The First Global, Muti-faith Study on the State of
Women and Freedom of Religion or Belief
Women and girls worldwide face compound persecution and discrimination due to their religion or belief. Yet, until today there has been no global landscape analysis of the state of women and freedom of religion or belief (FoRB). FoRB Women’s Alliance’s Women At the Table: Accelerating FoRB Capacity is the first such global exploration and analysis of the conditions under which these violations take place, the role of gender and the creative solutions that would help address these conditions.
With funding provided by The Fetzer Institute, FoRB Women’s Alliance initiated this research and invited the Gender and Religious Freedom (GRF) network to partner on the project. FoRB Women’s Alliance is an accelerator that incubates an emerging ecosystem of current institutional efforts seeking to improve understanding and advance an agenda that places women at the center of efforts to advance Freedom of Religion or Belief.
“The Fetzer Institute is honored to partner with FoRB Women’s Alliance to support this innovative and unprecedented landscape analysis of women and FoRB. This initial research sheds much needed light on the shifts needed in our legal and cultural systems, our mindsets and our institutions to empower women to accelerate FORB capacity by having women at the table. This report is a canary in the coal mine — a call to advance religious freedom for our daughters and their daughters,” said Fetzer Institute program officer Chelsea Langston Bombino.
This introductory study set out to investigate the work currently being done by advocates and practitioners, largely women and girls — many of whom are active at the grassroots level, in the arena of protecting and advancing FoRB for women and girls. The goal was to create a preliminary mapping of advocates and practitioners, the challenges of working in this area and the opportunities to further empower and accelerate such work.
Judith Golub, FoRB Women’s Alliance cofounder, said, “This study is groundbreaking for several reasons:
- It provides better documentation and understanding of this landscape.
- It highlights that despite these compound vulnerabilities and the barriers that accompany them, women have accomplished a great deal.
- It underscores what other studies found: the need for advocacy and activism and that in order to empower religious freedom, women and girls must be empowered.
- It identifies solutions to address the challenges facing women and FoRB and accelerate religious freedom or belief for all.”
The research revealed recurring themes related to the existing difficulties women and FoRB advocates and practitioners encounter, as well as hopeful avenues for future action. Both the roadblocks and innovations needed to overcome these roadblocks speak to the systemic nature of the existing challenges. These challenges are faced, not by one or another religious group or a particularly disadvantaged group of women, but globally, impacting women and girls and their communities worldwide.
The findings and recommendations encapsulate the experiences of research participants working to advance religious freedom or belief for women. Lou Ann Sabatier, FoRB Women’s Alliance cofounder, said “For the first time, we have a vivid picture of the state and needs of the field, both the challenges and successes, and a roadmap forward.”
Access the report here
About FoRB Women’s Alliance
FoRB Women’s Alliance is a global community of religious freedom and human rights advocates and future leaders with a shared vision: advancing freedom of religion or belief for women. As a global human rights accelerator, we work across countries, regions and sectors to increase the impact of stakeholders working on issues focused on the intersection of FoRB and women’s rights.
Lou Ann Sabatier
FoRB Women’s Alliance
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Religion News Service or Religion News Foundation.