Women, Religion and Peacebuilding

Just as religion and religious identities appear inextricably linked to violent conflict around the world, women and positions of power in religious contexts are often seen as diametrically opposed. Though their seats at the table are often limited, women’s involvement in the peacebuilding process has proven time and again to be crucial. Around the world, women are rupturing the status quo and taking leading roles as academics, journalists, diplomats, and activists in combating religious extremism. To that end, this panel aims to highlight those women across religions and conflicts from Ultra-Orthodox extremism in Israel/Palestine to Hindu Nationalism to Islamic extremism and beyond.

Panelists will discuss how religion and conflict is different from religious conflict and consider why it is that as women become more involved in peacebuilding, their roles seem less acknowledged. While making a methodological choice to focus on the role of women specifically, this panel will explore commonalities between ways women can be peacemakers in various religious conflicts, how women’s roles in peacebuilding differs from religion to religion and region to region, what has worked in the past, what can be applied in the future, and how more women can take center stage; all the while considering how we can learn more about the broader topic of gender and peacebuilding at large.

Moderator: Professor Prodromou: is a faculty member at Fletcher, The Graduate School of Global Affairs at Tufts University, where directs the Initiative on Religion, Law, and Diplomacy. Her research interests focus on geopolitics and religion, with particular focus on the Middle East, the Eastern Mediterranean, and Southeastern Europe. Her current research projects concentrate on cultural heritage and institutional religious freedom in Turkey and comparative context, as well as Eastern Orthodox Christianity and global public engagement.

Confirmed Panelists:

James Patton: is the current CEO and President of The International Center for Religion and Diplomacy with advanced expertise in peacemaking and conflict transformation. James Patton is also a Fletcher alum.

Dr. Azza Karam: is the Secretary General for Religions for Peace International. Dr. Karam has extensive experience with the United Nations specifically on religion, development and diplomacy.

Sonja Licht: is President of the Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence. She was part of the Yugoslav dissident movement from the late sixties, and from the mid-eighties founded numerous local and international non-governmental organizations. She spent her entire life in peacebuilding through activism in civil society in the Balkans—first, in the former Yugoslavia, and now, within and across successor states. Her experience with inter-religious peacemaking—Jews, Muslims, Orthodox and Roman Catholic Christians—spans a lifetime.

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