Religious and Faith-based Contributions to the Well-being of Children

The Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities (JLI) is pleased to announce the initiation of a partnership with UNICEF over the next three years. Faith for Social and Behaviour Change Initiative is a collaboration with the UNICEF Communication for Development in Programme Division and the Civil Society Partnerships Unit in the Division of Communication. The project will look across sectors including health, development, protection and empowerment of children, especially focusing on the most marginalized, across the life-cycle.

Research Question:

What are the specific roles, caveats, most effective strategies and demonstrated impact of faith actors in social and behavior change related to the health, development, protection, and empowerment of children, especially the most marginalized, across their two decades of life?

 

2018 partnership achievements

  • literature review- 91 resources reviewed in depth, whittled down from 1600+
  • 17 country-specific case studies from interviews with Faith Actor Partner (e.g. IRCLs, Faith-based Universities, National FBOs and faith-based networks), Government Partner, and UNICEF on partnerships – 42 people interviewed
  • country mapping
  • content review – 27 toolkits reviewed
  • Theory of Change development consultation with 13 institutions

The partners collaborated with Religions for Peace (RfP) to hold a multi-country consultation in Bangkok in July to input into the programmatic framework. Participants included 17 UNICEF Country Offices and 5 RfP Interreligious Councils. Over 100 participants from 20 countries across all regions of the world. The collaboration also launched the Faith for SBCC Web Platform. 

The evidence developed from 2018 from faith-based knowledge, social and behavior change knowledge, Academic and NGO sources culminated in drafting a translated conceptual framework.

This new way of working will be tested in in-country through workshops 2019 to develop principles for systematic engagement with FBOs at scale for social and behavior change, guidelines, and resources.

Listening to religious leaders in Bangkok

For more information please contact the JLI Director of Research, Dr. Olivia Wilkinson at [email protected]

The Center for Faith and the Common Good (CFCG) is pleased to announce the receipt of a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation’s Program on Religion in International Affairs, to be carried out by The Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities (JLI). The project, titled “Religion, Refugees, and Forced Migration: Making Research-informed Impact in Global Policy Processes” will be in collaboration with Dr. Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh at University College London and with the support of Atallah Fitzgibbon at Islamic Relief Worldwide, the co-chairs of the JLI Refugees and Forced Migration Learning Hub. Dr. Olivia Wilkinson, JLI Director of Research, will oversee the work focused on the translation of research for impact on policy and practice.

Project activities will include the production of policy guidelines and annotated bibliographies that synchronize existing research on faith and refugees with the three main themes of the programme of action for the Global Compact on Refugees (reception and admission, meeting needs and supporting communities, durable solutions). Other activities will focus on outreach through newspaper articles, podcast episodes, infographics, press releases, media packs, and social media messaging. To ensure that these activities reach the right people, the researchers will also undertake a mapping exercise of key influencers and then arrange a series of consultations and briefings to reach out to specific groups in global hubs of decision making and activity on refugee response. Briefings are planned in New York around the General Assembly in September as well as in Geneva, and Beirut or Amman.

These research translation activities will coincide with the final stages of the development and the adoption of the Global Compact on Refugees. They will help to inform new audiences in the humanitarian and development field of the existing and growing evidence base on religious belief, practice, and faith-based work related to refugees.

For more information please contact the Joint Learning Initiative’s Director of Research, Dr. Olivia Wilkinson at [email protected].

 

Progress

 

 

 

 

See Police Brief and Resource Brief

JLI Webinar: Marking the Global Compact. See video recap here

 

The Global Cause Partnerships (GCP) Team is a dynamic and growing team responsible for building partnerships with organizations committed to fundraising and advocating in support of the world’s most vulnerable children. Partners include service and faith-based organizations, diaspora communities, professional and trade associations and other 501(c)(3) organizations.

 

Reporting to the Senior Director, Global Cause Partnerships, the Manager will identify, manage and grow fundraising partnerships between UNICEF USA and civil society partners, with a focus on faith-based organizations. UNICEF USA recognizes the shared commitment with these groups to ensuring the survival and well-being of the world’s children, and the Manager will develop strategies to build trusting and long-lasting relationships with these constituencies. The Manager will be responsible for developing new and stewarding existing partnerships within this portfolio to meet fundraising and engagement goals in support of UNICEF’s global work.

