A joint JLI – WFDD – Berkley Center Initiative on COVID-19

June 30, 2020 Webinar

Faith organizations and communities play critical roles in the humanitarian response to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Young feminist women of faith constitute an important part of this response, and yet they remain a largely unnoticed and untapped constituency in this pandemic. Even though they are at the forefront of the crisis as health workers and primary caregivers delivering care and services following faith-inspired principles of solidarity and compassion, their leadership is frequently overlooked. They are setting examples of transformative leadership within their faith communities, challenging the limited role attributed to women from centuries of strict interpretation of sacred texts. This type of leadership pushes for new frontiers of advocacy to bring lasting and transformative change that will help safeguard future generations of young women. Young women of faith have important roles to play in the COVID-19 crisis, especially in reimagining a better future. It is crucial to understand the importance of engaging with this key constituency and to amplify their leadership as gender equality advocates in their communities and organizations. One path is to ensure that they tell their stories and that they are heard.

Jamie Medicine Crane, a Blackfoot woman from the Kainai and Piikani Nations in Alberta started off the event with an artistic interpretation of the COVID-19 crisis. Lopa Banerjee, director of the Civil Society Division at UN Women, introduced the discussion. Berkley Center Senior Fellow Katherine Marshall and staff member Ruth Gopin moderated the remaining conversation with Dr. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, executive director of UN Women, and three young female leaders of their respective faith communities. They considered the strength and resilience that young women of faith exhibit in times of crisis and how to sustain this leadership beyond the pandemic.

This event was co-sponsored by Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs; UN Women; Baha’i International Community; Milstein Center for Interreligious Dialogue; World Young Women’s Christian Association; Anglican Communion; and the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities.

View the event on the Berkley Center

Read more about the joint JLI-WFDD-Berkley Center COVID-19 and Faith Initiative here

Greetings from the Anti-Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery Hub!

As a next-step from publishing the JLI Anti-Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery (AHT-MS) Scoping Study  – which identified the important role of local faith actors in practice and advocacy around bringing an end to human trafficking – The AHT-MS Hub at the JLI is working to map legal and policy processes across the globe, relating to anti-human trafficking.

We also want to know about the organisations that have played a role in these in order to support our members in influencing anti-human trafficking policy and legislation. We would be grateful if you could fill out the short survey below to inform our research and help us understand your experiences with AHT-MS legislation and policy.

 

  • Local faith leaders have a vital role to play and must not be overlooked in humanitarian work 
  • Local Christian and Muslim leaders and aid agencies working together strengthens response in South Sudan
  • New training model combines small grants with remote coaching

 

Mentoring and coaching via Whatsapp, together with small grants, have improved trust and opened up opportunities for local faith leaders and communities to collaborate with international aid agencies in South Sudan. 

Pilot schemes of a ‘Bridge Builder’ model, developed by Christian and Muslim aid agencies working together, have enabled two-way, shared learning opportunities that could be replicated elsewhere. 

The ‘Bridging the Gap’ consortium comprises:  Tearfund, Islamic Relief, RedR UK, The Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities (JLI) and the University of Leeds.

 

The ‘Bridge Builder’ model was partly inspired by a vision that humanitarian aid should be ‘as local as possible, as international as necessary’ (UN, 2016)

It combines small grants and high quality mentoring to bring together local Christian and Muslim faith leaders and international humanitarian agencies to increase understanding, trust, and coordination by strengthening each other’s skills and capabilities. The overarching goal of the model is a more effective and timely response to best support those affected by humanitarian crises. 

South Sudan was chosen for a pilot of this model because there are tremendous humanitarian needs, along with a significant international – and predominantly secular – aid agency presence. 

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has added to the many challenges already being faced by South Sudan. The threat to livelihoods posed by the current lockdowns, plagues of locusts invading parts of East Africa and recent severe flooding means many farmers have lost homes, crops and cattle – leaving more than half of South Sudan’s population facing the likelihood of acute food insecurity. 

International agencies currently have limited access and mobility, highlighting the vital role played by local faith leaders in providing community support systems. The international humanitarian sector’s ability to interact positively with them is crucial, especially at this time.

Although many faith organisations and leaders are actively responding to humanitarian needs, the experiences shared by those who took part in this study suggest they are often sidelined by international agencies and overlooked in decision making about how best to support their own communities.

