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Commemorating World Interfaith Harmony Week: Sister Francisca Ngozi Uti at the 2024 World Interfaith Harmony Week in Addis Ababa – CWSI Skip to main content
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Commemorating World Interfaith Harmony Week: Sister Francisca Ngozi Uti at the 2024 World Interfaith Harmony Week in Addis Ababa

By May 27, 2024July 12th, 2024No Comments

In April 2024, Sister Francisca Ngozi Uti,  Executive Director of the Centre for Women Studies and Intervention, attended a pivotal conference during the World Interfaith Harmony Week held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Hosted at the prestigious Hilton Addis Ababa Hotel, the event was a confluence of faiths, aimed at promoting peace, human dignity, and environmental preservation across Africa.

In collaboration with AU-Citizens and Diaspora, the AU Interfaith Dialogue Forum, and the AU Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOC), the conference attracted over 200 participants including religious leaders, policymakers, and scholars from around the globe. The gathering was graced by the patronage of H.E Sahle-Work Zewde, the President of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia, emphasizing the high importance placed on interfaith dialogue in the continent.

The sessions spanned two days, from April 15th to 16th, under the theme “Interfaith Collective Action to Foster Peace, Human Dignity, Development, Preservation of Environment and to Counter Hate Speech, Violence and Xenophobia in Africa”. The agenda was rich, focusing on urgent global policy issues such as climate change, humanitarian crises, and the empowerment of women and children, directly tying into the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Conference featured series of Insightful discussions, which addressed the interconnectedness of religious peacebuilding and urgent global challenges like climate change and democratic governance. Noteworthy was the first plenary session moderated by Dr. Mohammed Elsanousi, which linked religious action with efforts to combat climate change and uphold human rights Concurrent Sessions: Topics ranged from addressing the impacts of climate change, enhancing peace and security in Africa through interreligious dialogue, to the critical need for freedom of religion and the bolstering of human dignity. Each session aimed to integrate these deep-seated values into broader policy frame works.

Sister Francisca Ngozi Uti notably moderated the plenary session titled “Challenges and Opportunities of Empowering African Women,” which directly aligns with CWSI’s vision of envisioning a world where women and other vulnerable persons are empowered to actively shape a more equitable and progressive society. The session delved into the pivotal roles that women assume in peace-building and community development, especially within unstable environments

During the session, a range of critical issues and opportunities surrounding the empowerment of African women were discussed. These included the importance of education for women and girls, the leveraging of entrepreneurial skills, and the necessity of including women in all facets of societal development to ensure sustainable progress. The panel highlighted that while women bring unique insights and capabilities to the table, they often remain underutilized due to prevailing cultural and societal norms.

Sister Francisca’s role in moderating this discussion underscores her and CWSI’s commitment to these ideals. Her emphasis on the need for a more inclusive discussion at plenary sessions demonstrates a strategic approach to advocacy, pushing for broader engagement and awareness. Moreover, the suggestion to organize a conference to address gender misconceptions in education, particularly within Islamic contexts, highlights a proactive approach to tackle deeply ingrained societal and religious biases that hinder women’s empowerment.

The call to move beyond the often superficial application of the term “empowerment” towards a more inclusive and sustainable approach is particularly resonant with CWSI’s vision. Empowerment, as discussed, should transcend economic aid and address the structural inequalities that prevent women from fully participating in and shaping their societies. This involves changing narratives through education, increasing women’s access to resources, and actively involving men in the discourse on gender equality to foster an environment where women can thrive alongside men.

Sister Francisca and the panel’s discussion about the specific challenges African women face, such as exclusion from decision-making and increased vulnerability during conflicts, further aligns with CWSI’s mission. By advocating for women’s seats at decision-making tables and emphasizing the need for psychological support for women who become widows due to conflicts, the session echoed CWSI’s goal of creating a society where women are seen not just as beneficiaries of change but as crucial contributors to it.

In conclusion, the insights from this session not only contribute to the broader discussions at the conference but also offer tangible paths forward that align with the CWSI’s mission. Sister Francisca’s leadership in this dialogue serves as a vital link between the theoretical discussions at international forums and the practical, on-the-ground work needed to transform these ideas into reality, reinforcing the role of CWSI as a pivotal advocate for women and other vulnerable persons in Nigeria.

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