 

This is a three-year grant-funded position.

For full position description see here

Good Practices with Local Faith Communities Submission

DEADLINE EXTENDED, 30th April 2018

The JLI Refugee Hub is working alongside UNHCR to undertake an analysis of Good Practice Examples of Local Faith Community Responses to Refugees as part of the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) and Global Compact on Refugees processes.

The first stage of the research will identify and examine one or more examples of good practice in each of 7 case study countries:

Honduras, Mexico, Central African Republic, Uganda, Lebanon, Germany, and Bangladesh.

The good practice case studies will be communicated to UNHCR. We will also be working with local researchers to conduct up to 30 interviews with refugees, hosts, and faith leaders in each country to provide evidence from primary research on the good practice case studies. In order to identify good practice case studies, we invite you to submit for consideration good practice examples and recommended interviewees from the 7 countries.

The form will ask you to provide some brief information on the case as well as interview recommendations in the country. The initial findings will be presented at the UNHCR NGO consultations at the end of June.

Please complete the form by COB Eastern Standard Time on the 30th April 2018.

We hope to invite key religious leaders from the case study countries to the events in late June/early July. Please add suggestions to the interview recommendations on the form, identifying them as a religious leader.

We would be grateful if you could circulate this invitation to your colleagues and networks in or with knowledge of the 7 countries.

Again, the link to the form

We will be in touch again in due course to provide further information about the next stage in this 18-month action-research project. This will include capacity building and training elements.

With many thanks and all best wishes,

Dr. Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh                             Atallah Fitzgibbon
University College London                               Islamic Relief Worldwide

JLI Refugee Hub Co-chairs

Event Date

Monday 12 March

  • Women of Faith Speaking to Structural Change: Empowering Rural Women
    Temple of Understanding (Armenian Convention Center, Guild Hall)
  • Empowerment Stories and Interfaith Actions, United Religions Initiative (URI) (Armenian Convention Center, Guild Hall)

Tuesday 13 March

Wednesday 14 March

  • Faith and Feminism: Voices of Affirmation National Public Radio (NPR) Interview with Randy Cohen – Person, Place (Must RSVP)
  • 8:30 am: Frontline Leadership: Rural Women in the Anti-Fracking Movement, Mining Working Group (Salvation Army,  221 E. 52nd Street)

Thursday 15 March

Friday 16, March

  • 10am: Launching the Global Consultation on the Islamic Gender Justice Declaration, Islamic Relief Worldwide (RSVP Required)
  • 12:15pm: Policy Roundtable of the Faith-Based Community of Praxis on Gender Justice, ACT Alliance (Invite only)
  • 6pm: 4th Annual CSW Interfaith Service of Remembrance and Gratitude, . Sponsored by United
    Methodist Women, NGO CSW, URI, Parliament of the World’s Religions, Temple of Understanding, International Federation of Women in Legal Careers (Church Center for the
    United Nations, Tillman Chapel 44th St and 1st Ave)

Monday 19, March

  • 10am: Building Bridges: developing effective partnerships between faith and secular actors to
    challenge discriminatory gender norms and secure rural women’s rights. Co-sponsors: Danish Mission, ACT Alliance, UNFPA (Ex-Press Bar, UN Secretariat (Entrance on East 46th street
    and 1st Avenue)

    • Presentation from JLI GBV Hub
  • 2:30pm: Human Trafficking in America– Risks for women and girls in rural areas and collaborative prevention by Faith-Based Communities, UNICEF USA, Arigatou International, NY Board of Rabbis (Salvation Army  221 E. 52nd Street)

Wednesday 21, March

 

Role of Religion and Faith-Based Organizations in International Affairs: Perspectives on Migration

On 22nd January 2018, the Fourth Annual Symposium on the Role of Religion and Faith-Based Organizations in International Affairs was held at the UN Secretariat in New York. The full-day event was organized by ACT Alliance, the General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church, the General Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists, and the World Council of Churches. Co-sponsors were the Adventist Relief and Development Agency (ADRA), the Parliament of World Religions, and the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect on behalf of the United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force on Engagement with Faith-based Organizations. The focus of this year’s symposium was “Perspective on Migration: Displacement and Marginalization, Inclusion and Justice.”

