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From 4 – 7 March 2019 stake holders of Prevention+ programme from government, Religious institutions and Civil Society Organizations from Rwanda, Indonesia, Uganda, Lebanon, USA, South Africa and the Netherlands gathered in Rotterdam, the Netherlands to discuss the role of religious organizations in ending Gender Based Violence.

The learning event on the prevention of GBV in times of rising conservatism aim was to look at gender transformative programming in collaboration with key religious stakeholders. It was obvious that partners in the prevention of GBV are confronted with challenges related to religious conservatism and harmful traditional norms.
“Religion is not a problem, the thinking and cultural norms that encourage GBV are the problem as they facilitate violence against women and girls” one of the Muslim participant noted.

It was also noted that although challenging, presenters of various cases from countries showed that there are opportunities for broader collaboration to achieve goals of addressing gender-based violence and gender equality while promoting space for diversity and inclusiveness.
It was also acknowledged that religious leaders are important gatekeepers, and ppartner organizations have valuable experiences and lessons learned in collaborating with these leaders, organisations—as the concept note of the event showed.

During the learning event key issues and questions rotated around the approach used in the prevention of GBV, possible current practical strategies, why, what is effective and what is still missing? Who are key religious stakeholders, what can we learn from these collaborations and partnerships, what can be done better, and who is currently not involved that need to be brought into the conversation? what are the challenges in transforming harmful gender norms which may conflict with people’s beliefs and perceptions in the communities.

The learning event facilitated a dialogue with (H)echt Verbonden, a platform of key religious stakeholders, city council, religious leaders, a survivor of GBV and health providers involved in preventing harmful and violent practices within communities of Rotterdam. The event was graced by the presence and the speech of Deputy Mayor of Rotterdam City and the Director of Rutdgers, Ton Coenen on how fighting GBV needs joint efforts.