 

Zabib Musa Loro, the Executive Director of the Islamic Development Relief Agency (IDRA) –  a local faith organisation trained and supported by the ‘Bridging the Gap’ consortium – explains how, for years, people mistakenly thought that IDRA only helped Muslims: ‘We were discriminated against, and every year we struggle to renew our registration with the local council. Through the programme, I learnt to engage more with the community and the council and from the various projects we implemented, IDRA now has the community’s full support. The Islamic Council in South Sudan, in recognition of our contributions has recently nominated us to speak on the role of women in conflict resolution and Gender Based Violence (GBV).’

 

Joan Jane Moses, who works for the Diocese of Kajo Keji, explained: ‘Before taking part in the Bridge Builders project, we were simply seen as a church. At the moment we are facing the coronavirus pandemic, but we’re seeing how this model has equipped us with the skills to take part in humanitarian coordination meetings and access life-saving funds to support returnees living in the refugee camps.’ 

 

Tearfund’s Country Director in South Sudan, Anthony Rama, said: ‘Churches and people of all faiths live in the communities they serve before, during and after times of crisis. They can offer long term sustainability and are uniquely placed to understand the needs and possible solutions for the communities that they serve and belong to.’ 

 

The following key recommendations are explained in more detail in a report entitled Bridge Builders: Strengthening the role of local faith actors in humanitarian response in South Sudan – A two-way model for sharing capacity and strengthening a localised response

  • When aid agencies and local faith leaders and communities share their skills and knowledge, humanitarian response can be more effective. 
  • Faith leaders and communities in South Sudan are ready, willing and able to engage with the wider humanitarian system.
  • International humanitarian workers and agencies have much to learn from local faith leaders and communities, who have vast experience and understanding of their local context. International humanitarian responders should examine and remove the barriers that have stopped them from partnering with local faith leaders and communities previously.
  • Equipping local faith leaders and communities with humanitarian skills training will mean they are better placed to participate in decision making and more successful when applying for funding.
  • In-depth learning opportunities over a longer period are more effective, especially if funding is also provided to enable local faith leaders and communities to put what they are learning into practice. 
  • The replicable two-way ‘Bridge Builder’ model trialled in this research would enable widespread collaboration between local faith leaders and other humanitarian responders. 

 

ENDS

 

For further information or interview requests call Esther Trewinnard on 07783 409045 or Tearfund Media Team on 020 3906 3131.  For out of hours media enquiries please call 07929 339813.

  

Notes:

  1. There are 1,989 confirmed cases and 36 COVID-19 deaths reported in South Sudan. With a struggling health system, the country is not well equipped to handle this new crisis. See: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/south-sudan/
  2. The World Humanitarian Summit in 2016 marked a moment of general recognition that an imbalance of power exists in humanitarian work. INGOs too often lead and hold the purse strings, leaving too little space for local actors to influence decision making. The summit concluded that humanitarian aid should be ‘as local as possible, as international as necessary’ (UN, 2016).
  3. Link to Bridge Builders: Strengthening the role of local faith actors in humanitarian response in South Sudan 
  4. South Sudanese researchers Wani Laki Anthony and Kuyang Logo were embedded as participant observers to analyse the implementation of the ‘Bridge Builder’ model and its effectiveness. International relief and development agencies, Tearfund, Islamic Relief, and RedR, worked with local South Sudanese partners including the Diocese of Kajo Keji and the Islamic Development and Relief Agency. The research elements of the project were overseen by Prof. Emma Tomalin, University of Leeds, and Dr. Olivia Wilkinson, Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities. The Research Team implemented the research over 15 months (Oct 2018 – Dec 2019) documenting all project details through an ethnographic approach. The team interviewed 48 people, including local faith actors and local, national and international organizations. 
  5. This research was funded by the Federal Government of Belgium, Directorate-general Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid.
  6. RedR Uk Associate Trainer, Colin Walker, said: ‘Remote coaching support was initially a challenge as many agency directors were located deep in rural villages, but they travelled to where there was 3G network and I coached over WhatsApp calls and a question-and-answer system by sending voice messages and photos.  Six months after finishing the project, I am still in touch with many participants.’ 
  7. Images featured in the report are available on request. Please contact [email protected] to request images and accompanying captions and credits. 

 

Tearfund is a Christian relief and development agency and a member of the Disasters’ Emergency Committee. Tearfund has been working around the world for more than 50 years responding to disasters and helping lift communities out of poverty.  Find out more at www.tearfund.org.