Deputy Secretary-General, Amina J. Mohammed. Ms. Mohammed opened the event and reported that this was an issue close to the Secretary General’s heart. She acknowledged the ways in which faith-based organizations can bring both their extensive experience and moral voice to the work of providing for displaced people. Other speakers included many JLI member organizations, such as Rev. Dr. Olav Fyske Tveit, General Secretary of the World Council of Church and Mr. Rudelmar Bueno de Faria, General Secretary of the ACT Alliance.

Jonathan Duffy, JLI Board co-chair and President of ADRA spoke in the afternoon session on “Development, Humanitarianism, and Human Rights.” In his speech, he highlighted the work of the JLI in convening on evidence related to religion and refugees and mentioned the new scoping study on this topic. Dr. Olivia Wilkinson, JLI Director of Research, attended the event and spoke to attendees about the scoping study.

 

Repost from Refugee Hosts 

Efforts to bring local faith actors (LFAs) into the wider humanitarian apparatus have been a key aim of the localisation of aid agenda. In this piece, Olivia Wilkinson (Director of Research of Refugee Hosts’ research partner, the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith & Local Communities) argues that there is a need to ensure that such engagements provide space for LFAs to remain faith actors, while also aligning them with international humanitarian principles. This requires us to reflect on the histories and values underpinning humanitarian principles, as well as the agency, complexity and nuance of local faith actors and refugees. For suggested readings on this theme, see the reading list at the end of this article, as well as our ongoing series, Contextualising the Localisation of Aid Agenda, for more. 

When Local Faith Actors Meet Localisation: Understanding the Space between the International and the Local in relation to Humanitarian Principles and Religion

By Olivia Wilkinson, Trinity College Dublin and JLI Director of Research 

In late 2016, the Joint Learning Initiative’s Refugee and Forced Migration Learning Hub -a Hub co-chaired by Refugee Hosts’ PI, Dr. Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh and Islamic Relief’s Sadia Kidwai – began scoping out what is known about the place of religion in refugee response. The overarching project was split into two studies: the first analysing religion and refugees in regards to localisation and urbanisation, in recognition that refugees increasingly live outside camp settings and that local faith actors (LFAs) are active in aiding refugees in urban settings; and the second to examine the stages and spaces of refugee experience in relation to religion, to understand the moments at which religion and religious actors play a role in the trajectory of refugee journeys and the places in which these interactions happen. The first part of the scoping study was launched in October 2017 at the “Localizing Humanitarian Response Forum: The Role of Religious and Faith-Based Organizations” in Sri Lanka, which Estella Carpi wrote about in an earlier post in this series. The second part of the study will be launched towards the end of this year.

Echoing Estella’s post, in addition to other pieces published on Refugee Hosts (herehere and here), the study speaks to the opportunities and challenges of engaging with local religious actors in refugee response. The state of the art literature review and the interviews with key experts that underpinned the study found that religion adds immediate complexity to the localisation debate, often in ways that can be controversial and are therefore sidelined. While we found a multitude of ways in which local religious actors provide services for refugees, it is a struggle to find mention of these actors in any of the main documents tied to the localisation of aid (see page 14 of the report for some examples). While the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) includes faith-based organisations (FBOs) as stakeholders, the specificities of LFAs in their different contexts requires detailed analysis that is not included in the use of the broad-brush term, “FBO”.

The challenges faced in engaging local faith actors in refugee response are not new just because localisation is the current buzzword. The reasons why LFAs are not more involved in international humanitarian response for refugees have always been the same: religious actors can be party to the conflicts that drive forced migration; they can be partial in their assistance, prioritizing those of the same faith and overlooking those of other faiths; they can enforce cultural and gendered stereotypes; they proselytize, using their assistance to convert vulnerable people to their religion; and they are overburdened and lack the capacity to comply with humanitarian standards. Some of these points are common to other local actors as they are politically and socially embedded and equally lacking in capacity to keep up with the demands of international humanitarian donors.

Yet LFAs continue to respond to refugees around the world, including in urban environments. If we are to believe in the earnestness of the call to localise from the international humanitarian community, then this must naturally include LFAs. To be involved in localisation, LFAs must overcome, and international actors must equally find ways to overcome, these barriers so that equal partnerships can develop.

From the research, there were several examples of ways in which these challenges were encountered, yet had been, to greater and lesser extents, overcome. To dive in the deep end, it is often held that for LFAs to be fully inducted into the international humanitarian community, they must not proselytise their faith. This standard is of course crucial, allowing humanitarian actors to ensure that assistance is given freely and without conditions.

