On 16 October 2019, ED Fore met with leaders of faith-based organizations in Washington, D.C., to launch Faith and Positive Change for Children – a Global initiative on Social and Behaviour Change (FPCC), a partnership between UNICEF, Religions for Peace and the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities.

ED Fore launches the Faith and Positive Change for Children Global Initiative in Washington, D.C.

ED Fore launches the Faith and Positive Change for Children Global Initiative in Washington, D.C.

The purpose of the initiative is to put into motion a new way of engaging with Faith leaders and local faith communities.

In his statement for the launch, Imam Mohamed Magid, Co-President, Religions for Peace expressed the privilege he felt working alongside UNICEF as a convening partner for the initiative. “Religions for Peace is the largest inter-faith network in the world and with its country presence and inter-religious councils in numerous countries we take this opportunity to publicly re-commit the support of RfP worldwide to the roll-out of the initiative,” he said.

The FPCC has spent two years generating rigorous evidence, including literature review, mapping of country level work, analysis of resource materials, case study documentation, and consultations with a global advisory group of over 15 global partner faith-based organizations. It is now positioned to further refine and validate its preliminary Theory of Change and comprehensive Principles Paper, both developed to guide more meaningful, equitable and sustainable ways of working with Faith actors towards positive change for children.

Last week, the first of a series of consultations, “Work Rocks” was convened in South Sudan, opened by the country’s Vice President and three Ministers. The series of four-day inter-faith gatherings are being organized in six focal countries in Africa by UNICEF’s Communication for Development Section in collaboration with Civil Society Partnerships (CSP) Unit, Division of Communication and global faith

“We are calling these kick-off gatherings ‘Work Rocks’ to purposefully seed the idea that this effort is about laying deeper and stronger foundations to ensure sustained partnerships for social and behaviour change from within faith communities,” explained Kerida McDonald, acting Chief of Communication for Development for UNICEF.

“Work Rock” foundational change meeting in
South Sudan with children from JCC Primary School

“The aim is to move away from top-down, message-focused, short-term, project mode, sector-siloed and instrumentalist-type engagement with religious leaders which has been characteristic of much of the well-intentioned efforts of country offices to leverage the power of religious leaders in addressing attitudinal and behavioural barriers to achieve programmatic goals.”

At the Global launch of the initiative, hosted by ED Fore, a core representative from the Advisory Group, Sunita Groth, Senior Program Manager of World Vision, lauded the initiative as a unique effort within UN and Development programming to build on lessons learned. “We acknowledge the powerful role that religion can play, for good or for ill,” she said. “We also have learned that we should not impose our own values and ‘development-speak’ on faith leaders and their faith communities.” Ms. Groth went on to stress the value of partnering faith and science to address the issues facing communities.

“We need to come together in true partnership and allow faith leaders to discover the barriers to the change they want to see for families and communities and how to influence these through their own religious texts, grounded in science, and facing the real-life reality of people in their communities,” she said.
Adding, “We have evidence that this type of approach works in influencing concrete change.”
A longitudinal study in Senegal showed 72 per cent of faith leaders and spouses were reported to have stopped hitting or insulting their children, while those believing that faith leaders who abuse children should not be punished dropped from 66 per cent to 15 per cent.

“This is the most important thing I’ve worked on in all my years of faith and development,” said Jean Duff, Executive Director of the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities and UNICEF’s Knowledge partner for the initiative. “The initiative has unprecedented potential for providing a bridge of collaboration across multi-laterals, government and faith organizations; in breaking dependency mindsets through mind and heart dialogue grounded in assets of the community; by re-framing from training to learning, testing and doing; and for creating a strong mechanism for scaling up by joining action across three tiers – global, regional and country level.”

In her closing remarks, ED Fore encouraged partners to continue guiding UNICEF on how the organization needs to remodel its relationships with faith communities for benefit of children. “We count on you all to help us cement the true partnerships we are seeking in order to more effectively address the deep-rooted cultural, social and behavioural issues that undermine even the best efforts of our programmatic work,” she said. “It is fitting that we are staging this global launch of the FPCC initiative during the momentous year of the 30th anniversary of CRC…we take this opportunity to join hands with you today in recommitting our focus and energies to work together more closely and more effectively to ensure the rights and well-being of the world’s most vulnerable children.”

by Kerida McDonald, Senior Adviser Communication for Development

Repost from UNICEF Icon

View more about the FPCC

October 7-11 – Juba, South Sudan

Local faith actors and religious leaders with UNICEF South Sudan, Religions for Peace and the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities launched the first country WorkRock of the Faith and Positive Change for Children Global Initiative on Social Behavior Change (FPCC). The partners gathered for five days to discuss and work for change for children. The opening ceremony on Monday included a welcome from Archbishop Arkangelo Wani Lemi, Chairperson of South Sudan Council of Churches and remarks from Sheikh Juma Saeed, Vice President James Wani Igga and Kerida McDonald, UNICEF Senior Advisor of Communication for Development.

