UNICEF Malawi, Religions for Peace and the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities held the second WorkRock of the Faith and Positive Change for Children Global Initiative on Social Behavior Change (FPCC). The partners gathered for five days to discuss and work for change for children. The opening ceremony on Monday included remarks from Rudolf Schwenk, UNICEF Country Representative who stated that UNICEF wants to develop specific calls to action to end child marriage with power and authority of faith leaders…wish for a safe and supportive environment within churches, mosques and places of worship for other faiths.
LET THEM DREAM – Wati Nungu
I remember conversing with a 5 year old little girl
Who wanted to know what colors make up the rainbow?
And this is what I told her
I told her that each one of her dreams is the color that paints the skies
And that she is a seed of light
So when she blooms she must do so with no apology
She needed to believe that the dreams in her belly deserve to be born
And see the light of the day
But this is what I was afraid of telling her
That by the time she is 9
She will begin to get crooked stares from
Men old enough to father her
And comments such as
Mwanayu koma nde akukula bwino
By the time she is 13,
She will be told that her dreams do not serve God’s purpose
That she was created only to manufacture babies
And to serve her master
They will murder her dreams
And force her into marriage
There will be nothing godly or heavenly about the way that she screams
You are hurting me (repeat 2 times)
Mukundipweteka (repeat 2 times)
But they will not care
As long as their ego and lust are satisfied
When she fights back,
She will tell be told sshh
Do you not know that this man is rich?
He is will take us out of poverty
This is the way of tradition
Do not fight the ways of those who came before you
And you will be silent
Because well, it is not your daughter,
Not your sister, not your niece
When are we going to learn?
That the man that has the power to do something
Yet does nothing
Is just as guilty as the culprit
When are we going to learn,
That we throw ourselves deeper into the darkness
Every time we murder the dreams of these little seeds of lights?
We owe it to this nation
We owe it to them
To let them dream
The PAC also signed a communique which details action steps for the initiative in Malawi. The event helped to build action plans for efforts to tackle issues related to child protection, especially child marriage. Partners gained new perspective of working for/with children to dig deeper into social norms and practices.
ED Fore launches the Faith and Positive Change for Children Global Initiative in Washington, D.C.
The purpose of the initiative is to put into motion a new way of engaging with Faith leaders and local faith communities.
In his statement for the launch, Imam Mohamed Magid, Co-President, Religions for Peace expressed the privilege he felt working alongside UNICEF as a convening partner for the initiative. “Religions for Peace is the largest inter-faith network in the world and with its country presence and inter-religious councils in numerous countries we take this opportunity to publicly re-commit the support of RfP worldwide to the roll-out of the initiative,” he said.
The FPCC has spent two years generating rigorous evidence, including literature review, mapping of country level work, analysis of resource materials, case study documentation, and consultations with a global advisory group of over 15 global partner faith-based organizations. It is now positioned to further refine and validate its preliminary Theory of Change and comprehensive Principles Paper, both developed to guide more meaningful, equitable and sustainable ways of working with Faith actors towards positive change for children.
Last week, the first of a series of consultations, “Work Rocks” was convened in South Sudan, opened by the country’s Vice President and three Ministers. The series of four-day inter-faith gatherings are being organized in six focal countries in Africa by UNICEF’s Communication for Development Section in collaboration with Civil Society Partnerships (CSP) Unit, Division of Communication and global faith
“We are calling these kick-off gatherings ‘Work Rocks’ to purposefully seed the idea that this effort is about laying deeper and stronger foundations to ensure sustained partnerships for social and behaviour change from within faith communities,” explained Kerida McDonald, acting Chief of Communication for Development for UNICEF.
“Work Rock” foundational change meeting in South Sudan with children from JCC Primary School
“The aim is to move away from top-down, message-focused, short-term, project mode, sector-siloed and instrumentalist-type engagement with religious leaders which has been characteristic of much of the well-intentioned efforts of country offices to leverage the power of religious leaders in addressing attitudinal and behavioural barriers to achieve programmatic goals.”
At the Global launch of the initiative, hosted by ED Fore, a core representative from the Advisory Group, Sunita Groth, Senior Program Manager of World Vision, lauded the initiative as a unique effort within UN and Development programming to build on lessons learned. “We acknowledge the powerful role that religion can play, for good or for ill,” she said. “We also have learned that we should not impose our own values and ‘development-speak’ on faith leaders and their faith communities.” Ms. Groth went on to stress the value of partnering faith and science to address the issues facing communities.
