Religious and Faith-based Contributions to the Well-being of Children

The Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities (JLI) is pleased to announce the initiation of a partnership with UNICEF over the next three years. The project, titled “Faith for Social and Behaviour Change Initiative” is a collaboration with the UNICEF Communication for Development in Programme Division and the Civil Society Partnerships Unit in the Division of Communication.The research aims to generate knowledge on the specific roles, caveats, effective strategies and demonstrated impact of faith-based organizations in social and behaviour change. The project will look across sectors including health, development, protection and empowerment of children, especially focusing on the most marginalized, across the life-cycle.

Project activities in 2018 will include a literature review, country-specific case studies, content review, and mapping culminating in the translation of this evidence into a conceptual framework and models for systematic engagement with FBOs at scale for social and behavior change. The partners will collaborate with Religions for Peace to hold a multi-country consultation in Bangkok in July to input into the programmatic framework.

Dr. Olivia Wilkinson, JLI Director of Research, will oversee the research work focused on evidence generation, development of programming frameworks, and provision of technical support for engagement of FBOs in social and behavior change communications. Jean Duff, JLI Coordinator will provide guidance on the conceptual framework for scaling up collaboration with the faith community for impact on the well-being of children. Stacy Nam, JLI Knowledge Manager, will support the research and promote collaboration with relevant JLI Learning Hubs and facilitate a “whole of JLI network” engagement in this project.

For more information please contact the Joint Learning Initiative’s Director of Research, Dr. Olivia Wilkinson at [email protected]

The Center for Faith and the Common Good (CFCG) is pleased to announce the receipt of a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation’s Program on Religion in International Affairs, to be carried out by The Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities (JLI). The project, titled “Religion, Refugees, and Forced Migration: Making Research-informed Impact in Global Policy Processes” will be in collaboration with Dr. Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh at University College London and with the support of Atallah Fitzgibbon at Islamic Relief Worldwide, the co-chairs of the JLI Refugees and Forced Migration Learning Hub. Dr. Olivia Wilkinson, JLI Director of Research, will oversee the work focused on the translation of research for impact on policy and practice.
Project activities will include the production of policy guidelines and annotated bibliographies that synchronize existing research on faith and refugees with the three main themes of the programme of action for the Global Compact on Refugees (reception and admission, meeting needs and supporting communities, durable solutions). Other activities will focus on outreach through newspaper articles, podcast episodes, infographics, press releases, media packs, and social media messaging. To ensure that these activities reach the right people, the researchers will also undertake a mapping exercise of key influencers and then arrange a series of consultations and briefings to reach out to specific groups in global hubs of decision making and activity on refugee response. Briefings are planned in New York around the General Assembly in September as well as in Geneva, and Beirut or Amman.
These research translation activities will coincide with the final stages of the development and then adoption of the Global Compact on Refugees. They will help to inform new audiences in the humanitarian and development field of the existing and growing evidence base on religious belief, practice, and faith-based work related to refugees.
For more information please contact the Joint Learning Initiative’s Director of Research, Dr. Olivia Wilkinson at [email protected].

Side event at the Asia Pacific Forum for Sustainable Development 2018

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Organizers: World Vision International (WVI), ACT Alliance, Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW), Soka Gakkai International (SGI), Arigatou International

World Vision, ACT Alliance, Islamic Relief, Soka Gakkai International, Arigatou International, global faith based organizations launched the Asia Pacific Faith-based Coalition for sustainable development (APFC) on 28 March in collaboration with Asia Civil Society Partnership on Sustainable Development.

The objective of this coalition is to provide greater impetus to the voices of faith communities and effectively engage in Asia pacific regional development discourse feeding to global processes, such as the SDGs. This is an open, inclusive coalition representing different faiths towards achieving sustainable development and peace.

The forum will support the presentation of voluntary national reviews and will assess the progress made with regard to the regional roadmap for implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific.

