Young Women of Faith and Transformative Leadership in COVID-19 Response

An Intergenerational Conversation

June 30, 2020
9:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. EDT
Location: Online Zoom Webinar

Faith organizations and communities are playing critical roles in the humanitarian response to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Young feminist women of faith constitute an important part of this response, and yet they remain a largely unnoticed and untapped constituency in this pandemic. Even though they are at the forefront of the crisis as health workers and primary caregivers delivering care and services following faith-inspired principles of solidarity and compassion, their leadership is frequently overlooked. They are setting examples of transformative leadership within their faith communities, challenging the limited role attributed to women from centuries of strict interpretation of sacred texts. This type of leadership pushes for new frontiers of advocacy to bring lasting and transformative change that will help safeguard future generations of young women. Young women of faith have important roles to play in the COVID-19 crisis, especially in reimagining a better future. It is crucial to understand the importance of engaging with this key constituency and to amplify their leadership as gender equality advocates in their communities and organizations. One path is to ensure that they tell their stories and that they are heard.

This event began with a musical interpretation of the COVID-19 crisis by Jamie Medicine Crane, a Blackfoot woman from the Kainai and Piikani Nations in Alberta. Lopa Banerjee, director of the Civil Society Division at UN Women, framed the discussion, which was then moderated by Berkley Center Senior Fellow Katherine Marshall and staff member Ruth Gopin. Dr. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, executive director of UN Women, and three young female leaders of their respective faith communities considered the strength and resilience that young women of faith exhibit in times of crisis and how to sustain this leadership beyond the pandemic. 

This event was co-sponsored by Georgetown University's Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs; UN Women; Baha'i International Community; Milstein Center for Interreligious Dialogue; World Young Women's Christian Association; Anglican Communion; and the Joint Learning Initiative.

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