IGE Launches New Initiative: Women of Faith for Peace and Security
Purpose: Women of Faith for Peace & Security (WFPS) works globally for respect, reconciliation, and religious freedom as a common outpouring of women’s different religious identities, seeking a scripture-based approach to peace and security.
Background: Through IGE’s global experience—and inspired especially by the women of the Al Andaluse Institute for Islamic Studies, an all women’s Islamic college in Hama, Syria—it has become clear that the only element less utilized in fostering respect, reconciliation, and religious freedom in the world than religion, is women of faith. This deficit of faith and gender, brings with it consequences—a failure to deliver sustainable peace and security reflective of the entire population. Indeed, “peace and security,” as the Apostle Paul argues, is the shallow if not temporary promise of governments (1st Thessalonians 5:3).1 As a Christian organization, we at IGE feel that true peace and security can be found as we more closely examine Christ Himself, and the “pattern” (John 13:15) that He established for His followers of submission and service.
This example is particularly compelling in Jesus’ own inclusion of women: from including Mary and Martha in His instruction (in John 11:28 they called Him “teacher”); to teaching in the “Court of Women” in the Temple (John 8:20); to taking strides to heal a crippled woman on the Sabbath and call her a “daughter of Abraham” (Luke 13:16); to His healing of a faithful woman who boldly touched His cloak amidst the crowd (Luke 8:48); to His appearance first to a woman after resurrection, allowing her to bear witness (John 20); and, finally to His quite intentional example of submitting to adulterous women—in John 4:8-9 He asks the most shunned woman of the most despised ethnic minority for water in midday, for all to see; and in John 8:8 He literally “stoops” before her. In all cases, Jesus sets the example of who His neighbor is, and of what the pattern of engagement should be, showing us how to live the “peace” He leaves with us (John 14:27), in this troubled world.
In this context, and as a faith-based organization, we want to explore a new approach to peace and security, one that is hard-headed and soft-hearted, both “shrewd” and “innocent,” as Jesus said (Matthew 10:16), while partnering with individuals and organizations who are also motivated by their diverse faith, We invite you to this journey with us as we examine how we apply Jesus’ inclusion of women as integral and vital to true peace and security around the world. Toward this end, we have organized along “think” and “do” lines,
WFPS seeks to be a leading voice advocating for and publishing ideas on the importance of faith and women in peace and security formation. It will seek to reach scholars, practitioners, and those interested in faith, gender studies, and international affairs. Through this scholarship WFPS will serve to educate the general public on the importance of religious women’s inclusion in peacebuilding and security formation; explore new areas of research that will edify and expand this niche sector while empowering women of faith working within toward peace; and, inform future policy formation on relevant security issues.
Upcoming Publications: network members Kristen Lundquist and Sirin Hamsho, a graduate of the Al Andaluse Institute for Islamic Studies, will contribute a 2012 chapter focusing on women religious peacebuilders to Carl Medearis’ forthcoming book, “The Middle East Experience.” IGE staff will also publish a chapter this year regarding the role of Protestant Evangelicalism in peace-building, with a special focus on women, for a 2013 book sponsored by the Peace and Conflict studies program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
The aforementioned research and scholarship will be supported and refined by the following groups:
Women of Faith for Peace & Security (WFPS) Advisory Board: The WFPS Advisory Board is a select, multi-sector network of women and men that IGE has asked to serve a twofold purpose: As an idea incubator and as a group that provides particular expertise and experience regarding WFPS initiatives.
The WFPS Network: The WFPS Network exists to promote education, involvement, and participation around issues of gender, religion, peace, and security.
The NGO Collaborative: This practical collaborative project intentionally brings multi-faith women together for leadership development, capacity-building (initially in the Middle East), and multi-faith awareness through four workshops—strengthening their position as women of faith working toward peace and security through their organizations. Then, with the support of a worldwide network of multi-sector advisors, women NGO leaders will be invited to join a task force that discusses and strategically works through major issues within the conflict, utilizing their unique perspective, skills, and location. The task force will not only yield a novel set of case studies and recommendations regarding peace and security in the region, but will empower women of faith to become local thought leaders on these issues, increasing their ability to advance to higher levels of mainstream negotiation and advocacy.
Religion, Women and Peacebuilding Seminar Series: The series is a joint-partnership between The Religions for Peace Global Women of Faith Network, United Nations Women, Princeton University Office for Religious Life, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Ford Foundation, The Salvation Army International Social Justice Commission, The Committee of Religious NGOs at the United Nations, and The Institute for Global Engagement. The series will take place at regular intervals throughout the year, addressing various topics affecting the sector, with working groups taking place in the interim.
Ways to Get Involved!
It is our hope that Women of Faith for Peace & Security would truly be a living initiative, with frequent interaction from friends of IGE. To this end, we invite you to contact us regarding your interest in getting involved in the following activities:
Contribute research/scholarship on issues of gender, religion, peace, and security to IGE’s The Review of Faith & International Affairs; and,
Participate in a Religion, Women and Peacebuilding Seminar Series and Working Group (mentioned above)
In addition, we welcome your ideas for future collaboration and networking. Please contact Kristen Lundquist (email@example.com), Program Officer on Religion, Security, and Gender at 202-957-7108.
1: “Paul’s readers in Thessalonica, however, would take his words as an attack on claims of earlier Roman emperors to have established peace and security (pax et securitas) through the empire. Teaching like this one sounded subversive and may have aroused persecution against Christians (Acts 17:7).” Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary (Downer’s Grove, IL: IVP Press, 1993), 594.