 

Session Moderator

Mr. Norbert Hsu, Regional Leader, East Asia Region, World Vision International (WVI)

Panelists/discussants

  • John Patrick Murray | National Catholic Commission on Migration, Thailand
  • Hiro Sakrai | Director of the Office for UN Affairs, Soka Gakkai International
  • Masud Siddique | Head of Asia Region, Islamic Relief Worldwide
  • Anselmo Lee | Senior Advisor, ADA and APSD
  • Shinji Kubo | Officer – in – Charge, UNHCR Representative in Bangkok, Thailand

The discussion addressed the role of faith in making communities resilient and socially cohesive to achieve sustainable development.

The initial work of the coalition will include mapping faith-based organization (FBO & Faith actor) work in relation to sustainable development in Asia Pacific. Results from their initial survey found that many organizations worked to address SDGs #1, 2, 5 followed by 3, 16 & 17.

*from the introduction ppt presented at the forum by Anoop Sukumaran and Sudarshan Reddy

Read more: Asia Pacific Faith-Based Coalition for Sustainable Development_28 March- Concept Note , World Vision Press Release or APFC launch report

For more information contact Abid Gulzar, Director Advocacy and Justice for Children, World Vision International, ([email protected])

Good Practices with Local Faith Communities Submission

DEADLINE EXTENDED, 30th April 2018

The JLI Refugee Hub is working alongside UNHCR to undertake an analysis of Good Practice Examples of Local Faith Community Responses to Refugees as part of the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) and Global Compact on Refugees processes.

The first stage of the research will identify and examine one or more examples of good practice in each of 7 case study countries:

Honduras, Mexico, Central African Republic, Uganda, Lebanon, Germany, and Bangladesh.

The good practice case studies will be communicated to UNHCR. We will also be working with local researchers to conduct up to 30 interviews with refugees, hosts, and faith leaders in each country to provide evidence from primary research on the good practice case studies. In order to identify good practice case studies, we invite you to submit for consideration good practice examples and recommended interviewees from the 7 countries.

The form will ask you to provide some brief information on the case as well as interview recommendations in the country. The initial findings will be presented at the UNHCR NGO consultations at the end of June.

Please complete the form by COB Eastern Standard Time on the 30th April 2018.

We hope to invite key religious leaders from the case study countries to the events in late June/early July. Please add suggestions to the interview recommendations on the form, identifying them as a religious leader.

We would be grateful if you could circulate this invitation to your colleagues and networks in or with knowledge of the 7 countries.

Again, the link to the form

We will be in touch again in due course to provide further information about the next stage in this 18-month action-research project. This will include capacity building and training elements.

With many thanks and all best wishes,

Dr. Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh                             Atallah Fitzgibbon
University College London                               Islamic Relief Worldwide

JLI Refugee Hub Co-chairs

Event Date

Monday 12 March

  • Women of Faith Speaking to Structural Change: Empowering Rural Women
    Temple of Understanding (Armenian Convention Center, Guild Hall)
  • Empowerment Stories and Interfaith Actions, United Religions Initiative (URI) (Armenian Convention Center, Guild Hall)

Tuesday 13 March

Wednesday 14 March

  • Faith and Feminism: Voices of Affirmation National Public Radio (NPR) Interview with Randy Cohen – Person, Place (Must RSVP)
  • 8:30 am: Frontline Leadership: Rural Women in the Anti-Fracking Movement, Mining Working Group (Salvation Army,  221 E. 52nd Street)

Thursday 15 March

Friday 16, March

  • 10am: Launching the Global Consultation on the Islamic Gender Justice Declaration, Islamic Relief Worldwide (RSVP Required)
  • 12:15pm: Policy Roundtable of the Faith-Based Community of Praxis on Gender Justice, ACT Alliance (Invite only)
  • 6pm: 4th Annual CSW Interfaith Service of Remembrance and Gratitude, . Sponsored by United
    Methodist Women, NGO CSW, URI, Parliament of the World’s Religions, Temple of Understanding, International Federation of Women in Legal Careers (Church Center for the
    United Nations, Tillman Chapel 44th St and 1st Ave)

Monday 19, March

  • 10am: Building Bridges: developing effective partnerships between faith and secular actors to
    challenge discriminatory gender norms and secure rural women’s rights. Co-sponsors: Danish Mission, ACT Alliance, UNFPA (Ex-Press Bar, UN Secretariat (Entrance on East 46th street
    and 1st Avenue)

    • Presentation from JLI GBV Hub
  • 2:30pm: Human Trafficking in America– Risks for women and girls in rural areas and collaborative prevention by Faith-Based Communities, UNICEF USA, Arigatou International, NY Board of Rabbis (Salvation Army  221 E. 52nd Street)

Wednesday 21, March

 

The World Bank is seeking a Senior Communications Officer to lead the FBO Engagement Program. 

