Glasgow 2008


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A REPORT ON A PREPARATORY MEETING HELD IN GLASGOW, SCOTLAND
23-25 FEBRUARY 2008

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Women of Faith from Belgium, France, Scotland, Spain and Sweden convened in Glasgow, Scotland from the 23-25 of February 2008 to prepare for the launch of the European Women of Faith Network. This was a follow-up meeting of another meeting that was held in Italy in May 2007 with representatives from Hungary, Belgium, France, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, Bosnia Herzegovina and Italy in which the Religions for Peace European Women’s Coordinating Committee was formed. The meeting was co-hosted by the Interfaith Council of Scotland and the University of Glasgow Chaplaincy Center , and moderated by the Coordinators of Religions for Peace European Women’s Coordinating Committee, Mrs. Ravinder Kaur Nijjar and Mrs. Yolande Iliano. The Director of the Women’s Program of Religions for Peace International, Ms Jacqueline Ogega based in New York, was also present in the meeting to share experiences, strategies and lessons in building the Religions for Peace Global Women of Faith Network that could be replicated in Europe. Mrs. Carin Gardbring and Mrs. Cristina Monteys were the rappourtours of the sessions.

Objectives of Religions for Peace European Women of Faith Network

  • Enhance inter-faith networking among women of faith in Europe
  • Strengthen the capacities of women of faith to build peace,, promote just and harmonious societies and transform conflict through congregations and religious women’s organizations in Europe.
  • Promote gender equality and women’s empowerment in multi-religious collaboration for peace.
  • Develop strategic relevant multi-stakeholder partnerships and alliances.
  • Promote the establishment and development of faith-based and inter-faith based women’s networks in Europe.

Standing Rules for the Religions for Peace European Women of Faith Network
The women of faith agreed on the Standing Rules for the European Women of Faith Network, and affirmed the need to create linkages with the Religions for Peace Women of Faith Networks in other continents. Please refer to the appended document on the Standing Rules for the European Women of Faith Network.

In addition to the functions outlined in the standing rules, the women of faith agreed that Religions for Peace European Women’s Coordinating Committee would:
  • Provide leadership in the preparation of annual implementation plans based on priorities adopted from Religions for Peace Global Plan of Action – 2007-2011, in consultation with the local and national networks.
  • Support the mainstreaming of women of faith not only in the programs but also in the structures of Religions for Peace-Europe and the European Council of Religious Leaders. Without imposing any quota, the women of faith stressed that it was important to guarantee a minimum of women’s presence in all Religions for Peace structures (no less than 35%). There was an emphasis on ensuring inclusiveness of women of faith in the composition of the Governing Board.
  • Ensure that national women of faith networks were represented at the RfP-European Women’s Coordinating Committee, even if the networks existed prior to the creation of the Religions for Peace European Women of Faith Network.
  • Identify the existing women of faith initiatives (both local and national) and create linkages and cooperation.
  • Promote the creation of new interfaith initiatives of women where they don’t exist and yet there is a need.
  • Explore ways to create partnerships with non religious organizations and institutions (such as the Council of Europe).
  • Explore the possibility of having patrons that will promote the network and provide fund raising opportunities.

Operating the Religions for Peace European Women of Faith Network
The Women of Faith agreed on three organs that would support the coordination and operation of Religions for Peace European Women of Faith Network: The European Women’s Coordinating Committee, Advisory Group, and the Consultants. The corresponding functions are outlined in the Standing Rules that is appended.

An important question arose in regard to fundraising. It was a requirement that for any organization to receive funding, it had to be formally registered. A question arose as to whether Religions for Peace European Women of Faith Network needed to be registered formally. It was shared that other regional networks operate within existing regional or national inter-religious councils, and that would be a good way to leverage resources and encourage cooperation The women of faith networks keep separate financial accounts from inter-religious councils that they affiliate with, to ease management and reporting.

The women of faith continued the process of co-opting members to serve in these capacities and co-opted more members.

Please see appended list on the representatives co-opted to serve in different capacities.


