Global Perspectives | Bericht | 2. December 2020

Prof. Azza Karam: “A pandemic per definition is when plenty disasters come together.”

GP Video Interview on Fighting Gender-Based Violence through Multi-Religious Action

Prof. Azza Karam is Secretary General of Religions for Peace International and professor of religion and development at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Previously, she served as a senior advisor on culture at the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA); coordinator/chair of the United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force on Religion and Development; senior policy research advisor at the United Nations Development Program in the Regional Bureau for Arab States; and president of the Committee of Religious NGOs at the United Nations. She is the lead facilitator for the United Nations’ Strategic Learning Exchanges on Religion, Development and Diplomacy, building on a legacy of serving as a trainer cum facilitator of intercultural leadership and management in the Arab region as well as Europe and Central Asia.

GP Video Interview


Religions for Peace just hold its first Assembly on Women, Faith & Diplomacy. What was the cause for you to decide to make women the protagonists of this three-day conference?
This year, we celebrated to 25th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action, the 20th of the UN Resolution 1325 and the 50th of Religions for Peace. “One of the learnings from 50 years of multi-religious collaboration is that in order for the collaboration to be operational at any level, women’s concerns, insights and experiences have to be taken into account and rendered much respect to,” so Prof. Azza Karam.
Religions for Peace is an inter-religious network with leaders from all around the world. What is the asset of discussing global issues of peace and security across religions?
According to Prof. Azza Karam, discussing global issues of peace & security across religions is not just an advantage: “It’s a moral, political, social cultural, financial imperative.”
By providing multi-religious services to communities all around the world, Religions for Peace aims at providing a new paradigm – for thinking and for action.
“We have invested 75 years of the UN’s history of trying to build and support through governance. Now it is time to look at the multi-religious and not only at the multi-national”, Azza emphasizes. Only then, the multilateral would be backed to survive in the current century.
The corona pandemic has increased gender-based violence in all parts of the world, irrespective of religion, culture, or wealth. How can we combat this trend and what are the learnings you have drawn from your Assembly in this regard?
“The only way to combat a very long existing pandemic called gender-based violence (…) is to make sure that we can work together”, Azza stresses.
“Before COVID-19, there was already an HIV/Aids pandemic going, climate change has already been a global disaster. And then, we keep working in our incredibly respected silos, not understanding and appreciating that a pandemic per definition is when plenty disasters come together.”
Therefore, breaking the silos of theme, nation, geography, religion, ethnicity, race – and gender, is what the General Secretary regards as determinant for succeeding in any angle of global development.

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