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Women on the Front Lines of Defending Democracy

Throughout history and across the globe, women are the inevitable first to lose their freedoms when authoritarians seize power. But women of faith have always been a powerful force in the fight against autocracy, from contemporary protests and civil disobedience to ancient spiritual movements. Today, women are on the forefront of championing freedom and challenging oppressive regimes.  On International Women’s Day, the Women’s Task Force of the Parliament of the World’s Religions is hosting an important and inspiring conversation with women of faith who are bravely active in the fight against autocracies around the world. Please join us in expanding our circle of support and engagement for women of all faiths at this critical time.

Join experienced leaders at 12:00 pm CST on Friday, March 8th for International Women’s Day as part of the FOCUS24 | Faith, Democracy & Our Common Future: Shaping a Path Forward. FOCUS24 is a year-long ticketed interfaith series building capacity, fostering community, and advancing advocacy efforts in this critical “year of democracy.” Join us in shaping a path forward, register today!

Already registered? Visit the FOCUS24 All-Access page to add the event to your calendar.


Featured Experts

Sousan Abadian Teacher, Executive Director of the Interfaith Council of Metropolitan Washington

Dr. Sousan Abadian earned a Ph.D. in Political Economy and Government from Harvard University, an M.A. in the Anthropology of Social Change and Development, also from Harvard, as well as an M.P.A. in International Development from Harvard’s Kennedy School. In 2022, she was a Fulbright Scholar in the Specialist Program in Canada consulting with First Nations on curriculum, “Indigenous perspectives in a changing world.” Her earlier research on generative cultural renewal and addressing the effects of long-standing collective trauma and cultural damage in Indigenous communities was described by Nobel laureate in economics Amartya Sen as “pioneering” and “highly original.” She now teaches, speaks, and consults internationally on leadership, personal and cultural renewal, healing intergenerational collective trauma, and integrating indigenous knowledge and wisdom. She builds on her earlier work at Cambridge Leadership Associates facilitating workshops and speaking on Adaptive Leadership. Between June 2017 to June 2019, Dr. Abadian served as a Franklin Fellow at the U.S. State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. Her portfolio included preventing violent extremism, rights of religious minorities in the Middle East and South Asia, gender-based violence, and cultural restoration following atrocities. She has also served as a Fellow at M.I.T.’s Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values as well as at Harvard’s Center for Public Leadership. She is the author of Generative Cultural Renewal: An Effective Resource in Ending Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting & Other Harmful Practices (Waterside, Oct 2022) which offers ethical and culturally-sensitive means of evolving traditional cultural practices.

Jennifer Butler, Consultant, writer, and speaker on religion, public policy, and democracy.

Rev. Jennifer Butler has spent the last three decades strengthening and rebuilding the progressive faith movement. She has dedicated her life to helping individuals and communities ground themselves in liberative spirituality that empowers them to speak out with a faithful voice to change the world.

In 2005, she founded Faith in Public Life (FPL) to amplify progressive faith voices and forge multi-racial, multi-faith and ideologically diverse faith coalitions to work for justice and the common good. In founding FPL, Rev. Jen drew on her decade long experience countering religious extremism with a faithful argument for democracy, the rights of women and LGBTQ people. Her book Born Again: The Christian Right Globalized (Pluto Press) remains a go-to resource for those tracking white Christian nationalism globally.

Rev. Jen Butler served as CEO of Faith in Public Life from 2005 to 2022. Highlights of her work as CEO include mobilizing a multi-state faith strategy to secure passage of the Affordable Care Act and defeating Republican efforts in 2017 to gut the bill. She spearheaded faith based campaigns to defeat fake religious freedom bills at the state level by empowering ideologically diverse religious leaders to oppose discrimination in the name of faith. Rev. Jen also led FPL in the Trump years to draw a bright moral line in the sand against rising authoritarianism and racism.

Rev. Traci Blackmon, PoWR Trustee and Pastor of The United Church of Christ

The Rev. Traci Blackmon is the former Executive Minister of Justice & Witness Ministries of The United Church of Christ and Senior Pastor of Christ The King United Church of Christ in Florissant, MO. Initially ordained in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Rev. Blackmon served in various ministry capacities for nine years prior to becoming ordained in the United Church of Christ and installed as the first woman and 18th pastor in the 159-year history of Christ The King United Church of Christ. As pastor, Rev. Blackmon leads Christ The King in an expanded understanding of church as a sacred launching pad of community engagement and change.

Rev. Blackmon is a graduate of Leadership St. Louis and currently serves on the boards of the Parliament of the World’s Religions, The Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, Chicago Theological Seminary, and WomanPreach! Rev. Blackmon currently resides in both St. Louis, MO and Cleveland, OH and is the proud mother of three adult children: Kortni Devon; Harold, II; and Tyler Wayne Blackmon.

Rev. HPs. Phyllis Curott, Author, Wiccan high priestess, and Co-Chair of the Women’s Task Force at PoWR.

Phyllis Curott is a spiritual pioneer. As one of America’s first public Witches, teachers and advocates, she has spent more than 40 years helping Witchcraft become the fastest growing spirituality in America and expanding its reach across the globe. Phyllis is an attorney whose groundbreaking cases secured the legal rights of Witches, including the right to form religious organizations, perform legally binding marriages, perform rituals in public places, have religious holidays off from work, retain custody of children, wear or display symbols of faith, and more.

Phyllis is also an internationally best-selling author and the most widely published Witch/Wiccan priestess in the world. The creator of the acclaimed Witches’ Wisdom Tarot with artist Danielle Barlow, her YouTube series What is Wicca? has 3 million views, and her online course Awaken the Witch Within has helped countless seekers discover and deepen their practice of Witchcraft as the modern rebirth of Euro-Indigenous wisdom traditions.