Religious Leaders Help Fight Global Poverty

(Washington, DC, 15 April 2008)

Leaders of different faiths in Religions for Peace, the world’s largest and most representative multi-religious coalition, joined together with members of the international women’s and development communities to launch a new initiative that places women and girls at the center of the fight against global poverty.

An unprecedented US$1.5 billion in commitments to women’s and girls' issues was announced at the launch of the Woman, Faith, and Development Alliance (WFDA) at the Washington National Cathedral. At the “Breakthrough Summit,” visionaries and executives offered a historic look at the global needs of women and pledged support for the WFDA. Religions for Peace is a co-founder of the Alliance, along with the Cathedral’s Center for Global Justice and Reconciliation, Women Thrive Worldwide, and InterAction.

Sheikh Shaban Mubaji, Co-Chair of the Religions for Peace African Council of Religious Leaders and Grand Mufti of Uganda, served as Co-chair of the Summit along with Her Excellency Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, President, Republic of Liberia; Her Excellency Mary Robinson, Former President, Republic of Ireland; and The Right Honourable Kim Campbell, Former Prime Minister, Canada.

Dr. William F. Vendley, Secretary General of Religions for Peace and a member of the Summit’s Leadership Council, said, “Women of faith are already on the frontlines in combating poverty. They are there with enormous strength, creativity and commitment providing leadership and resources to end poverty. Multi-religious cooperation is key to harnessing the power of existing faith communities to place women and girls at the center of the fight against global poverty.”

H.E. Mary Robsinson said, “We tend to work in kind of silos. Also, there have been times when women and faith communities have not seen eye to eye on certain issues; we know that. But there’s far more that we have in common. One thing that really strikes me is that if this Breakthrough Summit is really going to carry on and build trust, particularly in the women’s movement, it’s going to need faith leaders who are strong and courageous and on the side of gender justice.”