Congo Sabbath Initiative

The Religious Institute calls on faith communities to help end violence against women in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

As faith leaders we are called today to see, hear, and respond to the suffering caused by violence against women. We encourage faith communities to participate in the Congo Sabbath initiative.

Fifty-three national religious leaders have joined the Religious Institute in calling congregations to participate in the Congo Sabbath initiative, an effort to involve religious leaders and faith communities in ending violence against women in the DRC. “Congo Sabbath” is a day when congregations might sponsor an educational program on the DRC crisis, raise funds to provide medical services to Congolese women and girls, or include a prayer during worship for the Congolese people.


Over the past 10 years, hundreds of thousands of women and girls living in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have been victims of brutal sexual violence, leaving them with severe physical ailments such as lesions, traumatic fistuale, and HIV/AIDS. Seven in 10 of these women go untreated because of inadequate medical facilities.

V-Day and UNICEF, on behalf of U.N. Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict, have developed a global campaign entitled “Stop Raping our Greatest Resource, Power to Women and Girls of the DRC.” The goal of the campaign is to increase pressure at all levels to do more to stop rape in the DRC, while highlighting the role of women as activists.

One result of the campaign will be the establishment of the City of Joy, a special facility for the survivors of sexual violence in Bukavu, DRC. Conceived, created and developed by the women on the ground, the City of Joy will support women survivors of sexual violence to heal and provide them with opportunities to develop their leadership through innovative programming.  Through its groundbreaking model, the City of Joy will provide up to 180 women a year with an opportunity to benefit from: group therapy; storytelling; dance; theater; self-defense; comprehensive sexuality education (covering HIV/AIDS, family planning); ecology and horticulture; and economic empowerment.

The Religious Institute has created a number of resources to enable congregations in observing a Congo Sabbath. All materials are available for download below. To learn more about V-Day and UNICEF’s Campaign in the Democratic Republic of Congo, visit the V-Day web site.

Worship Resources

Congo Sabbath: Sample Newsletter Article
Congo Sabbath: Sample Bulletin Insert

Additional Resources

Congo Sabbath: National Campaign Endorsers
Congo Sabbath: Resources for Congregations

Sermon: Alas, What Shall We Do?
Sermon: What If No One Had Ever Hurt You?

Congo Sabbath: Embodied Theological Response to End Violence Against Women and Girls
Congo Sabbath: PowerPoint to Accompany Embodied Theological Response