Oversight of the FBO Engagement Program
• Oversees the implementation and monitoring of a comprehensive, results-oriented strategy for building and strengthening the WBG’s engagement and partnership building efforts with faith-based and religious organizations and other diverse stakeholders.
• Contributes to the formulation of the WBG’s public position on critical issues pertinent to FBO and religious organizations working in development.
• Develops and systematically maintains high-level networks and contacts with FBOs and religious organizations across the globe and serves as liaison with a diverse group of influencers.
• In close collaboration with WBG operational units, explores opportunities for operational partnerships with development-focused FBOs and religious organizations.
• Tracks and analyzes key issues of importance to FBO-WBG relations, advises senior management, CommNet managers/advisors, and others on important policy issues, opportunities and risks.
• Oversees strategic planning, coordination and logistics around high-level fora and events aimed at advancing the WB’s developing priorities and bringing faith based organizations and leaders into these discussions.

General Support of the Stakeholder Engagement Program
• Supports key institutional initiatives and advocacy efforts, and works closely and collaboratively with others focused on constituency engagement – civil society, foundations, parliamentarians and other key stakeholders.
• Supports the development and management of tools that enhance Bank staff capacity to effectively engage with broad set of global stakeholders I.e. a Stakeholder Engagement Resource Guide and Training workshops
• Fosters concrete partnerships with diverse stakeholders as part of a broad-based movement to end poverty and boost shared prosperity.
• Prepares or oversees preparation of major communications products, including briefing notes and speeches for senior management.
• Represents the WBG in various fora related to global development, faith and related issues and addresses range of stakeholders (including FBO and religious leaders, UN and government officials, civil society, etc.)

 

For more information see here and to apply

Working effectively with faith leaders to challenge harmful traditional practices

Date: Thursday, Feb 8 at 9am ET  (2pm GMT) via zoom

Traditional cultural practices reflect values and beliefs held by members of a community for periods often spanning generations. Every social grouping in the world has specific traditional cultural practices and beliefs, some of which are beneficial to all members, while others are harmful to a specific group, such as women.

In 2017, the JLI Gender-based Violence Hub (GBV Hub) led a Department for International Development supported project ‘Working effectively with faith leaders to challenge harmful traditional practices (HTPs)’.

Study Speakers

  • Dr Elisabet le Roux is the Research Director at the Unit for Religion and Development Research at Stellenbosch University
  • Dr Brenda Bartelink is an anthropologist and scholar in the Academic Study of Religion at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands

Discussion led by  JLI GBV Hub co-chair Liz Dartnall (Sexual Violence Research Institute) with Hub coordinator Natalia Lester-Bush (Tearfund)

Join as a member to continue collaborating with the GBV Hub

Brief Summary

Presentation from Lisa le Roux and Brenda Bartelink

Key findings

  • Discussed the use of the term harmful traditional practices creating resistance in communities
  • Role of faith, faith communities and faith leaders in HTPs
  • Effective approaches when working with faith leaders

Study Briefs

Discussion:

  • What is the desired impact of engaging with faith leaders around these texts, and perhaps changing the way that they interpret them? ie. for them to begin talking about them within communities, or individually with people, or mentioning in talks etc?
  • Are the small group based interventions mixed gender, or specifically targeting men/women separately? And secondly, is there any long term studies in this area?
  • How would you go about opening up these sorts of questions when they are so sensitive… what if the members of a small discussion group just do not bring them up? Did Tearfund/ Islamic Relief have any experiences where that would occur and how did they respond?
  • On how to prioritize HTPs in local communities- best to let the local communities prioritize their own issues. It’s their decision whether to work on HTPs. Also acknowledging that faith aspects are a part of local communities and not the sole factor to consider.
  • Many other organizations to be in touch with ex on FGM/C www.28toomany.org
  • Feel free to share more programs and resources on the JLI website

Please feel free to continue the discussion in the comment section and join as a member.

