Religions for Peace, partnering once again with Ring for Peace and the Federal Foreign Office of Germany, is bringing you the 1st Assembly on Women, Faith and Diplomacy: Keeping the Faith and Transforming Tomorrow from 10-13 November 2020.
Join us from 10-13 November 2020 for an assembly at the nexus of Women, Faith, and Diplomacy – streamed live in English, Arabic, French, and Spanish. Register now by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Discover what the Assembly has to offer by checking out our Assembly Brochure and complete programme.
Lindau will host the first ever assembly at the intersection of women, faith, and diplomacy. The time to address this intersection is now, as our world suffers from exclusion, marginalization, and violence, and confrontation and polarization is emerging as “normal.” This world utterly misses the art of diplomacy – and it is a threat to our ability to co-exist as planet and peoples.
At the 10th Assembly of Religions for Peace, which Ring for Peace and the German Federal Foreign Office graciously enabled, a woman was elected leader of the Religions for Peace movement – me, Prof. Azza Karam. This election was possible thanks to existing women leaders in the movement as well as male leaders who are committed, brave, and visionary.
A virtuous cycle then began: recognition of the feminine, openness to transformation, and willingness to be self-reflexive and inclusive. This allowed us to grow stronger in our faithful collaboration. At this upcoming Assembly, we come together to assess, learn from, and strengthen this cycle. We embark on the journey of redefining diplomacy with the power of religions, and the leadership of women and men together.
But why religions? Namely, because faith is as a central part of thought, belief, and behaviour across the world. Many governments and intergovernmental institutions have failed to recognise this centrality, marginalizing the impact of religion. This impact includes being the largest, oldest, and most far reaching social service providers; being influential political actors; and being among the most creatively self-resourced institutions in the world. We cannot afford to marginalize this impact. Finally, if religions are identified as a source of violence; and if religious reasons are given to ignore or violate international human rights norms and laws, how can religious actors not be engaged?
The usual pushback to the above rationale, is often to note that not all religious actors work in accordance with all human rights. This is true in some cases, but it is precisely why religions must be engaged. Moreover, religious actors who see and struggle for human rights can also articulate and advocate for them. Religious leaders adhere first and foremost to their sacred texts, but this does not nullify the need of standard of judgement for all humanity. Human rights are this standard.
Religions for Peace’s worldview for half a century is this: all violations of human dignity and damage to our ecosystem are incompatible with faith traditions.
Simultaneously, no siloed institution has successfully eradicated the myriad forms of oppression and injustice – we need more partners, including faith partners, working together to make progress on this front. SDG 17, “Global Partnerships,” provides a framework for us to make progress, and it is one of Religions for Peace’s six priorities in our 2020-2025 Strategic Plan. When we engage with and serve together, we establish more knowledgeable, inclusive, and effective institutions to meet the challenges of our time.
The pandemic has required an adaptation of our modus operandi, which came in the form of a Multi-religious Humanitarian Fund. We wanted faith and interfaith groups across the world to have the means to collaborate across religious siloes – so we gave them the financial means to do so. The results have been astounding, clearly demonstrating the power of religions working together.
Given it is clear now why we must serve together towards common goals, the question remains why we are specifically appealing to women’s leadership, even as most religious leaders are men. Myriad women have led religious communities, institutions, and interfaith movements in various capacities, including through ordination, scholarship, as head of religiously affiliated NGOs, and as ambassadors of religious institutions. In Lindau itself, you elected me to lead your International Secretariat, but our Interreligious Councils have already had women serving as head for decades.
Learning from an international programme I managed in 1996 showed that including women means including women’s insight. This translates into how we deliberate, and what we deliver. Where women are leading, there is more active listening, more inclusive decision-making processes, more diverse staff, and more social service programming and delivery.
Religions for Peace can both be instructed by, and contribute to, inspiring other institutions in the realm of gender equality. Our Strategic Plan was co-developed by 200 religious leaders, for the first time in religious and interreligious history, and gender equality included as a priority.
This Assembly is a means of realizing SDG 17 – partnerships. Through this, Religions for Peace is illustrating that religions are committed, capable, deliverers and champions of gender equality. In Lindau, we will hear the words – and learn of the actions – of women and men who are reimaging diplomacy to build back a better tomorrow.
Read the complete Assembly Brochure, also featuring Prof. (em) Dr. h.c. Wolfgang Schürer (Chairman of the Foundation Peace Dialogue of World Religions and Civil Society), Dr. Andreas Görgen (German Federal Foreign Office), and more!