Jimmy Carter, former President of the United States and global humanitarian hero, selected the Melbourne Parliament in 2009 to state for the frst time (and in no uncertain terms) that the world’s religions must be the catalyst to remedy centuries-long oppression of women and girls, and blaze the trail toward real human rights in the world.
At the Faith In Women plenary on Friday, October 16th, the Parliament stage continued to spotlight the women rising to this call.
Each keynote address escalated the energy in the already-electric room. Parliament Youth Representative to the United Nations, Sara Rahim, commanded the stage as she reflected on her feminist understanding of her Muslim faith, stating confidently that her faith is her call to action. And author and spiritual teacher Marianne Williamson
brought a clarion call to the plenary with this powerful truth:
“Passionate and free-thinking women have never been deeply appreciated by the great religions of the world. Because passionate, free-thinking women raise passionate, free-thinking children. And passionate, free-thinking children grow up to be passionate, free-thinking adults. And passionate, free-thinking adults are very difficult.”
President of the Union Theological Seminary Serene Jones, feminist Hindu environmentalist Dr. Vandana Shiva, and Sikh activist, lawyer, and filmmaker Valarie Kaur each went straight to the heart of why women’s leadership is revolutionary.
Diverse but complementary expressions of women’s equality framed the reading of the Parliament Declaration of the Human Rights and Dignity of Women, which would go on to be a touchstone of the next days of the Women’s Initiative.
“We call upon all religious leaders and adherents to acknowledge and emphasize the positive messages of dignity and equality that the world’s faiths share.
We call upon all religious leaders and adherents to embrace their moral responsibility and collectively commit to ensuring that women are fully and equally involved in decision-making within religions and in every sphere that involves their lives.
We call upon the world’s religions to honor and uphold the dignity, well-being, and human rights of women and girls.
We commit ourselves to this collective undertaking to heal the heart of our humanity by releasing women, girls, men, and boys from the bondage of gender-based discrimination and violence. We do so with hope and with faith in our future.”
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