Opening ceremony participants

Students from JCC Primary School with Religions Leaders, UNICEF and partners to launch the first Faith and Positive Change for Children WorkRock ©UNICEF South Sudan/2019/Bullen Chol

“Despite improvements in girls’ education, too many girls are still denied the opportunity to attend school. Lack of education is both a risk factor and a negative result of child marriage. Faith leaders and faith-based organizations are most centrally positioned to influence the ending of child marriage and therefore increasing girls’ education and their chances to fulfill their potential,”
Kerida McDonald, UNICEF’s Senior Advisor for Communication for Development

Children from JCC primary school in Juba performed a skit urging leaders to protect children in South Sudan.

“…I have a bright future inside me

only if you can listen to my cry

I am an African Child

I am a true South Sudanese Child

I am like a lost sheep in the bush without any shepherd to look after

Protect me from hunger

Protect me from sickness

Protect me from child labour…

I need your collective responsibilities all stakeholders

to protect and empower me to realise my dreams and aspirations

as an African South Sudanese child…”


Large group discussions during the WorkRock

Large group discussions during the WorkRock
photo credit: UNICEF/2019/ Sadik Raza

The remaining four days focused on a new way of working with UNICEF and local faith actors and religious leaders. Among attendance included religious leaders, faith actors, government UNICEF C4D officers from the three regions. The final day ended with the partners co-creating an action plan to work together within the regions.

The final day also marked the International Day of the Girl. The partners took a stand with girls in solidarity writing how they would support girls. ©UNICEF South Sudan/2019/Bullen Chol

The final day also marked the International Day of the Girl. The partners took a stand with girls in solidarity writing how they would support girls. ©UNICEF South Sudan/2019/Bullen Chol

The next steps will aim to have a core commitment from the government and to facilitate similar workrocks on regional and state levels. These commitments build on UNICEF and the World Food Programme’s recently signed joint memorandum of understanding with the South Sudan Council of Churches to collaborate for peace and child rights.

The FPCC will be further tested and adapted in consultations with UNICEF and local faith actors in Malawi, Liberia Niger, and Cameroon before the end of the year.


Video recap of the South Sudan FPCC WorkRock


View the UNICEF South Sudan report on the WorkRock



CWFL Online Fellowship Call for Applications

The new CWFL Online Fellowship will extend the reach of its flagship fellowship program to women of faith who are unable to participate in person. The CWFL Online Fellowship is open to all women of faith seeking to strengthen sustainable leadership as they work on behalf of vulnerable and marginalized communities.

The fellowship will consist of ten modules with topics such as planning for leadership; overcoming challenges to leadership; ensuring sustainable leadership through holistic self-care; negotiating conflicts; building effective mentorships and networks; setting yourself up for success through prayerful strategic planning; and building philanthropic partnerships to support your work.

Email [email protected] for more information or questions


Apply at the CWFL Fellowship Website

The Religions for Peace World Assembly 2019 met in Lindau Germany August 19th to 23rd to agree common action towards Caring for our Common Future: Advancing Shared wellbeing.

900 religious leaders, representing diverse faith communities from 120 countries, gathered to discuss key themes including: preventing and transforming violent conflicts, promoting just and harmonious societies, advancing sustainable and integral human development and protecting the earth.

The World Assembly Declaration codifies delegate’s commitments to common action including support for the Interfaith Rainforest Initiative, the International Campaign to abolish Nuclear Weapons and the Peace Charter for Reconciliation and Forgiveness.

RFP Trustees, in an inspired move, elected Azza Karam of UNFPA and the UN Interagency Task Force on Faith and Development to replace Bill Vendley, longtime Secretary General and servant of peace.

The German government provided extraordinary support to the World Assembly, making it possible for faith leaders to attend from around the world. The Assembly was honored to hear a major address by German President Steinmeier affirming the important role of religions in making and keeping peace. The Assembly was called to action by other global leaders including Sheikh Bin Bayah, Patriarch Bartholemew, Rabbi David Rosen, Sheikh Mubaje, Hon. Mehrezia Labidi-Maiza, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, Ela Ghandi, Dr Vinu Aram and Dr. Jeff Sachs.

