IRF Summit 2024 – Women in IRF Leading the Way
IRF Summit 2024 featured a Plenary Session focused on women working to advance international religious freedom for women and girls.
Panelists highlighted a) the importance of engaging government, business, civil society and faith leaders, b) providing education and training in local communities, c) working within the legal and procedural framework to bring about justice and policy change and d) using advocacy and grassroots campaigns to transform fear and denial into hope and action.
Context – All individuals, including women and girls, have a right to freedom of religion or belief. The UK government’s 2022 Statement on Freedom of Religion or Belief and Gender Equality succinctly highlights challenges affecting this universal right:
We note with concern that around the world, millions of women and girls experience discrimination, inequality, and violence on the grounds of both their religion or belief and their gender, whether at the hands of state or non-state actors. Women from religious or belief minority groups and indigenous communities, women who are atheists or humanists, and women whose convictions otherwise differ from those of the majority, may be vulnerable or in vulnerable situations.
We recognize that the right to freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) and rights related to gender equality are interdependent, intertwined and mutually reinforcing. A holistic approach to identify and understand the challenges can support the promotion and protection of both sets of rights.
Women in IRF Panelists
Ambassador Suzan Johnson-Cook is the CEO of the Global Black Women’s Chamber of Commerce. She served as the third Ambassador at Large of International Religious Freedom from 2011 to 2013.
Hurunnessa Fariad is the Director of Outreach at Multi-faith Neighbors Network, a nonprofit that seeks to build mutual trust and respect among faith leaders in local communities around the world.
Wai Wai Nu is a former political prisoner, human rights lawyer and the Founder and Executive Director of Women Peace Network which works to promote gender equality, youth empowerment, human rights, democracy, and peace in Myanmar.
Dr. Gloria Puldu is an academic, activist and Founder/President of Leah Foundation, an advocacy organization working to bring freedom to Leah Sharibu and other persecuted and vulnerable women and girls in Nigeria.
Lou Ann Sabatier is a co-founder of FoRB Women’s Alliance.