Archive for the ‘women’ tag
On November 3rd at 7:30pm, the University of Chicago’s majestic Rockefeller Chapel will be filled with the dynamic sounds of West African drumming and the ethereal 12th century chant of Hildegard of Bingen. As the combined chants of many different traditions reach a crescendo, the chapel will be bathed in light and the ringing of the Rockefeller Carillon, the second-largest musical instrument in the world.
An hour of music and readings honoring women across time and traditions, “Bearing the Light: Honoring Our Spiritual Foremothers” will feature the all-women’s percussion ensemble Diamana Diya, directed by Helen Bond and Amy Lusk, and acclaimed sopranos Laura Lynch, Jillian Krickl, and Alessandra Visconti, as well as classical Indian dance and the soulful sounds of chant from Christian, Hindu, Jain, Jewish, Muslim, Native American, and other spiritual traditions.
“Bearing the Light: Honoring Our Spiritual Foremothers” marks the inauguration of the Women’s Task Force at the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religion. The Women’s Task Force seeks to assure that women’s voices are heard at the vital nexus of women’s issues, religion, and spiritual leadership. “This is a night to celebrate the courage and wisdom and love of the women who have gone before us, and to inspire one another to speak from the deepest truths of our lives today,” explained the Rev. Dr. Anne Benevenuti, co-chair of the Women’s Task Force.
This event is free and open to the public, and takes place at Rockefeller Chapel, at 5850 South Woodlawn Avenue on the campus of the University of Chicago. A dessert reception follows with spirited conversations.
Come join us for an uplifting evening of world music and interfaith spirituality in Chicago, marking inauguration of the Women’s Task Force at the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religion! RSVP at www.facebook.com/events/
by Julia Meltzer and Laura Nix, Filmmakers, “The Light in Her Eyes”
In a courtyard off a busy street in Damascus, Syria, boisterous girls run and play before class starts in the women’s side of Al-Zahra mosque. Inside the mosque, preacher Houda al-Habash teaches the Qur’an, educating women and girls about their religion, and their rights, within their faith. Julia Meltzer lived in Damascus in 2005, and from the moment she first entered Al-Zahra mosque, she recognized what a unique place it was. Houda’s school was well-organized and energized—filled with women and girls supporting each other in their studies.
Most people don’t associate Islam with women’s rights, and that’s exactly what we found interesting about the Al-Zahra Mosque Qur’an School. Inside this community, we uncovered a lively debate about women’s roles as mothers, teachers, wives, workers, sisters and daughters. Houda insists that secular education is an integral part of worship, because it gives her students the tools to make decisions about their futures. However, the school also emphasizes the importance of modesty and piety. These women and girls are following “the straight path” of Islam, because they want to live according to its structure, rules and ethics.
Houda’s version of women’s rights doesn’t look like ours. We were raised in the West by feminist mothers, grew up attending marches for reproductive freedom and identify as third-wave feminists. But the deeper we dove into Houda’s community, the more we realized how much our guidelines for judging women’s liberation and autonomy were informed by the parameters of our culture and experiences. As filmmakers, we believe it’s our job to understand our subjects, and to tell truthful stories about their worlds.
Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi, will appoint a woman as one of his vice presidents and a Christian as another, his policy adviser told CNN.
“For the first time in Egyptian history — not just modern but in all Egyptian history — a woman will take that position,” Ahmed Deif told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Monday. “And it’s not just a vice president who will represent a certain agenda and sect, but a vice president who is powerful and empowered and will be taking care of critical advising within the presidential Cabinet.”
Nairobi (Kenya) 2 March 2012. The Global Peace Initiative of Women (GPIW), a non-governmental organization of contemplative leaders based in the United States, held today an environmental conference at the headquarters of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) in Nairobi.
The meeting, entitled Awakening the Healing Heart, focused on how civil society, especially women and religious leaders, can mobilize awareness and action to protect the environment and promote sustainable development.
The challenges facing the environment today has created a new urgency within faith communities to build a global consciousness around sustainable development. An international delegation from the GPIW conference will form part of the inter-faith component attending the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in Brazil in June 2012.
The meeting brought together over 300 women religious and community leaders, environmentalists and advocates from 28 countries and from all the major faith traditions, including among others H.H. Shinso Ito, head priest of Shinnyo-en, Japan; Reverand Dr. Celestin Musekura, founder of African Leadership and Reconciliation Ministries, Rwanda/USA; Ms. Wang Yongchen, founder of Green Earth Volunteers, China and Dr. Sakeena Yacoobi, founder of the Afghan Institute of Learning.
by Omar Sacirbey
from the Washington Post
Jean Younis won’t be wearing an Easter bonnet at church this Sunday. Instead, the office manager at Bonita Valley Adventist Church in National City, Calif., will don an Islamic headscarf to support the family and friends of Shaima Alawadi, the Iraqi immigrant and mother of five who died March 24, three days after being beaten in her home in El Cajon, Calif.
