The United States Institute of Peace, the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, and the World Faiths Development Dialogue have recently initiated a concerted exploration of “the intersection of women, religion, conflict, and peace.” Led Katherine Marshall (Berkley Center and WFDD) and Susan Hayward (USIP), the project seeks to foster greater attention to women’s roles in conflict situations and peacebuilding efforts. As its website states,
Scholars and practitioners have devoted increasing attention to the roles played by religious leaders and communities, both in instigating and prolonging violent conflict and in negotiating and building peace. In much of the world, formal religious leadership tends to be heavily dominated by men, and so investigations of religion and conflict have tended to focus on men’s perspectives and roles. Women’s engagement in religious peacemaking has received far less attention and their perspectives, needs, and unique leverage are often largely ignored in the design of traditional religious peacemaking initiatives. However, women often play critical roles in conflict situations. Their inspiration, motivating framework, and active community roots frequently have faith dimensions even if these are not formally acknowledged. The lack of analysis on the intersection of women, religion, conflict, and peace has led not only to a gap in understanding the nature of conflict, but has hidden from view potential avenues for resolving conflicts, promoting healing after conflict, and building sustainable peace.
The project is currently hosting a symposium in Washington D.C., and an extensive series of interviews with leading figures in the peacebuilding world is also available at the Berkley Center’s website.