Women, Faith and Humanitarian Interventions


Workshop 1: Spaces of Activation and Motivation
University of Birmingham, 25-26 April 2018

The theme of this workshop is the relationship between religion and rights-based approaches, which are sometimes seen to be in conflict with each other. Both commonalities and divergences will be considered, with a view to identifying religious resources which have common ethical impulses to rights values, locating key areas where synergies are existing and potentially built upon in relation to women and rights. The workshop will look at questions surrounding how groups of religious women themselves can be activated and motivated as agents and resources for change.

Workshop 2: Spaces of Communication and Faith Discourse

Recognising that human rights abuses may be both supported and combatted on religious grounds, this workshop will identify areas where a silence and lack of awareness raising on faith matters may be a significant barrier to potential change with the result that women are not afforded equal rights to the practice of religion in situations of humanitarian crisis. Equally, consideration will be given to areas where positive moves are being made to highlight key issues in faith communities and develop religious concepts and theologies which prioritise the needs of women and engender support through leadership. Asking critical questions about the theologies and spokespersons that may be activated to support and improve women’s lives, the workshop will explore the contribution of influential religious leaders and of faith-based motivations for development work. What/where are the religious resources that are crucial to bringing about positive change?

Workshop 3: Spaces on the Ground/Spaces of Need

If religion is under-represented in humanitarian policy, programming and literature, there is a need to address the specific issues faced by women of faith on the ground and how to effectively communicate in relation to needs. This workshop takes place in Jordan, where more than 20% of the overall population are refugees, and of those, 80% of refugees are currently placed outside official refugee camps. The research aim of this network is to develop a participatory approach which recognises the significance of faith at the grassroots level and its potential role in shaping policy which will enhance women’s rights.

Workshop 4: Spaces of Empowerment

The final workshop brings together the insights of the previous workshops under the major theme of empowerment of women and the role of faith in humanitarian intervention. Across the various – heterogeneous – spaces, there are opportunities for empowerment, though different voices are needed and different terms of reference in different settings to approach issues of faith in a sensitive and informed manner. The focus will be on concrete recommendations which will form the core content of the network working paper.