“I do expect a reaction, but that’s the point. It needs to be discussed,” said Younis, 59, who predicted that most church members would be supportive or respectfully inquisitive.
She is one of many non-Muslim women to post photos of themselves wearing a headscarf on “One Million Hijabs for Shaima Alawadi,” a recently created Facebook Page that had nearly 10,000 likes on Monday (April 2) and hundreds of photos. Others posting on the page have identified themselves as Catholics, Quakers, Mennonites, Jews, Pagans, and atheists.
by Rabbi Jack Bemporad, Rev. Dr. James A. Kowalski, and Susan Barnett
from Huffington Post
We don’t honor God when 4,500 children die every day — but they do — from the lack of something so simple, each of us takes it for granted: a safe glass of water.
Four thousand five hundred children — that’s one every 20 seconds, a little life extinguished.
While the last couple of years have seen an increase in awareness about the global water crisis, it’s still the No. 1 killer of children around the globe. Safe water and sanitation remains the greatest under-recognized global humanitarian crisis we face and its impact is staggering. It’s the world’s dirty secret.
Almost a billion people do not have access to safe water globally and 2.5 billion lack the dignity of basic sanitation. This lack of access translates into more stunning numbers:
- 50 percent of all malnutrition is due to the lack of safe water and sanitation
- As is 80 percent of all disease
- Half of the world’s hospital beds are filled by patients suffering from water-borne diseases
- This leading killer of children under five kills more children than malaria, AIDS and TB combined
- The result is a catastrophic 2 million, mostly preventable deaths, every year.
We fight malaria but poor sanitation increases breeding grounds for malaria-carrying mosquitoes. We spend millions making sure HIV/AIDS patients get the anti-retroviral drugs they need, but they take these drugs with disease-ridden water.
Current U.S. funding for water and sanitation development amounts to less than one one-hundredth of a percent of the federal budget. Yet for every dollar invested, there’s an economic return of $8.
With all the good work the faiths do, from malnutrition to malaria, it’s all being undercut by the overarching absence of clean water and sanitation. Not prioritizing the global water crisis defies logic. It prevents productivity, increases poverty and inequality for women.
by Katie Taylor
from the Center for Interfaith Action on Global Poverty.
Ms. Fatima Gerbil knows from personal experience the challenges children in her community face. As a child Fatuma became an orphan, and as she grew older, she began to understand more and more the personal burden carried by parentless children.
In 2003, she started the Community-Based Child Support Program, directed at both Christians and Muslims, in Bahirdar, Ethopia, which began with 87 children. Fatuma’s program focuses on educational and psychological support, as well as developing life- skills. An important part of her advocacy efforts is encouraging schools to provide financial support for orphaned children who cannot afford school fees. These include children who have lost one parent, those who have lost both parents, and those who are in living in great poverty. For children who have lost only one parent, Fatuma works to support that family financially and emotionally. For children who have lost both parents, they look for relatives, and support the family once the child is taken in.
What I find most inspirational about Fatuma‘s story was not only her passion for helping children in her community but how she is willing to try anything to improve the lives of these children. This includes leveraging religious leaders to support her cause, and she has an excellent working relationship with the imams as well as with other government and community leaders.
Fatuma also believes Imams can play a great role in eliminating harmful traditional practices such as child marriage. Imams are highly heard in the mosque. So if they speak out boldly on these harmful traditional practices, it will be easy to bring about the desired change.
Fatuma has become talented at leveraging religious institutions to support her initiatives. Thanks to her efforts, at the ritual Muslim engagement ceremony, it is now established practice for the couple to be asked, in private, if they love each other. The man will also be asked if he understands the woman’s rights. Fatuma has also established an impressive record of legal interventions in unlawful marriages with underage girls or polygamous arrangements. Her role in the community as the protector of the vulnerable has allowed her to expand her advocacy and she looks forward to establishing her programs in new neighborhoods to spread her message of equality.
Katie Taylor is Executive Director of The Center for Interfaith Action on Global Poverty (CIFA) CIFA engages and trains leaders from multiple faith traditions to deliver critical development messages and services. These messages link interfaith efforts with those of civil society and governmental campaigns to reduce poverty and disease.
This article is part of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation series: My Female Faith Hero honouring International Women’s Day
by Harvey H. Guthrie
from Episcopal News, Los Angeles
This is a book by women, addressed to women. This male reviewer is related to it as a visitor is to the House of Representatives: as one not on the floor but in the gallery. I did not, nevertheless, feel at all an unwanted voyeur. The spirit of what is going on makes transparency and openness natural and necessary. It is a hundred and eighty degrees opposite the old boy, insider vs. outsider, secretive, male arena in which my early formation took place. The spirit of what is there is also a hundred and eighty degrees opposite the traditional masculine hierarchical models of leadership and process (to lift a line from page 4).
