We are women and men who recognise the complex and hidden nature of
gender-specific persecution of Christian women and girls, alongside the severe and focused nature of religious persecution of men and boys.
We are a forum committed to hearing the authentic voice of women, whilst not
negating the known ways in which men suffer for their faith.
We are committed to collaborative, evidence-based and multidisciplinary approaches.
To create space both online and in person to share relevant research, reports and broader communications on the subject of gender and religious persecution. This includes updating the website, online webinars and training and consultations.
To be an accessible network that ensures expertise aiming for change at the grassroots and through policy and practices at its highest level. This will be done through connections in this forum and with other networks that intersect in wider areas of influence. Also, in joining Freedom of Religions or Belief (FoRB) forums and working groups allied to government departments and international bodies.
To work for the good of all in our field of influence we actively avoid competition between organisations or individuals but promote the achievements of all whilst contributing with robust and respectful debate and discussion where appropriate.
To be intentionally intergenerational, reaching out to those beginning their career in the area of FoRB or ministries in gender and religious persecution. We create interactions that enhance mentoring between those with expertise or first-hand experience and those who are growing and developing in this field. However, everyone is learning.
To create equity of voice. This means that we aim for sharing platforms of influence without hierarchy or primacy ensuring that our communication allows for women or men, old or young, any nation, tribe or tongue to be represented and valued.
As a forum, we are Christian and we believe in freedom of religion for all beliefs or none / non-belief. This means we aim to work and network across all faith-based, civil and secular organisations and will advocate for all but are unashamedly part of the global Church and seek to build its resilience as our vision states.
GRF began with women working for organisations such as Release International in the UK and Open Doors recognising that the experience of Christian women facing persecution was very different to that of men. Work began in several places to address this disparity, and in 2016, in the village of Marcham just outside Oxford, UK, a group of 28 people gathered to discuss women and persecution, a meeting that would become known as the Marcham conference.
Three key aspects emerged which influenced further work and consultations in Leuven, Belgium (2018) and Abuja, Nigeria (2019).
First, the need for more evidence as to the experiences of both men and women. Second, that under-reporting was blinding the global church to this issue.
And third, that the church is complicit with those who violate women by offering impunity, making actions low-risk to perpetrators.
In 2018, key relationships were built, and GRF became a task force of the RLP (Religious Liberty Partnership). Since then, we have worked with the WEA on presenting this at the UN Commission for the Status of Women, making recommendations for the Bishop of Truro’s report on the persecution of Christians (UK), advising the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (UK) and expanding beyond a Christian lens to convene the Gender working group of the UK Freedom of Religion or Belief Forum.