Amplifying underrepresented women’s voices on the world stage


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Voices of Faith believes that the world would be a better place if voices of women of faith were more clearly heard – not just on “women’s issues” but on all the important questions shaping our world today! We need the diverse experiences and ideas that women bring – not because they are better then men but because God created us with unique perspectives and only together are we have the complete picture of our world. In September, Voices of Faith tweeted live from the historic UN Summit on Large Movements of Migrants and Refugees to amplify the still severely underrepresented voices of women on this crucial issue in today’s world.

The world is experiencing an unprecedented movement of people with 65 million of people forcibly displaced and estimated 244 million migrants in search of new life abroad.

On September 19th, a historic Global Summit on Large Movements of Migrants and Refugees took place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York and the so-called New York Declaration was passed by the UN member states to reaffirm the commitment to uphold rights of refugees and migrants and to commit to developing new comprehensive plans of addressing the phenomenon of migration in our world.

Voices of Faith sees migration as one of the strategic areas in which the voices of women of faith need to be amplified. That such efforts are much needed was apparent already in the opening session of the Summit. Of the 14 speakers in the opening session, only 3 were women – Phumzile Mlambo represented UN Women, the UN flagship agency dedicated to women around the world, and two powerful and challenging personal testimonies – of Nadia Murad Basee, a Yazidi survivor of ISIS terror and Eni Lestari Andayini as a voice for migrant workers.

Nothing could speak more clearly: women form more then half of those who are affected by migration and displacement and due to a variety of social and cultural influences they are often more vulnerable to violence, poverty and exploitation. Yet, their voices continue to be underrepresented in key decision-making processes.

You can find the Voices of Faith twitter stream from the event here and follow us for future events and powerful, inspiring stories of the Voices of Faith women around the world.

The Role of Religious Organizations

Voices of Faith took a particular interest in a side-event of the Summit on the Role of Religious Organizations Responding to Large Migrant and Refugees Movements, organized by the Holy See Mission to the UN, the Caritas Confederation and the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC). We were happy to amplify the voices of the speakers and delighted by the strong presence of women – the Catholic Charities USA CEO and President Sr. Donna Markman representing the Caritas Confederation and Petra Hueck, the Director of ICMC Europe speaking for that organization. It was great to see these two eloquent women featuring the inspiring work of Catholic entities around the world.

President Sr. Donna Markman representing the Caritas Confederation

In his remarks at the event, The Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin suggested that Catholic organizations are not always the first to arrive at a scene of an unfolding emergency but are regularly the last ones to leave, accompanying vulnerable people long after the media and the humanitarian aid industry moved on somewhere else. Similarly, Karen AbuZayd, speaking on behalf of the UN system, pointed out that religious organizations often offer a unique perspective of speaking about refugees, highlighting hospitality, respect and dignity.

At the same time, some speakers in the panel pointed out that it sometimes appears that although faith-based organizations are crucial in delivering relief and often have outstanding relationships with communities at the grassroots level, their voices are not so well heard in international fora. Petra Hueck, reflecting on the toxic polarized debate seen in Europe in the last months, lamented that although local voices often express common human values and solidarity with those in need, they are not heard enough.

This is a problem that is also on our minds and hearts here at Voices of Faith. That is why we believe that it is essential to give voice to women (and men) of faith, to create opportunities for women to talk about their passion and their service right from the heart of the Vatican during our March 8th event and why we believe in building a strong network of women’s voices speaking with depth and professional expertise on the burning topics of our world.

Do you want to join us? Follow us on twitter or facebook, sign up for our newsletter, get in touch with us and tell us about stories of women that we should highlight! Together, we can amplify the Voices of Faith in our world!

Interested in learning more about the UN Summit?

You can watch the The Role of Religious Organizations Responding to Large Movements of Migrants and Refugee here.

Read our in-depth interview with Martina Liebsch, the Caritas International Director of Policy and Advocacy here.