Local people and churches in Lindau hosted what must have been the worlds largest pot luck supper with home cooked food for all the delegates – a great experience of warm hospitality! A great example of mobilization of faith communities!

JLI was privileged to attend a day long caucus of the RFP Women of Faith Network , with 250 women of all faith from diverse contexts with common concerns, joining forces for common action.

Together with Kerida McDonald from UNICEF, JLI led a workshop consultation with faith actors from around the world on the new Faith for Positive Change for Children global initiative for social and behavior change – see information brochure here.

JLI also partnered with Religions for Peace and others to provide a pivotal report on Guide to Action on Mobilizing Faith Communities to Welcome Migrants and Refugees.

Guide to Action on Mobilizing Faith Communities to Welcome Migrants and Refugees

Video coverage of the plenaries on RfP’s youtube page

Related news coverage:

Interfaith group pledges to use religion’s influence to address climate change, poverty


The Sixth annual G20 Interfaith Forum took place in Tokyo Japan with about 300 religious leaders, FBOs, academics and others gathered from around the world.

Katherine Marshall, World Faiths Development Dialogue and Cole Durhan, Brigham Young University under the patronage of Dr Haruhisa Handa organized the conference.

The goal of the Forum was to discuss global issues through the lens of faith. Attendees also aimed to develop recommendations from the faith community to the G20 meeting in Osaka.

This year’s themes were People, Planet Peace: Pathways Forward

Jean Duff represented JLI and made contributions to two working sessions and to the closing Plenary “Towards 2020”. At the People session on Every Child has a Right to a Childhood, JLI announced the launch of the EVAC Hub’s new three-part Scoping Report and presented recommendations for the G20 Summit. At the Peace session on “New Ways to Serve and Integrate Refugees and Forcibly Displaced Communities,” JLI presented recommendations for the G20 Summit relating to the importance of the Global Compact on Refugees and the role of local faith actors in implementing it. Also, JLI contributed to the policy briefs from the two sessions.


JLI Session Presentations

View the Presentation on Protecting and Nurturing Children in Todays Challenging World

View the Presentation on New Ways to Serve and Integrate Refugees and Forcibly Displaced Communities

Link to G20 Website

Related new articles:

Op-ed on Reuters from by Graça Machel: A G20 Imperative: Focus on our children

Op-ed on Daily Caller from Kevin Hyland: It’s critical that the G20 addresses human trafficking

The diversity of origins and traditions which make humanity unique are being targeted by intolerance, sometimes by brutal violence, and refugees are often on the front line of this assault. Reinforcing the traditional role of faith communities in offering sanctuary to refugees, more than 25 faith-based actors express their further commitment to upholding the dignity of refugees through offering effective protection, access to social services and fulfilment of human rights and enhancing peacebuilding efforts. Based on their religious teachings, as well as on the experience that some of their communities have of being targeted themselves, faith-based actors seek to address xenophobia as one of their special responsibilities.


The Global Compact on Refugees specifically recognizes the contribution and long-standing experience of faith-based actors in supporting refugees and will highlight these contributions at the Global Refugee Forum. Whether supporting refugees, including children, on their journey to safety including in reception and admission, meeting protection or service delivery needs and supporting communities to find solutions such as private sponsorship programmes, faith-based actors are committed to working alongside states and the rest of the global humanitarian community to deliver the promise of the Global Compact on Refugees.


This statement is supported by:

  1. ACT Alliance
  2. Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA)
  3. American Jewish World Service
  4. Anglican Alliance
  5. Anglican Communion
  6. Caritas Internationalis
  7. Christian Aid
  8. Church World Service
  9. EU-CORD
  10. Food for the Hungry
  11. Global One
  12. HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society)
  13. International Catholic Migration Commission
  14. Islamic Relief Worldwide
  15. Jesuit Refugee Service
  16. Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities
  17. The Lutheran World Federation (LWF)
  18. Network for Dialogue
  19. Religions for Peace
  20. Soka Gakkai International
  21. Tearfund
  22. World Council of Churches
  23. World Evangelical Alliance
  24. World Relief
  25. World Vision International

Copenhagen May 2019

JLI, in its role as a PaRD Knowledge Partner, attended the PaRD General Assembly of Members in Copenhagen to report to the PaRD workstreams on study progress as well as share JLI Hub and Project work.

