A call for peace, respect, and unity for women was the talk of the day during a Women’s Month celebration held at the Castle of Good Hope in the CBD on Wednesday 21 August.This interfaith event was organised by the South African Religious Forum (SARF) and religious leaders from across the country, who prayed for the expulsion of women abuse and violence.The keynote address was delivered by cooperative governance and traditional affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma who emphasised the involvement of faith-based organisations in shaping the future of the nation. She said South Africa at large was facing the scourge of women and child abuse accompanied by increasing numbers of suicide incidents in communities.“How can we continue to have such elements in our society if when we have these powerful religious organisations. We cannot wait for Jesus to come to save us if we cannot save ourselves, or let people die with broken souls and believe they will go to heaven,” Dlamini-Zuma said.She said women are playing a significant role in society and religion, as well as traditional leaders, have proven that with support and assurance of safety they could do even better.Dlamini-Zuma said she is willing to sit down with SARF and have a constructive discussion on how to work together.Various speakers from religious groups shared the stage delivering supportive speeches and endorsing the SARF.President of SARF, Bishop Jonathan Govender started by emphasising the need for government to allow religious groups to regulate themselves, without interferences of the government.Govender said SARF wanted the public and the minister to know that despite the negativity that dominates the media about religious leaders, many of them were doing a good job in the community, serving voluntarily and giving life to many through various initiatives.Govender said religious leaders run soup kitchens, provide shelter, support victims of abuse, sacrifice the little they have for the vulnerable but their contributions mostly go unnoticed. However, he acknowledged that a few leaders act against the constitution of the religious leaders and commit crimes. He said the commission of SARF does not condone the wrongs of those pastors.Moulana Abul Begalie, deputy president of the Muslim Judicial Council, added that the reality is that women are not free.“There are too many women who are suffering in silence, too many women who are ill-treated. “As faith leaders, we have got a definite role to play and I want to say that we must all sign a petition and pledge that we will lead to the well-being of all women respectively.”Sive Sonto of the SARF youth council said they welcome the call by their leadership and minister, and agree that they cannot vow to praise and serve the Lord but fail to bring about solutions and save lives within their communities. He said there are already programmes running in communities that empower not just women but youth at large. He said the journey to create peaceful communities should not start with healing the victims but creating a healthy society by making men aware of their roles and responsibilities. He said from SARF youth, on behalf of men, they apologise for the treatment women have been experiencing and they want them to know there are men determined to make a positive impact in their lives.