The 1st Assembly on Women, Faith and Diplomacy, Keeping Faith and Transforming Tomorrow, took place this week in Lindau, Germany.
This global event which took place solely online, highlighted a progressive and unique approach to faith by focusing on women’s role within religion. Participants united in their desire to envisage “a future where faith and feminism go hand in hand.” as H.E. Mr IB Peterson, the Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations Population Fund stated.
The event saw esteemed international faith leaders, actors and believers come together to meet and learn from one another. The assembly showcased new ways to promote interfaith dialogue in difficult times and on several fronts: peacebuilding and terrorism, environment, leadership, hate speech, migrants and gender violence.
The impressive virtual event took place over four days, with a mix of expert and lightning talks, interactive breakout sessions which focussed on a range of topics such as; discussions on hate speech, combating racism and anti-Semitism, women’s leadership in inclusivity and diversity, fighting gender based violence, the importance of educating future generations about women in faith and many more.
Ravinder Kaur Nijjar is the Chair of Religions for Peace UK Women of Faith Network. She served as Co-Chair of RfP European Women of Faith Network, 2006-14 and is currently a member of the Executive Board. Ravinder was interviewed by a German media representative at the start of the week, about how she interprets her role as a female religious leader and what priorities she sets, that men might perhaps do differently:
“The term religious leader is not one that resonates with me. I consider myself as a transient spiritual being trying to serve God and Creation whilst residing temporarily on our Planet Earth. Women’s success is brought about by their efforts based on influencing outcomes through partnerships and networks, this special quality of leadership has enabled achievement in facing arising challenges throughout the centuries. Women tend to work by using dialogue and concrete actions, building trust and friendships between communities and people at the local societal level. This encourages community cohesion, a sense of belonging and a shared vision that we can build a better, just and peaceful world for ourselves and future generations.” Kirchenbote, 8th November 2020
Ravinders message is one that certainly resonates with not only religious leaders, but with many who attended the conference in Lindau. H.E Michelle Muentefering, the Minister of State for International Cultural Policy from the German Federal Foreign Office echoed Ravinders sentiments. Michelle noted, “Women must and can play an integral role when we are deciding which society we want to live in, as women are as much a part of societies as men. Therefore, it is crucial that women are represented in governments, parliaments, NGO’s and religious organisations, because it’s often women who are at the forefront as bridge builders and mediators in communities.”
The conference proved to be a huge success, closing with a pledge for change, led by Professor Azza Karam, the Secretary General from Religions for Peace International. Prof Azza declared, “Faith is where we go to find our strength and resilience, in this we find ourselves”… Azza then commented on the role of women in the world, “We have been created together for a reason, we bear the same capacity…”
We hope the next Assembly in Lindau will be in person, where we can all unite once more.
Written by Giorgia Lee (Communications)