 

Islamic Relief is an independent non-governmental organisation (NGO) founded in the UK in 1984 by a group of medical doctors and activists. Find out more at islamic-relief.org.uk

 

RedR UK has 40 years of experience building the skills and knowledge of humanitarian workers and affected communities to respond to crises such as disease outbreaks, conflicts and natural disasters.  Between 2010 and 2019, we improved the capacity of 57,726 humanitarian workers in 35 countries to respond effectively to humanitarian crises. Find out more at redr.org.uk

 

The Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities (JLI) is an international network of academics, practitioners and policymakers building evidence of faith groups’ activities and contributions to local health, well being and ending poverty. The JLI works through cross-sector, multi-religious, collaborative learning hubs and knowledge partnerships to gather evidence and convene partners to improve policy and practice. Find out more at jliflc.com 

 

Islamic Development and Relief Agency (IDRA) is a fast growing indigenous faith based humanitarian, relief and development not-for-profit NGO registered in South Sudan. Find out more at idrassudan.org

Date/Time
Date(s) - 30/06/2020
1:30 pm - 2:30 pm

Categories


A joint JLI – WFDD – Berkley Center Initiative on COVID-19

Faith organizations and communities are playing critical roles in the humanitarian response to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Young feminist women of faith constitute an important part of this response, and yet they remain a largely unnoticed and untapped constituency in this pandemic. Even though they are at the forefront of the crisis as health workers and primary caregivers delivering care and services following faith-inspired principles of solidarity and compassion, their leadership is frequently overlooked. They are setting examples of transformative leadership within their faith communities, challenging the limited role attributed to women from centuries of strict interpretation of sacred texts. This type of leadership pushes for new frontiers of advocacy to bring lasting and transformative change that will help safeguard future generations of young women. Young women of faith have important roles to play in the COVID-19 crisis, especially in reimagining a better future. It is crucial to understand the importance of engaging with this key constituency and to amplify their leadership as gender equality advocates in their communities and organizations. One path is to ensure that they tell their stories and that they are heard.

This event began with a musical interpretation of the COVID-19 crisis by Jamie Medicine Crane, a Blackfoot woman from the Kainai and Piikani Nations in Alberta. Lopa Banerjee, director of the Civil Society Division at UN Women, framed the discussion, which was then moderated by Berkley Center Senior Fellow Katherine Marshall and staff member Ruth Gopin. Dr. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, executive director of UN Women, and three young female leaders of their respective faith communities considered the strength and resilience that young women of faith exhibit in times of crisis and how to sustain this leadership beyond the pandemic.

This event was co-sponsored by Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs; UN Women; Baha’i International Community; Milstein Center for Interreligious Dialogue; World Young Women’s Christian Association; Anglican Communion; and the Joint Learning Initiative.

Click here to view the webinar

Click here to view the speakers’ biographies

Click here to read the Concept Note

Read more about the joint JLI-WFDD-Berkley Center COVID-19 and Faith Initiative here

A Statement from the Staff:  

It’s in our name! We stand for joint learning, understanding faith-based approaches, and local communities. JLI works with people around the world to learn about and share information (positive and negative) on the impact of faith groups in local communities and to support local leadership for positive change. True solidarity with local leaders requires us to be actively anti-racist and to operate in ways that affirm the need for equity and justice. The admirable aim to localize humanitarian and development work is defeated because we continuously fail to cede power to local partners. We support our staff members who are participating in the #BlackLivesMatter movement and assert that the lives of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, and all black women, men, girls, and boys, whose lives have been cut short through racism, matter.

Racial justice and decolonizing development are among the topics we reflect on and study in our work.  But now, joining the growing response to the injustice of systemic racism so painfully demonstrated, we commit to re-examining our way of working, to be explicit about the changes we aspire to make, and to holding ourselves to account. Acknowledging that we are participants, not observers, in oppressive systems, we want to do our part to end systemic racism in the US and elsewhere, and to dismantle discriminatory power structures in the humanitarian and development systems in which we operate.

We are based in the US with collaborators around the world. We recognize that our geographic location, backgrounds, networks, language, and a host of other material and immaterial advantages give us the extraordinary privilege and opportunity to support and effect change. In 2017, at the convening of the conference “Localizing Response to Humanitarian Need: The Role of Religious and Faith-Based Actors,” local faith actors shared their experiences of discrimination and exclusion by international actors, frequently white people with decision-making power. At the end of the conference, participants committed to using our privilege to support local and national faith actors by:

  • Sharing and amplifying the evidence of local faith actor contributions to humanitarian response,
  • Building mutual understanding and relationships between international actors and local faith actors,
  • Educating others on the role of local faith actors and advocating for their inclusion.

We affirm now to our national and local partners that we remain committed to these goals, and to strengthen the evidence base in which they are grounded, while also recognizing that there is even more that we can do to achieve them and work in solidarity. We seek to support and amplify the positions of local actors and believe that shifting power to local actors can reverse this course.