JLI is currently supporting evidence building for the workstreams on  Health – SDG 3Gender Equality and Empowerment – SDG 5and Sustaining Peace – SDG 16. JLI Research Advisor, Susanna Trotta, President, Jean Duff and Senior Programs and Knowledge Manager, Stacy Nam attended and reported to the workstreams in parallel sessions. Members agreed to start new working groups in capacity building and Environment, Water and Climate Action. JLI looks forward to aligning the JLI climate webinars and evidence building with the working group.

Jean Duff, JLI President, reporting on JLI-PaRD Workstream Studies in plenary on May 2


JLI presented in the open sessions on both days on three themes:

  1. UNICEF Faith for Social Behavior Change Initiative
  2. Refugees and Forced Migration Hub and accompanying policy work on related to the Global Compact on Refugees and Local Humanitarian Leadership-see the upcoming Beirut Event
  3. Ending Violence Against Children Study. to be launched soon. stay tuned for launch webinar details

Read more about the sessions on the PaRD website here

Editors: Emma Tomalin and Caroline Starkey

The University of Leeds is looking for contributors to a new and exciting handbook on the topic of Religion, Gender and Society. Underpinning the volume, is an awareness that it is impossible for scholars, activists and policy makers to understand and explain contemporary societies and to contribute towards positive social change unless attention is paid to the role that religion plays in shaping gender identities. This handbook will provide a survey of the current state of research on religions, gender and society. Its aim will be to make a major contribution to the research agenda for the next 5-7 years, to redefine existing areas within the context of international research, and to highlight emerging and cutting edge areas.

If you are interesting in being considered, please send a short abstract/chapter outline to Dr Caroline Starkey ([email protected]) by Monday 1st April 2019. Final chapters will be due in autumn/winter 2019, with publication planned for mid-2020.

See more information and topics here

March 11, 2019

By Olivia Wilkinson and Susanna Trotta on the Georgetown University Berkley Center blog

This blog post highlights Education and Refugee Response from the JLIFLC policy brief on the implementation of the Global Compact on Refugees with faith actors.

“In the Global Compact on Refugees’ program of action, education falls within a section on meeting needs and supporting communities. The main provision within the compact is for the support of national education systems, which in many cases will include schools that are run by faith-based institutions and operating within national laws and policies. However, refugee children can struggle to gain places (especially in over-burdened systems) and integrate into new education systems. Issues related to which curricula to follow and to accreditation between home, host, and destination curricula have caused problems. Instead, children on the move may seek non-formal education opportunities, which can also be run by faith actors, such as sessions in religious buildings with provisions funded by the faith community.”

See full Georgetown Berkley Center Post Here

New Knowledge Partnership between Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities (JLI) and the International Partnership on Religion and Sustainable Development (PaRD)


On October 27, 2018, JLI and PaRD signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) at JLI’s Annual Board Meeting. Jonathan Duffy, JLI Board Chair and Jean Duff, JLI President and Thomas Lawo, PaRD Secretariat Coordinator signed for their respective organizations. The PaRD Steering Group ratified the MOU at its meeting in Toronto in November 2018.


The JLI and PaRD seek full and appropriate engagement of the capacities of faith-based and religious groups in the achievement of the SDGs through effective partnerships with public sector and secular entities, as well as among religious groups themselves. JLI brings knowledge partner capacities, a proven track record in preparing evidence reports, briefs, calls to action, conference programs, peer-reviewed article, and journals. PaRD focuses on joint activities in its three areas of engagement knowledge exchange, capacity building, and joint advocacy.


JLI provides evidence support to PaRD’s three work-streams:

  • SDG 3 Health with a focus on faith and adolescent sexual and reproductive health,
  • SDG 5 Gender Equality and Empowerment with a focus on the role of faith-based partnerships in preventing and addressing gender-based violence and
  • SDG 16 Sustaining Peace with a focus on effective peacebuilding focus on South Asia and the Lake Chad Basin


The studies and evidence briefs will be co-designed and will draw upon PaRD and JLI members’ information and experiences, which will, in turn, inform joint research and advocacy agendas. Each of the three workstreams will present preliminary reports for discussion during the PaRD annual meeting on May 2 and 3 in Copenhagen.


Please visit www.pard.international and read more on PaRD and its members’ activities! Read about the JLI’s work through learning hubs and partnerships at jliflc.com.