Guterres stress on necessity of having women in peace-building

Over 1,000 representatives of Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam and other religions are virtually participating in the first Online Assembly on Women, Faith, and Diplomacy being held in Lindau, Germany.


Political and institutional leaders from across the world spoke about their own faiths and openly pointed to the myriad ways religion has failed to promote peace, at the first Online Assembly on Women, Faith, and Diplomacy being held in Lindau, Germany from November 10 to 13.

Speaking at the occasion, Dr. Mary McAleese, former President of Ireland who led the peace process after the Irish civil war under the slogan “Building Bridges,”  said, “Faith will be lucky if it survives religion. As a peace builder, I was able to remain ‘religious’ because of my commitment to ‘faith.’ The peace process in [Ireland] was a chance to redeem Christianity after its failure during the Troubles.”

Jama Egal, national peace building coordinator of Somali government, spoke of his experience brokering peace in one of the most challenging contexts, reflecting that, “Religion is sometimes manipulated for selfish and political purposes. But faith inspires me - it supports me to be patient and forgiving - to keep persevering when the challenges seem impossible.”

 Düzen TekkalGerman journalist and activist of Kurdish-Yazidi descent, said that women of faith leading inter religiously are role models for those trying to overcome terrorism, as Nadia Murad did. “The enemies of women in Iraq and Syria are the same enemies that we face in Europe – they disregard human rights. Women’s own experiences of discrimination within their faiths and their commitment to respect and understanding through inter-faith cooperation position them as the leaders the world needs to overcome terror and violence in the name of religion,” she said in a session with David Eades of BBC.

A  Peace and Light Ceremony was also held globally online and physically in Lindau in the evening, during which the participants joined in a shared moment of unity with candles in their windows, using the hashtag #RfPPeaceLight. The candles also appeared all together on the organisation's social wall. The event was streamed on Facebook page and website.

Over 1,000 representatives of Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam and other religions are virtually participating in the event to discuss new forms of policy making, with a focus on women and diplomacy. 

It is being organised by the inter-religious non-governmental organisation Religions for Peace along with the Foundation for the Peace Dialogue of World Religions and Civil Society (Ring for Peace). The assembly is supported and funded by the German Federal Foreign Office. 

The assembly showcases through testimonies and expert interviews, new ways to promote inter-religious dialogue in difficult times and on several fronts: peace building and terrorism, environment, leadership, hate speech, migrants, and gender violence.

The inaugural ceremony witnessed representatives of international institutions including Chancellor Angela MerkelUN Secretary General António Guterres, and leaders from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), and the Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), universally upholding the value of a faith-based collaboration. Irmgard-Maria Fellner of the Federal Foreign Office of Germany even noted that inter-religious collaboration seems to be the most promising approach to gender equality and peace-building because it inherently starts with a respect for differences.

Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel, in her welcome address, highlighted wider effects of recent terror attacks in Austria, France and Germany. UN Secretary General António Guterres talked on necessity of having women in peace-building.

Mary McAleese, former President of Ireland, Michelle Müntefering, Minister of State for International Cultural Policy at the Federal Foreign Office, Germany, Gillian Triggs, Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Jama Egal, National Peace building Coordinator of Somali Government, Laura Anyola Tufon, Coordinator, Justice and Peace Commission, Cameroon, Sharon Rosen, Global Director, Search for Common Ground, and Lucy Calladine, Government Affairs and Public Policy, Google also spoke on the occasion.

According to Azza Karam, Secretary General of Religions for Peace, the growing influence of women in contributing to peace and security worldwide is a key focus. So, the assembly was aimed at to include women and faith in diplomacy.

First Published:Nov. 12, 2020, 8:15 p.m.

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