The Rovereto Inter-Religious Encounter May 22-25 May 2008
The Coordinator of Religions for Peace European Women’s Coordinating Committee reported that the Rovereto Inter-Religious Encounter was scheduled to begin in the evening at 18.00 Thursday 22 May. On Friday 23 May at 15.00 the first workshop session would take place, six projects/workshops are to be prepared and Religions for Peace European Women of Faith Network was responsible for the project 4 titled “The dignity of Difference in our cities… European identity”. The concept note and agenda for the Rovereto encounter was reviewed and accepted by the women of faith as appropriate.

The other objective of the Revoreto Inter-Religious Encounter would be to launch the Religions for Peace European Women of Faith Network. There was need to share responsibilities among the European Women of Faith in order to make the Encounter a success. The women of faith reviewed the agenda and recommended persons to participate in various sessions.

A decision was reached to convene a one-day pre-Encounter meeting for women of faith to launch the Religions for Peace European Women of Faith Network. It was recommended that all women of faith arrive on the evening on Wednesday 21 May to have a gathering in the morning/early afternoon on Thursday 22 May. Invitations would be sent out to a minimum of 30 women of faith, including all the advisors and newly co-opted members of the European Women’s Coordinating Committee, as well as consultants.

 

Specific Responsibilities:

  • The Coordinators of Religions for Peace European Women’s Coordinating Committee, Yolande and Ravinder, would prepare the agenda for the one-day pre-Encounter meeting for women of faith.
  • RfP- EWFN is responsible together with the youth lead the opening meditation. This has to be short. Ravinder had prepared a proposal with Lightening of the Candles and short readings from each faith. Brigitte and Cristina would coordinate with the youth and present a proposal on how to carry that forward by the end of March.
  • Introduction and greetings from Religions for peace EWFN would be done both by Ravinder in English and Yolande in French.

More details were available on the program.


Field Experience and learning :

St. Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art:
The women of faith visited the St. Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art in Glasgow, Scotland. This unique museum explores the importance of religion in people's lives across the world and across time. It is aimed at promoting understanding and respect between people of different faiths. The Museum explores the world's six main religions: Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism. The Women of Faith listened to people speak about their faith and viewed different religious symbols, artifacts and art.

University of Glasgow Interfaith Centre for University Students:
At the University of Glasgow in the Chaplaincy Centre, the women of faith visited and learned about University’s Inter-Faith centre for youth. The meeting was hosted by Rev Stuart Mc Quarrie, the University Chaplain. The interfaith centre is the very first in Scotland and it is developed in cooperation with the students. The activities are value based and contributing to the leadership training of the students into their different careers. Among other things they are working with new techniques to respond to the different traditions in practicing each faith. The centre is as a model for promoting inter-religious cooperation among young people.

Scottish Inter-Faith Council and Glasgow City Council:
Chief Executive Officer, Ms Pramila Kaur, introduced the women of faith to the work of the Scottish Inter-Faith Council (SIFC) which was established in 1999. Today they have 36 member organizations and some observers. The council works closely with the city council of Glasgow and with the Scottish government and parliament. The council works in the areas among others, of Inter-faith, religion, belief and spirituality, multiculturalism, good relations, integration and community cohesion, national research, national strategy, intellectual capital, media and conflict resolution. Ms. Carrie Varjavandi, Education and Development officer introduced the women of faith to the SIFC work with women, young people and religious leaders and work with local inter-faith groups. In support to the development of inter-faith work, the government of Scotland has developed inter-faith week every year for dialogue and mutual understanding among different faiths.

The Women of faith also shared a meal and held discussions with Cllr. Irfan Rabbani and Mr. Tom Harrigam of Glasgow City council, and Sister Isabel Smyth, who was a key person in setting up the Scottish Interfaith Council

Follow-up tasks
• Preparation of the draft agenda for the pre-Encounter meeting to launch the network
• Planning process for Rovereto Encounter, including finalization of invitations, responsibilities for sessions and sharing of final ..documents.
• Continuation with the mapping of religious women’s organizations towards the building of the Religions for Peace European Women ..of faith Network
• A fundraising strategy be developed to support concrete projects for Religions for Peace European Women of Faith Network.
• RfP- EWCC coordinators highlighted the need for an administrative person to help them with the managing of the committee and the ..network.
• Collaboration with Religions for Peace Europe Governing Board and the European Council of Religious Leaders