Our story begins with Esperance but belongs to women everywhere. In 2012, Belinda Bauman and a group of women met Esperance while visiting the Democratic of Congo. Esperance watched her husband die at the hand of rebels. She was violently raped and would have died if her sisters hadn’t rescued her. Across a blank sheet of paper, Esperance, who can’t read or write, had someone write the words: “Tell the world.” Then she stamped her thumbprint underneath. Esperance’s thumbprint became Belinda’s mandate: violence against women in war is violence against me. One Million Thumbprints invites all of us to join Esperance by helping her, and thousands like her, to stem the tide of violence in tangible ways. One thumbprint becomes a hundred, a thousand, even a million strong.
- It is estimated that 35 per cent of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual violence or sexual violence at some point in their lives.
- Evidence suggests ethnicity, disability status, or sexual orientation and contextual factors, such as humanitarian crises, including conflict and post-conflict situations, drastically increase women’s vulnerability to violence.
- Worldwide, 50% of sexual assaults are committed against girls under the age of 16.
- Sexual violation of women erodes the fabric of a community in a way that few weapons can. Rape damages individuals, families and entire communities, devastating societies that see women as the guardians of a community’s cultural and spiritual values. Breaking women breaks the village, and breaking the village breaks the culture, making it easier for invading forces to take control of human and natural resources.
- Nearly 80 per cent of the 53 million people uprooted by wars today are women and children. When fathers, husbands, brothers and sons are drawn away to fight, they leave women, the very young and the elderly to fend for themselves.
- Girls and women can be subject to forced prostitution and trafficking during times of war, sometimes with the complicity of governments and military authorities.
Sources: UNWomen, UNICEF, and Human Rights Watch
One Million Thumbprints (1MT) seeks to end violence against women and girls in conflict zones.
- We catalyze voice with, and for, women and girls affected by violence in conflict zones.
- We fund programs ensuring the survival of women and girls in conflict zones, including safe spaces, trauma support, health services, education and economic opportunity.
- We build resiliency in women and girls affected by, or vulnerable to, violence associated with war and conflict through capacity-building and training.
- We advocate for policy that protects women and girls in conflict zones.
Every person is created in the image of God and endowed with potential, value, conscience, gifts, talents, and creativity. For authentic change to occur, everyone must become actors, or agents, in their own transformation. Denying dignity to any one person desecrates the image of God. Violence against anyone is, therefore, violence against God.
The Church’s mandate is integral, or holistic, expressing the Gospel through word and deed, in sacrificial service to others, as an authentic expression of God’s love. The Church is called to be prophetic in exposing and opposing injustice, redemptive in reconciling all things in Christ, and restorative in seeking a Kingdom where love and justice govern both now and not yet.
Triune in being, God is relational and communal in nature. By creating and reconciling us into his image, he sends us out as a community of faith into a dying and impoverished world to do justice and demonstrate life. In following the example of Jesus, we invite those who suffer into our community and, as when we do, we, too, receive their welcome. Violence against her is violence against us