls decide to drop out of school.

Continue reading “16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence 2015”

CAFOD staff’s tips for how to lobby your MP

Ffion Dean is the CAFOD Web Editor. Speak Up for the Love Of will be her first lobby and the first time she’s met her local MP.

Ffion with bunting
Ffion getting ready for the lobby with her bunting.

Climate change is an issue which really concerns me. It’s going to cause problems for lots of things I care about from spring flowers to people overseas living in harsh climates. I signed up to meet my MP at the climate change event on 17 June as soon as I heard about it. Using the form on the CAFOD website I also emailed my MP to make sure he would be there.

Last week he emailed back to say he’d be available to meet me. And then I got scared.

I’ve never met him before and I don’t know what his views are on climate change. What if he’s a climate change denier and we argue all afternoon? What if he asks me difficult questions? What if he’s not very nice to me?

Badger my MP
Susy is going to keep contacting her MP until she gets a response

Fortunately I received the Climate Coalition briefing guide today with tips on what to say to my MP and I also work in a building with lots of experienced campaigners. Here is some of their advice.

Try and get your MP to come

Use the form on the CAFOD website to tell your MP you’d like to meet them at Speak Up for the Love Of. If you don’t hear back try another way of getting in touch – phone their office or tweet them. Continue reading “CAFOD staff’s tips for how to lobby your MP”

Climate campaign: Your guide to making bunting

Nuns make bunting for CAFOD climate campaignSarah works in CAFOD’s campaigns team.

As mum to two small girls, I’m used to spending my time cutting and sticking. But it’s not so often that this is part of my day job at CAFOD.

Yet, after a day spent reflecting on care for creation with two communities of Sisters and other campaigners, I was surrounded by glue and coloured paper, making bunting.

On Wednesday 17 June, I’ll be joining thousands of people at Parliament to call on our MPs for action on climate change, for the love of creation and for our neighbours.

Join us. Sign up for Speak Up For The Love Of on 17 June now

It’s not doom and gloom, but a day to celebrate our beautiful world and our desire to protect it. Which is where the bunting comes in.

Groups will bring home-made bunting to the event to show their MPs the reasons we care about climate change. Continue reading “Climate campaign: Your guide to making bunting”

Ask an election question: challenging my candidates on poverty

Ask an election question at hustingsSusan works in CAFOD’s Education team. This blog was written just before the 2015 UK general election.

I have a confession to make. Despite years of working for CAFOD and writing to my MP about social justice, I had never attended a hustings meeting of election candidates in my constituency until this month.

Email your candidates  during the 2017 general election campaign with a question on poverty and climate change.

My parish, the Church of the Transfiguration in Kensal Rise, decided to host a hustings for the first time this year. The parish is on the border of two particularly interesting constituencies.

Hampstead and Kilburn is the most marginal seat in the country. Glenda Jackson won in 2010 with a majority of only 42. She is standing down this year, as is Sarah Teather, who has been my constituency MP. She had a slightly higher majority, but this is still the 51st marginal seat. So there’s a lot to play for!

We had a great turn-out, from the candidates – almost all of whom came – and the audience, there were a mix of parishioners and other local community members.  Continue reading “Ask an election question: challenging my candidates on poverty”

CAFOD campaigner? Don’t be shy, reply

clifton heartsSarah works in CAFOD’s Campaigns Team.

Every month, we email CAFOD campaigners – maybe you’re one of them – to share news, feed back on progress and offer new ways in which we need your help.

What do you do when that CAFOD email lands in your inbox? Do you set to and take action? Do you skim through? Do you forward to your friends? Do you delete straightaway? Or do you click reply?

In recent weeks, as our climate change campaign gathers pace, we’ve been receiving lots of replies and emails from you. Some sharing stories of your campaign events, some asking questions, some telling us how we should or shouldn’t communicate.

Fill in our 2 minute campaign survey and tell us what you think 

The big questions

Every one of these emails makes me stop and think. They reconnect me with what we are doing and why. They remind me that, without the support of countless parishes and individuals across England and Wales, our campaigns would make little difference.  Continue reading “CAFOD campaigner? Don’t be shy, reply”