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Women, Religion, and Peace: Experience, Perspectives, and Policy Implications

Scholars and practitioners have devoted increasing attention to the roles played by faith communities in negotiating and building peace in the world's conflict zones. Because formal religious leadership tends to be dominated by men, women's engagement in religious peacemaking has received far less attention. To address this knowledge gap, the U.S. Institute of Peace, the Berkley Center, and the World Faiths Development Dialogue conducted a multi-year exploration of the activities and perspectives of women in peacebuilding and their policy implications, issues that continue to feature in ongoing Berkley Center work.

At an initial symposium in Washington, DC in July 2010 a group of practitioners, academics, and policy analysts explored conflict situations where women, with ties to religious traditions and institutions, play active parts. The group sought to draw conclusions from this experience in terms of distinctive women's contributions both to process and to agendas, and to consider implications for the theory and practice of religious peacemaking when gender is taken more explicitly into account. Participants formulated recommendations for how outsiders can best strengthen and support women's religious peacemaking. The symposium drew on in-depth interviews with participants and others with pertinent experience. A report followed the symposium and pointed to more in-depth exploration of specific cases. A second symposium in 2012 sought to address pertinent themes and possible recommendations to policymakers and peacemakers on issues of local peacebuilding, drawing from the first phase of the project and new inputs contained in the papers. These culminated in the publication of Women, Religion, and Peacebuilding: Illuminating the Unseen, an edited volume which examines the obstacles and opportunities that women religious peacebuilders face as they navigate both the complex conflicts they are seeking to resolve and the power dynamics in the institutions they must deal with in order to accomplish their goals.

Women, Religion, and Peace: Experience, Perspectives, and Policy Implications

Project Leader

Katherine Marshall headshot

Katherine Marshall

Senior Fellow/School of Foreign Service
Executive Director of the World Faiths Development Dialogue

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