The GBV Hub will also be presenting results at CSW in NY on March 19, more details to follow shortly.

Repost from Refugee Hosts 

Efforts to bring local faith actors (LFAs) into the wider humanitarian apparatus have been a key aim of the localisation of aid agenda. In this piece, Olivia Wilkinson (Director of Research of Refugee Hosts’ research partner, the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith & Local Communities) argues that there is a need to ensure that such engagements provide space for LFAs to remain faith actors, while also aligning them with international humanitarian principles. This requires us to reflect on the histories and values underpinning humanitarian principles, as well as the agency, complexity and nuance of local faith actors and refugees. For suggested readings on this theme, see the reading list at the end of this article, as well as our ongoing series, Contextualising the Localisation of Aid Agenda, for more. 

When Local Faith Actors Meet Localisation: Understanding the Space between the International and the Local in relation to Humanitarian Principles and Religion

By Olivia Wilkinson, Trinity College Dublin and JLI Director of Research 

In late 2016, the Joint Learning Initiative’s Refugee and Forced Migration Learning Hub -a Hub co-chaired by Refugee Hosts’ PI, Dr. Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh and Islamic Relief’s Sadia Kidwai – began scoping out what is known about the place of religion in refugee response. The overarching project was split into two studies: the first analysing religion and refugees in regards to localisation and urbanisation, in recognition that refugees increasingly live outside camp settings and that local faith actors (LFAs) are active in aiding refugees in urban settings; and the second to examine the stages and spaces of refugee experience in relation to religion, to understand the moments at which religion and religious actors play a role in the trajectory of refugee journeys and the places in which these interactions happen. The first part of the scoping study was launched in October 2017 at the “Localizing Humanitarian Response Forum: The Role of Religious and Faith-Based Organizations” in Sri Lanka, which Estella Carpi wrote about in an earlier post in this series. The second part of the study will be launched towards the end of this year.

Echoing Estella’s post, in addition to other pieces published on Refugee Hosts (herehere and here), the study speaks to the opportunities and challenges of engaging with local religious actors in refugee response. The state of the art literature review and the interviews with key experts that underpinned the study found that religion adds immediate complexity to the localisation debate, often in ways that can be controversial and are therefore sidelined. While we found a multitude of ways in which local religious actors provide services for refugees, it is a struggle to find mention of these actors in any of the main documents tied to the localisation of aid (see page 14 of the report for some examples). While the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) includes faith-based organisations (FBOs) as stakeholders, the specificities of LFAs in their different contexts requires detailed analysis that is not included in the use of the broad-brush term, “FBO”.

The challenges faced in engaging local faith actors in refugee response are not new just because localisation is the current buzzword. The reasons why LFAs are not more involved in international humanitarian response for refugees have always been the same: religious actors can be party to the conflicts that drive forced migration; they can be partial in their assistance, prioritizing those of the same faith and overlooking those of other faiths; they can enforce cultural and gendered stereotypes; they proselytize, using their assistance to convert vulnerable people to their religion; and they are overburdened and lack the capacity to comply with humanitarian standards. Some of these points are common to other local actors as they are politically and socially embedded and equally lacking in capacity to keep up with the demands of international humanitarian donors.

Yet LFAs continue to respond to refugees around the world, including in urban environments. If we are to believe in the earnestness of the call to localise from the international humanitarian community, then this must naturally include LFAs. To be involved in localisation, LFAs must overcome, and international actors must equally find ways to overcome, these barriers so that equal partnerships can develop.

From the research, there were several examples of ways in which these challenges were encountered, yet had been, to greater and lesser extents, overcome. To dive in the deep end, it is often held that for LFAs to be fully inducted into the international humanitarian community, they must not proselytise their faith. This standard is of course crucial, allowing humanitarian actors to ensure that assistance is given freely and without conditions.

The literature paints a more nuanced picture however. First, it is often dangerous, or highly disadvantageous to convert. In research from Kaoues in Lebanon, it was found that Muslim converts to Christianity were doubly rejected, both from the Muslim refugee population of which they had previously been part, and the Lebanese Christians in their new religious community. This demonstrates that in many cases the short-term material benefits linked to conversion are soon outweighed by the social disadvantages. In particular, this example shows the important need to recognise the intersections of ‘minority’ and ‘majority’, and how this is ‘read’ and ‘ascribed’ by observers on the basis of ethnicity and other identity markers.