The literature paints a more nuanced picture however. First, it is often dangerous, or highly disadvantageous to convert. In research from Kaoues in Lebanon, it was found that Muslim converts to Christianity were doubly rejected, both from the Muslim refugee population of which they had previously been part, and the Lebanese Christians in their new religious community. This demonstrates that in many cases the short-term material benefits linked to conversion are soon outweighed by the social disadvantages. In particular, this example shows the important need to recognise the intersections of ‘minority’ and ‘majority’, and how this is ‘read’ and ‘ascribed’ by observers on the basis of ethnicity and other identity markers.

Second, local religious leaders are not necessarily playing a short-term numbers game to gain converts, but aiming to build prolonged relationships within their broader community. In comparison to short term missionary trips from various external countries, local religious leaders embedded in communities do not want to pressure people to convert through their assistance, as noted by research from Kraft, also in Lebanon.

Finally, as Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh has pointed out in much of her research, the agency of beneficiaries has been overlooked. In the Sahrawi refugee camps (in Southwest Algeria), she found that refugees’  political representatives, “mobilized religiously-related claims to maximize diverse short- and long-term benefits both inside and outside the camps,” accessing both material resources and the political support provided by Evangelical American actors in the camps and in the USA.

While this demonstrates a need to recognise the complexity of proselytisation and the nuances of the contexts in which it takes place, it does not do away with the fundamental concern of faith actors tying their assistance to conversion. Most of our interviewees reported having seen or heard about such practices. However, interviewees also explained the ways in which they had still managed to successfully partner with LFAs who had initially included types of proselytisation in their assistance. One interviewee described a negotiation with a local faith actor in which they held a meeting with refugees about their religion, but only after all distributions had been made so that attendance was a choice and not tied to assistance. In their opinion, the method maintained dignity on both sides, recognising that the refugees and local faith community involved in distribution were able to uphold their identities without compromising the distribution. This was a one-off solution, but in another example from the Lebanese Society for Education and Social Development (LSESD), they conducted training on humanitarian principles for LFAs. They reported some initial missteps in explaining the concepts behind the humanitarian principles to LFAs and described how they had learned that specific examples were more effective than providing an abstract description of concepts such as impartiality and neutrality.

On one hand, there is the fear that LFAs will be “NGO-ised” through the localization agenda, to the point that they lose any identity as faith actors, becoming instrumentalised sub-contractors for international humanitarian organisations instead.

On the other hand, there are sensitive ways to conduct trainings that allow organisations to remain faith actors, while also aligning them with international humanitarian principles. This element of complexity in engagement with LFAs shows that international humanitarian organisations must be committed to capacity building in humanitarian principles, standards, and compliance with LFAs, while recognising the agency of refugees and LFAs to interact around and about their faiths, without assuming it is proselytization.

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Featured Image: Baddawi refugee camp in North Lebanon has been hosting refugees from Syria since the outbreak of the conflict. The Masjid al-Quds mosque – in the background – is at the geographical and metaphorical core of the camp. Masjid al-Quds overlooks the cemetery, the camp’s ultimate shared space in life and death for new and established refugees alike. (c) E. Fiddian-Qasmiyeh 

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For more readings on the themes explored in this piece

click here for the Refugee Hosts Faith and Displacement series, here for other contributions to our Refugee Hosts ‘Contextualising the Localisation of Aid‘ blog series

Recommended readings:

 

 

Consultant to research the role of religious leaders in efforts to end child marriage

In 2017, Girls Not Brides gathered insights from practitioners and compiled useful resources on this topic. However, we found very few tools to support organisations in overcoming obstacles created by conservative leaders who oppose efforts to end child marriage.
Girls Not Brides is seeking an experienced consultant to start filling this gap, and develop products to support Girls Not Brides members in overcoming challenges related to engaging religious leaders in their work on child marriage. Given the complexity of various religious discourses and landscapes among each religion practiced across the world, this assignment will focus on one of the three major religions in the top 20 countries with the highest rates of child marriage: Christianity, Hinduism and Islam.