“We need to come together in true partnership and allow faith leaders to discover the barriers to the change they want to see for families and communities and how to influence these through their own religious texts, grounded in science, and facing the real-life reality of people in their communities,” she said.
Adding, “We have evidence that this type of approach works in influencing concrete change.”
A longitudinal study in Senegal showed 72 per cent of faith leaders and spouses were reported to have stopped hitting or insulting their children, while those believing that faith leaders who abuse children should not be punished dropped from 66 per cent to 15 per cent.
“This is the most important thing I’ve worked on in all my years of faith and development,” said Jean Duff, Executive Director of the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities and UNICEF’s Knowledge partner for the initiative. “The initiative has unprecedented potential for providing a bridge of collaboration across multi-laterals, government and faith organizations; in breaking dependency mindsets through mind and heart dialogue grounded in assets of the community; by re-framing from training to learning, testing and doing; and for creating a strong mechanism for scaling up by joining action across three tiers – global, regional and country level.”
In her closing remarks, ED Fore encouraged partners to continue guiding UNICEF on how the organization needs to remodel its relationships with faith communities for benefit of children. “We count on you all to help us cement the true partnerships we are seeking in order to more effectively address the deep-rooted cultural, social and behavioural issues that undermine even the best efforts of our programmatic work,” she said. “It is fitting that we are staging this global launch of the FPCC initiative during the momentous year of the 30th anniversary of CRC…we take this opportunity to join hands with you today in recommitting our focus and energies to work together more closely and more effectively to ensure the rights and well-being of the world’s most vulnerable children.”
by Kerida McDonald, Senior Adviser Communication for Development
Local faith actors and religious leaders with UNICEF South Sudan, Religions for Peace and the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities launched the first country WorkRock of the Faith and Positive Change for Children Global Initiative on Social Behavior Change (FPCC). The partners gathered for five days to discuss and work for change for children. The opening ceremony on Monday included a welcome from Archbishop Arkangelo Wani Lemi, Chairperson of South Sudan Council of Churches and remarks from Sheikh Juma Saeed, Vice President James Wani Igga and Kerida McDonald, UNICEF Senior Advisor of Communication for Development.
“Despite improvements in girls’ education, too many girls are still denied the opportunity to attend school. Lack of education is both a risk factor and a negative result of child marriage. Faith leaders and faith-based organizations are most centrally positioned to influence the ending of child marriage and therefore increasing girls’ education and their chances to fulfill their potential,”
Kerida McDonald, UNICEF’s Senior Advisor for Communication for Development
Children from JCC primary school in Juba performed a skit urging leaders to protect children in South Sudan.
“…I have a bright future inside me
only if you can listen to my cry
I am an African Child
I am a true South Sudanese Child
I am like a lost sheep in the bush without any shepherd to look after
Protect me from hunger
Protect me from sickness
Protect me from child labour…
I need your collective responsibilities all stakeholders
to protect and empower me to realise my dreams and aspirations
as an African South Sudanese child…”
Large group discussions during the WorkRock photo credit: UNICEF/2019/ Sadik Raza
The remaining four days focused on a new way of working with UNICEF and local faith actors and religious leaders. Among attendance included religious leaders, faith actors, government UNICEF C4D officers from the three regions. The final day ended with the partners co-creating an action plan to work together within the regions.
The next steps will aim to have a core commitment from the government and to facilitate similar workrocks on regional and state levels. These commitments build on UNICEF and the World Food Programme’s recently signed joint memorandum of understanding with the South Sudan Council of Churches to collaborate for peace and child rights.
The FPCC will be further tested and adapted in consultations with UNICEF and local faith actors in Malawi, Liberia Niger, and Cameroon before the end of the year.
The new CWFL Online Fellowship will extend the reach of its flagship fellowship program to women of faith who are unable to participate in person. The CWFL Online Fellowship is open to all women of faith seeking to strengthen sustainable leadership as they work on behalf of vulnerable and marginalized communities.
The fellowship will consist of ten modules with topics such as planning for leadership; overcoming challenges to leadership; ensuring sustainable leadership through holistic self-care; negotiating conflicts; building effective mentorships and networks; setting yourself up for success through prayerful strategic planning; and building philanthropic partnerships to support your work.
JLI’s partner Tearfund has a new position available.
As part of Tearfund’s ongoing commitment to improve diversity and inclusion across their work, Tearfund is looking to hire an experienced Gender and Inclusion Specialist to support our programmatic and advocacy team with mainstreaming gender and inclusion.
900 religious leaders, representing diverse faith communities from 120 countries, gathered to discuss key themes including: preventing and transforming violent conflicts, promoting just and harmonious societies, advancing sustainable and integral human development and protecting the earth.
