Role of Faith and Women in Promoting Peace
Numerous studies have explored the role of women and religion in promoting peace, particularly in areas that are prone to war. To ensure sustainable peace among communities that have been affected by war, we believe that the participation of women in negotiations and other peace-promoting processes is vital.
The University of Bucharest-Faculty of Roman-Catholic Theology took the initiative to open/establish an academic platform fostering interfaith dialogue by organising an international conference with the theme “Religion and Peace Today” which was conducted on 1-3 June 2023. The Talitha Kum Regional Coordinator for Europe, Sr. Adina Bălan, CJ presented a paper discussing how the above-mentioned theme is strongly correlated to the subject matter in tackling human trafficking.
Starting with pondering over the wide perspective of Pope Francis’s constant encouragement to engage in interfaith dialogue, which can bring enrichment to the participants, it becomes evident that women should also be actively involved in peacebuilding activities. Taking into account the interconnectedness of violence against women with other forms of violence, it becomes imperative for women to take the lead in peace negotiations. The prevailing perception of women primarily as victims often overshadows their crucial role as peacemakers in the process of rebuilding and fostering peace. Women’s involvement has been discreet, unnoticed, and generally informal which can loosely be translated to an invaluable contribution to peacebuilding.
The new UN policy document mentioned by Sr. Adina showcases the magnitude of the gendered impact of conflict on food, energy, and finance affecting women and girls within Ukraine and globally. Furthermore, she highlights the widening of pre-existing gendered gaps and inequalities worldwide which are resulting in gender-based violence, and physical and health challenges faced by, and not limited to, the 265,000 pregnant Ukrainian women.
The Talitha Kum Network, a cautious yet effective network of religious combating human trafficking globally provides a tangible example of showcasing how interfaith dialogue can foster exceptional collaboration against human trafficking. In addition to a brief presentation of the network, she brings focus to the fact that the majority of the victims of human trafficking come from vulnerable communities and ethnic minorities like Latin American, indigenous communities in the USA, minority communities, and victims of racial discrimination in Europe, women and children across the mentioned groups. An inspiring brief snippet from the documentary “Wells of Hope” was screened displaying exceptional collaboration among the protagonists; minority women in Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria, combating trafficking in persons by raising awareness, prevention, advocacy as well as rehabilitation and accompaniment of victims.
“The objectives of Well of Hope are: To bring women together, to share the approaches they have developed in order to prevent Trafficking in Persons (TIP)and to help the survivors; To identify partners, resources persons, places in which to establish the project and a series of encounters in order to define and to plan a common agenda against trafficking in persons; To promote trust and a space for dialogue, reflection and action among Christian and Muslim Women focused on human dignity, in order to prevent any kind of exploitation of life.” Sr. Marie Claude Naddaf, RGS - Wells of Hope
An insightful and deep discussion was sparked during the question-and-answer session, focusing on the conditions of Christian and Muslim women in Afghanistan, Libya, and Ukraine. The discussion revolved around the role of church leaders in promoting peacebuilding and empowering women to speak their truth.
Confronting human trafficking comprehensively, both preventive and intervention measures globally, can be remotely linked to religion because we can have no peace till all our sisters and brothers live a dignified life with freedom, justice, and truth.
By Sr. Adina Bălan, cj Talitha Kum Regional Coordinator for Europe
June 28, 2023