This assignment is part of Girls Not Brides’ 2018 online learning series, which encourage Girls Not Brides members to explore one approach to end child marriage every month. Engaging religious leaders will be the focus topic for May. Ahead of this, the consultant will be asked to develop the two products described in this terms of reference, and to facilitate an online discussion with Girls Not Brides members about the early findings from these products. The final products will then be launched at Girls Not Brides’ Global Meeting – a global conference gathering hundreds of civil society organisations and development partners – in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from 25 to 27 June 2018.

See Terms of Reference – Child marriage & religious leaders

 Anglican Alliance launches global focus on anti-slavery initiatives in Freedom Year
The Anglican Alliance has produced a Freedom Year booklet to help people engage with the fight against modern slavery and human trafficking in 2018.
Photo Credit: Anglican Alliance

The Anglican Alliance, which helps to coordinates Anglican churches and agencies to work for a world free of poverty and injustice, has launched a year-long focus on anti-slavery initiatives across the Communion. Through its Freedom Year initiative, the Alliance is inviting people to learn more about human trafficking and modern slavery in the world today, pray for change, and take action to end it. A Freedom Year booklet, which will soon be available in Portuguese, Spanish and French, contains monthly themes and activities to “help us to take action, and encourage us join the fight against human trafficking and modern slavery, both locally and globally,” the Alliance says.

The booklet also contains prayer points to underpin the project, and the activities build up to what the Alliance hopes will be “a month of focused prayer and advocacy in July”, which they are calling Freedom Month, culminating in the International Day against Trafficking in Persons on 30 July.

“We hope that this year you will be encouraged to connect with people around the world, to learn from each other, and to recognise the crucial role that churches play in the fight against human trafficking,” the Alliance says.

The initiative is based on “Seven Ps”: Prayer, Prevention, Protection, Prosecution, Partnership, Policy and Participation.

Human trafficking and modern slavery is an international crime being carried out on an immense scale. Last September, a report by the UN’s International Labour Organisation (ILO) revealed that more than 40.3 million people across the world were victims of modern slavery in 2016 – and 71 per cent of them were female and a quarter were children.

The figures also showed that almost 25 million people across the world were trafficked for labour. More than 15 million people were in forced marriages and almost five million people were victims of forced sexual exploitation.

In a video marking the launch of Freedom Year, the Revd Rachel Carnegie, co-executive director of the Anglican Alliance, said: “We invite you to join us on a journey – a journey together when churches around the Communion will work together to tackle the terrible crime of modern slavery.

“Individually it is very hard to do something, but together, and in this Freedom Year, we really pray to God that we can make a difference.”

Resolutions calling for action on human trafficking were passed by the Anglican Consultative Council at their last meeting in Lusaka in April 2016; and last October, at the Primates’ Meeting in Canterbury, Anglican leaderfs described human trafficking as “a crime against humanity which profits from the exploitation and abuse of vulnerable individuals.”

The primates committed themselves “to address this issue in our countries and across the globe.”

The Anglican Alliance is working ecumenically to help co-ordinate action on human trafficking and modern slavery; and works particularly closely with the Salvation Army and Caritas – the Roman Catholic Church’s international development charity. And throughout the world, Anglican provinces are working to tackle the issue in their localities.

Initiatives include a dedicated date in the lectionary of the Anglican Church of Melanesia, an ecumenical initiative to tackle the problem in Kenya, regional consultations with a view to establishing a country- wide programme in Canada, and the Church of England’s Clewer Initiative, which is helping dioceses and wider church networks to develop strategies for detecting modern slavery in their communities and help provide victim support and care.

For more information see the Freedom Year Website

Follow on Facebookand Twitter, using the hashtag #ChurchesAgainstTrafficking

JLI’s Partner the GHR Foundation is seeking a Senior Program Officer- Initiative Faith and Development.

The senior program officer is part of GHR’s Program Leadership Team whose primary responsibility is to lead GHR’s Initiative on faith and development. This person will be responsible for designing and implementing a strategic portfolio of grants and non-grant activities to both inform and advance the catalytic effect that faith can have on positive change in the world.

As lead for GHR’s Initiative on Faith and Development, specific qualifications sought include:

  1. General Subject Matter Knowledge
  2. Strategy and Learning
  3. Relationship Builder
  4. Links with Private Development Funders and Organizations

To Apply
Send cover letter and CV to [email protected]. Position will remain open until filled.

More information at the GHR Foundation website