RFP Trustees, in an inspired move, elected Azza Karam of UNFPA and the UN Interagency Task Force on Faith and Development to replace Bill Vendley, longtime Secretary General and servant of peace.
The German government provided extraordinary support to the World Assembly, making it possible for faith leaders to attend from around the world. The Assembly was honored to hear a major address by German President Steinmeier affirming the important role of religions in making and keeping peace. The Assembly was called to action by other global leaders including Sheikh Bin Bayah, Patriarch Bartholemew, Rabbi David Rosen, Sheikh Mubaje, Hon. Mehrezia Labidi-Maiza, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, Ela Ghandi, Dr Vinu Aram and Dr. Jeff Sachs.
The Sixth annual G20 Interfaith Forum took place in Tokyo Japan with about 300 religious leaders, FBOs, academics and others gathered from around the world.
Katherine Marshall, World Faiths Development Dialogue and Cole Durhan, Brigham Young University under the patronage of Dr Haruhisa Handa organized the conference.
The goal of the Forum was to discuss global issues through the lens of faith. Attendees also aimed to develop recommendations from the faith community to the G20 meeting in Osaka.
This year’s themes were People, Planet Peace: Pathways Forward
Jean Duff represented JLI and made contributions to two working sessions and to the closing Plenary “Towards 2020”. At the People session on Every Child has a Right to a Childhood, JLI announced the launch of the EVAC Hub’s new three-part Scoping Report and presented recommendations for the G20 Summit. At the Peace session on “New Ways to Serve and Integrate Refugees and Forcibly Displaced Communities,” JLI presented recommendations for the G20 Summit relating to the importance of the Global Compact on Refugees and the role of local faith actors in implementing it. Also, JLI contributed to the policy briefs from the two sessions.
The diversity of origins and traditions which make humanity unique are being targeted by intolerance, sometimes by brutal violence, and refugees are often on the front line of this assault. Reinforcing the traditional role of faith communities in offering sanctuary to refugees, more than 25 faith-based actors express their further commitment to upholding the dignity of refugees through offering effective protection, access to social services and fulfilment of human rights and enhancing peacebuilding efforts. Based on their religious teachings, as well as on the experience that some of their communities have of being targeted themselves, faith-based actors seek to address xenophobia as one of their special responsibilities.
The Global Compact on Refugees specifically recognizes the contribution and long-standing experience of faith-based actors in supporting refugees and will highlight these contributions at the Global Refugee Forum. Whether supporting refugees, including children, on their journey to safety including in reception and admission, meeting protection or service delivery needs and supporting communities to find solutions such as private sponsorship programmes, faith-based actors are committed to working alongside states and the rest of the global humanitarian community to deliver the promise of the Global Compact on Refugees.
This statement is supported by:
Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA)
American Jewish World Service
Church World Service
Food for the Hungry
HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society)
International Catholic Migration Commission
Islamic Relief Worldwide
Jesuit Refugee Service
Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities
JLI, in its role as a PaRD Knowledge Partner, attended the PaRD General Assembly of Members in Copenhagen to report to the PaRD workstreams on study progress as well as share JLI Hub and Project work.
JLI is currently supporting evidence building for the workstreams on Health – SDG 3, Gender Equality and Empowerment – SDG 5, and Sustaining Peace – SDG 16. JLI Research Advisor, Susanna Trotta, President, Jean Duff and Senior Programs and Knowledge Manager, Stacy Nam attended and reported to the workstreams in parallel sessions. Members agreed to start new working groups in capacity building and Environment, Water and Climate Action. JLI looks forward to aligning the JLI climate webinars and evidence building with the working group.
Jean Duff, JLI President, reporting on JLI-PaRD Workstream Studies in plenary on May 2
JLI presented in the open sessions on both days on three themes:
The University of Leeds is looking for contributors to a new and exciting handbook on the topic of Religion, Gender and Society. Underpinning the volume, is an awareness that it is impossible for scholars, activists and policy makers to understand and explain contemporary societies and to contribute towards positive social change unless attention is paid to the role that religion plays in shaping gender identities. This handbook will provide a survey of the current state of research on religions, gender and society. Its aim will be to make a major contribution to the research agenda for the next 5-7 years, to redefine existing areas within the context of international research, and to highlight emerging and cutting edge areas.
If you are interesting in being considered, please send a short abstract/chapter outline to Dr Caroline Starkey ([email protected]) by Monday 1st April 2019. Final chapters will be due in autumn/winter 2019, with publication planned for mid-2020.