Religion, Women, and Development

Jean Duff, Katherine Marshall, and Marjorie Mandelstam Balzer

April 10, 2008

Research findings, human rights principles, practical experience, and common sense all underscore the pivotal role that women play in social change, and that includes fighting poverty and working for social justice. Religion has central importance for women in far corners of the earth, across virtually all faith traditions. But the nexus of religion, women and development has been little explored. This discussion took place on the eve of the Washington National Cathedral's Breakthrough Summit, a joint undertaking of the Washington National Cathedral, InterAction, Religions for Peace, and Women Thrive Worldwide, at which the Women, Faith and Development Alliance was launched to advance this very nexus. Both events were premised on the idea that women play critically important roles in development, that religion is vital for women and women for religion, that religion plays central roles in development processes, and that a thoughtful and purposeful exploration about the issues involved is long overdue.

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Challenges of Change: Faith, Gender, and Development

This report addresses the relationship between faith, gender, and development in the world's poorer societies. It examines examples where religion appears to be a positive force advancing women's rights and welfare. It also explores tensions, difficulties, and gaps in knowledge and understanding.