Meet our Chair

 Elizabeth Hoorn Petersen holds a PhD in Philosophy of Religious and Theological studies from the Department of Religion and Theology at the University of the Western (UWC) Cape in South Africa. Her Master’s Degree in Social Work obtained from UWC, explored the challenges that clergy experience in addressing domestic violence. Her extensive work in the gender-based violence (GBV) sector since 1993, her faith commitment, church leadership and her inter-religious work experience with faith leaders across various religions (ATR, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Bahaí, Buddhist, and Brahma Kumaris, etc.), and various Christian denominations, enables her to bring these sectors together to critically engage the faith dimensions of GBV. Her influence reaches across religious and non-religious sectors. As a founding member of the South African Faith and Family Institute (SAFFI), Elizabeth seeks to create coordinated restorative justice culturally informed responses to GBV with a particular focus on strengthening the capacity of the faith sector whilst insisting on the humanity of perpetrators to advance the cultivation of Ubuntu in intimate relationships. 

 She is a Hubert H Humphrey Fellowship alumni from the Hubert Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, USA. Elizabeth served on various boards including St. Anne’s Homes (est. in 1904 it is the oldest shelter for women survivors of GBV in South Africa), and the Inclusive and Affirming Ministries (IAM is a faith-based LGBTIQ+ non-profit). Currently Elizabeth serves as trustee and board member of the Desmond Tutu Centre for Religion and Social Justice. She also serves as board member on the Pan-African Dialogue Institute. A short documentary on aspects of her life and its intersection with her work is available online via this link: