From One Event to Another


From the African Leadership Summit to the IRF Summit

One month ago the International Religious Freedom Roundtable Africa Working Group and the International Religious Freedom Roundtable Women’s Working Group hosted the only Africa Leadership Summit event focusing on women and freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief. Panelists  from Cameroon, Congo, Nigeria and Uganda discussed the multitude of gender specific IRF violations that women across Africa are subjected to on a daily basis, and why this intersectional narrative is imperative. where gender-based religious freedom violations manifest in the form of kidnappings/abductions, forced marriages, blasphemy cases, and obstacles to accessing education and justice. 

Recent horrific events in Africa have generated copious amounts of press coverage and the question must be asked, how does this news impact our advocacy efforts? Whether its from generating renewed interest in our efforts to highlight these issues by the shock in response of the average person or the disinterest shown 

The first event that was newsworthy occurred in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Over the past weekend the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) , one of the many Militia Groups that are active in the eastern part of the Congo, attacked a Church Service with a bomb. It has been reported that at least 14 people were killed and 63 were wounded in the attack. Some of the photos of the aftermath show many women and children as victims. A statement released by IS claimed that this attack was revenge for recent losses.

The second incident took place in Burkina Faso where at least 50 women and girls were kidnapped while they were foraging for food over the evening of January 12th and were in a vulnerable position. Some would escape by heading into the bush while more were freed on January 21 according to state media. In the northern part of Burkina Faso there is a small but vibrant Christian Community that often gets overlooked by defenders of Religious Freedom due to other concerns in West Africa. In fact, most concern in the region is often focused on the main generator of revenue which is Gold mining. This means that the victims of this incident were most likely Christian and could further inflame tensions within the nation. 

A third piece of news happens to be quite disturbing. On January 9th the Court of Appeal in Egypt decided on a verdict that acquitted three men on charges that they assaulted a Christian Woman in a mob attack that occurred in 2016. This is not the only incident that has taken place against Christian Women in Egypt. In July 2022 reports emerged of another Christian Woman who was savagely attacked by an assailant while en route to her family farm to work. These incidents can be seen as evidence of an increasingly growing anti-Christian sentiment in Egypt. 

How can someone who is concerned about these events raise their voices to show support for their fellow believers? Soon an opportunity will present itself so one can not only learn about atrocities like this but even find ways to address them.

The upcoming International Religious Freedom Summit presents an opportunity to hold duty-bearers accountable to address the concerns of African women. During Summit the Denial of IRF track will include a breakout session on women and why they are often targeted as they are often seen as the most vulnerable segment of any population and can easily be exploited. 

Those who participate in this track will have the chance to follow through with this call to action. We will speak for those who cannot be there and even are in a position where they cannot freely express their anguish. We will defend their rights by calling on those who interact with those who can assist them to raise their plight and hold those who need to be accountable for what has taken place. 

They may be suffering now but on January 31st they will not be forgotten.


About Author


Specialist in US Policy (Security, Assymetrical Operations and Business Development) towards Africa and Arab World (Washington DC – USA)

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