We are committed, above all else, to the local leadership of humanitarian and development systems, and to supporting the agency of national and local faith and non-faith actors. As a small staff team we commit to intensifying our ongoing efforts, to make these changes internally, and to hold ourselves to annual account to these standards and aspirations:

  • Advance the evidence-based case to our international humanitarian and development partners for their recognition and inclusion of the agency and leadership of local actors.
  • Counter discriminatory attitudes and practices from international faith and non-faith actors by speaking out when we witness it.
  • Allocate funding specifically for academics and actors from the Global South in all future budgets. Partner with scholars and consultants from the countries where research is taking place through the entirety of the research process from inception to conclusion.
  • Neither convene nor participate in discussions without diverse speakers.
  • Raise up the voices of black researchers, religious leaders, and humanitarian and development practitioners.
  • Ensure that published reports and bibliographies cite an inclusive and diverse representation of scholars.
  • Support further diversification and inclusivity of the JLI Board, Learning Hubs, and research partnerships.
  • Hold regular conversations among the staff team for a review of progress against these commitments, and for critique and questioning.
  • Speak up individually within our circles of professional and personal influence.
  • Encourage all our member organizations and institutions to speak out and make commitments on the topic of racism, decolonization, and full commitment to full localization in the humanitarian and development sectors.

There is no peace without justice. We stand in solidarity with people who are suffering from racial discrimination and commit to working together for a just, peaceful world.

Signed by the JLI Staff, 19 June 2020, (in recognition of Juneteenth in the United States)

Kirsten Laursen Muth, Jean Duff, Olivia Wilkinson, Rima Alshawkani, and Stacy Nam.

Here are some selected resources that we’ve recently found to be helpful:

Statements from JLI affiliates (please email us to add your statement):

https://irusa.org/in-solidarity/

https://www.worldvision.org/president-statement-racial-injustice

https://adra.org/denouncingracialinequality

https://ajws.org/press-releases/statement-robert-bank-george-floyd-institutional-racism-in-us/

https://corusinternational.org/blog/2020/corus-international-condemns-racism

https://mediacentre.christianaid.org.uk/christian-aid-statement-on-black-lives-matter/

https://www.tearfundusa.org/blog/our-commitment-to-racial-justice

 

 

 

JLI’s Staff and Ending Violence Against Children Hub recognizes the contributions of JLI’s Intern Mary Hill. For the past six months, Mary worked on supporting the JLI EVAC Hub including the EVAC Hub’s strategic communications plan, developing content for communications, especially webinars, social media, and the JLI website, and drawing on evidence from the scoping study to support communications.

Thank you Mary Hill for your great work!

We wish you well at Berkley Law School and future endeavors!

Date/Time
Date(s) - 18/06/2020
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Categories


Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs

A joint JLI – WFDD – Berkley Center Initiative on COVID-19

How people experience the COVID-19 emergency varies in different settings. This webinar focused on Mexico and the pandemic’s intersection with the long-standing crisis around the borderlands between the United States, Mexico, and the northern triangle countries of Central America. How is the pandemic experienced by different civil society organizations, particularly religiously linked communities? What new programs and processes are emerging in response to the current crisis? How are continuing programs affected? Have promised efforts to reimagine a post-COVID-19 world begun?

This conversation builds on continuing discussions that focus on adaptation of faith-inspired programs during this unprecedented global pandemic. It looks to direct, lived experience of different institutions and explores comparisons as well as emerging ideas on future directions.

View the Berkley event page here

This brief highlights contributions to the webinar.

Read more about the joint JLI-WFDD-Berkley Center COVID-19 and Faith Initiative here

 

Survey: Religious Leaders’ Perspectives on Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The coronavirus pandemic has severely impacted people’s lives all over the world. In this unprecedented situation, the perspectives of religious leaders are of fundamental importance. The Research Programme on Religious Communities and Sustainable Development at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin Prof. Dr. Wilhelm Gräb, Marie-Luise Frost, Philipp Öhlmann, Dr. Ekkardt Sonntag, Juliane Stork is conducting an Online-Survey: Religious Leaders’ Perspectives on Corona.

 

How are religious leaders guiding their communities in the current situation and what is their vision for the time after the pandemic?

The survey is available in English, French or Arabic, choose from the drop down at the top right

The survey is addressed to leaders of all religious communities, as well as leaders of inter-confessional or interreligious organisations. It will take approx. 15 minutes. Please send this survey to other religious leaders in your context or circle of influence.