Women, Religion and Peace

From our Executive Vice President and CEO, Joyce Dubensky…

Through Tanenbaum, I get to participate in some of the most interesting convenings and conferences, but the Women, Religion and Peace meeting last week in DC was different from other sessions.  Aptly called an “exploration,” it brought together mostly women from a range of countries, conflicts, settings (i.e., nonprofit and government) – all of whom have been active (or at least deeply engaged) with these issues in one way or another.  From a Tanenbaum perspective, it was very valuable because of our Women’s Peace Initiative in the Middle East/North Africa, where we seek to identify religious women who are risking their lives to build peace and overcome conflict.  But it was also personally powerful.

It’s been a long time since I have been in space dominated by powerful, brilliant women.  We were all so different and yet, we resonated with some similar issues – especially what it means to be invisible as a woman.  What was interesting was that we were able to identify pros and cons.  There can be power when working behind the scenes.  Like the way some women are influencing (and even writing) the sermons being given in houses of worship – across different traditions!  The male religious leaders are the spokespersons but the issues of concern to the women are being voiced.  It can also be challenging, of course – for example when the men, and even male peace activists, fail to include the women in setting agendas or identifying pathways to peace. 
 
I came away with some new friendships, and even some partnerships in my work.  Women who will nominate women Peacemakers in Action from across traditions and countries.  Colleagues who also work to do case studies of women.  And some who work with Tanenbaum Peacemakers, so that we share a commitment to further their work and impact.
 
I am looking forward to the policy recommendations from the convening and to seeing this new network – if you will – further a shared vision of peace as something far more than the cessation of armed conflict.