The editors, all from the United States, came together at the 2009 Parliament of World Religions in Australia, each having been impressed by how that gathering was “bursting with feminine energy,” about how “People everywhere were talking about Earth-based spirituality, the Sacred Feminine, feminine principles, the full inclusion of women, women’s leadership, and the critical global issues facing women and their children.” (Page 3) The book originated in the large “we” of a global gathering, in the global feminine “we” so present in that gathering, and then in the fourfold “we” of the editors, who are a consultant to women’s organizations not currently affiliated with any religion, a pioneer in the interfaith movement and founder of the Listening Center, a Lutheran lay teacher, and an ordained Mahayanna Chan Buddhist nun.
As they reflected on where to go from there in the United States, they saw an opportunity to build a larger field of collaboration and action with bridges of understanding between the many and diverse feminist networks and women’s leadership initiatives including bridges between secular and religious/spiritual initiatives, and to enable a leadership style embodying the deepest feminine wisdom and catalyzing social change through sharing and listening. This led to the founding of Women of Spirit and Faith in 2010, and to a gathering in 2011, the theme of which was The Alchemy of Our Spiritual Leadership: Women Redefining Power. The book points to “a sense of mystery wrapped around the word alchemy, an invitation to surrender to the unknown together and be changed.” (Page 5) The book is an exploration of that mystery, of where it might lead, and of aids to surrendering to it – all based on the concrete experience of women and on the redefining power of the Sacred Feminine.
by Kathleen Hurty, PhD
One of the many creative fruits of the 2009 Parliament of World Religions held in Melbourne, Australia, is a newly minted nonprofit network called Women of Spirit and Faith. The birth of this group is a fast-paced, wondrous story of connection and collaboration growing out of chance meetings in Melbourne and at follow-up events!
Four of us from the U.S. west coast—Kathe Schaaf, Kay Lindahl, Reverend Guo Cheen and myself—were drawn by the spirit of the Divine Feminine, so alive at the Parliament and especially stimulated by Sr. Joan Chittister, to come together and explore what it means to be women leaders in today’s chaotic world from a spiritual and/or faith-centered perspective. Women’s leadership is a popular topic, but often missing is any conversation about the importance of spiritual grounding to anchor, deepen and empower women’s authentic leadership.
We started with many questions—in fact, questions are at the heart of our work. What does it mean to be empowered women of spirit and faith? What is the divine feminine calling us to do/be?
In the course of 2010 we four met in person, connected on numerous conference calls, started a group on PeaceNext.org, held a retreat, became a 501(c)3 organization, developed a website, and began work on a major interactive networking conference titled The Alchemy of our Spiritual Leadership: Women Re-defining Power, which was held in April of 2011 with 150 women in attendance.
That event led to yet another connection—an invitation to edit a book on the event’s theme! In early 2011, we “gave birth” to the collaborative venture—a book entitled Women, Spirituality and Transformative Leadership: Where Grace Meets Power. We are deeply grateful for the 26 authors who chose to participate, to the talented team at SkyLight Paths Publishing Company, and to all who have purchased books to make us a No. 1 best seller in our category on Amazon!
Our approach is circular. We have fostered a group of young leaders to expand the effectiveness of our core circle, we encourage the development of local self-organizing circles, and we hold book events in which we model the circle approach to the discussion of key questions. We are looking forward to sharing what we have learned at the 2014 Parliament of World Religions in Brussels. The impact of that chance meeting at the last Parliament will continue—for me, for my colleague co-founders of Women of Spirit and Faith, and for all who participate in the amazing, challenging and richly rewarding work of transformative leadership—where grace meets power and makes a profound difference.
The Young Feminist Wire is announcing its FINAL call for registration for the last TWO sessions of 2011 in its e-learning series ‘Interrogating Movements’. Deadline for registrations for both sessions: November 28, 2011.
In response to rising social unrest all over the world, more discussions are happening in online spaces such as Twitter and the blogosphere on effective organizing practices and how to build movements that lead to social change. The Young Feminist Wire launched a series of e-learning sessions in the summer of 2011 to provide a space for women rights advocates and activists, especially young women, to reflect on their own organizing practices by drawing from examples from the current changing global political context.
The final two e-learning sessions of 2011 will be held on the 2nd and 9th of December and will focus on the global trend of rising religious fundamentalisms and its impact on women’s rights. The first session on the 2nd of December will provide an overview and space to discuss some of the concepts related to the term ‘religious fundamentalisms’. The following session on the 9th of December will focus on the way religious fundamentalisms function to obstruct rights and feminist counter-strategies to challenge them. Click HERE for session descriptions and further detail.