Second, local religious leaders are not necessarily playing a short-term numbers game to gain converts, but aiming to build prolonged relationships within their broader community. In comparison to short term missionary trips from various external countries, local religious leaders embedded in communities do not want to pressure people to convert through their assistance, as noted by research from Kraft, also in Lebanon.

Finally, as Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh has pointed out in much of her research, the agency of beneficiaries has been overlooked. In the Sahrawi refugee camps (in Southwest Algeria), she found that refugees’  political representatives, “mobilized religiously-related claims to maximize diverse short- and long-term benefits both inside and outside the camps,” accessing both material resources and the political support provided by Evangelical American actors in the camps and in the USA.

While this demonstrates a need to recognise the complexity of proselytisation and the nuances of the contexts in which it takes place, it does not do away with the fundamental concern of faith actors tying their assistance to conversion. Most of our interviewees reported having seen or heard about such practices. However, interviewees also explained the ways in which they had still managed to successfully partner with LFAs who had initially included types of proselytisation in their assistance. One interviewee described a negotiation with a local faith actor in which they held a meeting with refugees about their religion, but only after all distributions had been made so that attendance was a choice and not tied to assistance. In their opinion, the method maintained dignity on both sides, recognising that the refugees and local faith community involved in distribution were able to uphold their identities without compromising the distribution. This was a one-off solution, but in another example from the Lebanese Society for Education and Social Development (LSESD), they conducted training on humanitarian principles for LFAs. They reported some initial missteps in explaining the concepts behind the humanitarian principles to LFAs and described how they had learned that specific examples were more effective than providing an abstract description of concepts such as impartiality and neutrality.

On one hand, there is the fear that LFAs will be “NGO-ised” through the localization agenda, to the point that they lose any identity as faith actors, becoming instrumentalised sub-contractors for international humanitarian organisations instead.

On the other hand, there are sensitive ways to conduct trainings that allow organisations to remain faith actors, while also aligning them with international humanitarian principles. This element of complexity in engagement with LFAs shows that international humanitarian organisations must be committed to capacity building in humanitarian principles, standards, and compliance with LFAs, while recognising the agency of refugees and LFAs to interact around and about their faiths, without assuming it is proselytization.

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Featured Image: Baddawi refugee camp in North Lebanon has been hosting refugees from Syria since the outbreak of the conflict. The Masjid al-Quds mosque – in the background – is at the geographical and metaphorical core of the camp. Masjid al-Quds overlooks the cemetery, the camp’s ultimate shared space in life and death for new and established refugees alike. (c) E. Fiddian-Qasmiyeh 

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For more readings on the themes explored in this piece

click here for the Refugee Hosts Faith and Displacement series, here for other contributions to our Refugee Hosts ‘Contextualising the Localisation of Aid‘ blog series

Recommended readings:

 

 

JLI’s Partner the GHR Foundation is seeking a Senior Program Officer- Initiative Faith and Development.

The senior program officer is part of GHR’s Program Leadership Team whose primary responsibility is to lead GHR’s Initiative on faith and development. This person will be responsible for designing and implementing a strategic portfolio of grants and non-grant activities to both inform and advance the catalytic effect that faith can have on positive change in the world.

As lead for GHR’s Initiative on Faith and Development, specific qualifications sought include:

  1. General Subject Matter Knowledge
  2. Strategy and Learning
  3. Relationship Builder
  4. Links with Private Development Funders and Organizations

To Apply
Send cover letter and CV to [email protected]. Position will remain open until filled.

More information at the GHR Foundation website

Congratulations to JLI Partner, the International Dialogue Centre (KAICIID) for receiveding the prestigious Africa Peace Award 2018. The Peace Award was for its work promoting interreligious and intercultural dialogue in Africa and the world, and in particular for its contribution to reviving the African Union Interfaith Dialogue Forum in partnership with the African Union. The prize is given by United Religions Initiative (URI), the renowned global NGO representing 204 member organizations in 31 African countries.

See KAICIID website for more details