In 2011, I attended and led a discussion group for the Carter Center’s Human Rights Defenders Forum, with the theme of Religion, Belief and Women’s Rights. You can learn more about that forum in my short post at the Immanent Frame.
The Carter Center, along with its partners across the globe, sponsored a follow-up to this forum in June of 2013, titled Mobilizing Faith for Women: Engaging the Power of Religion and Belief to Advance Human Rights and Dignity. Although I wasn’t at that event, I’m viewing the web-cast several weeks later, after returning from vacation and a couple of busy weeks at work!
Much of my work has been at the intersections of women’s lives, religion and human rights, and it is exciting to see how much work organizations like the Carter Center have dedicated to exploring these issues with a vast range of academics, practitioners, and people on the ground. As we continue to think about how these pieces and issues intersect, I think that it’s important to remember that religion matters in women’s lives in various and complex ways – not just by way of institutions or leaders, but also through the diffuse practices, traditions and beliefs that people hold. As I’m revising my dissertation for a book project, it’s this nugget of a finding that sticks out to me. As women talk about when “God was there” or as they turn to prayer and mothering practices to heal from conflict, post-conflict or gender-based violence, it’s not always the institutions or leaders that matter most (although they often do – and they can do so much to help and/or harm women and men who have experienced violence). Sometimes it’s the more diffuse practices or affective ways of experiencing the divine that make the most difference in how survivors are able to heal (if and when they are). More on this later, as I continue to dig back in to the writing.