How United Religions Initiative Celebrated International Women’s Day

Elana Rozenman (near far left) from Israel visits a URI leaders in India.
As the official blog overseer of the United Religions Initiative (URI), I search for stories and try to raise the voices of our interfaith activists as best I can. So, as a woman who deeply cares about peace building and women’s rights, my job can be hugely rewarding.

As most Her Blueprint readers are well aware, International Women’s Day (IWD) was celebrated around the world on March 8th

For me, it was a pure joy to learn about how this momentous occasion was interpreted and celebrated throughout the global URI network.

Our Cooperation Circles—that is, groups of seven or more that represent at least three different faiths or cultures—can be very progressive. Imagine people from every faith coming together to talk about the delicate state of the planet and how to become better stewards of the Earth —it happens everyday, somewhere within the URI network.  

Now imagine women coming together for peace: Christians and Muslims in Pakistan, Muslims and Jews in Jerusalem—this also happens, but on an even larger, or at least more visible, scale on International Women’s Day

The women of URI never need a reason to celebrate and unify for peace; however, IWD is a great way to mobilize a series of events on one day and under one unifying theme.

This year, the United Nation‘s official theme was “Equality for women is progress for all.” URI’s women leaders embraced this sentiment wholeheartedly. Here are a few snapshots of their events:

- Just south of Mumbai in Satara, India, hundreds of Hindu and Muslims women created Rangolis, or floor decorations, on the theme “Women they want to be.” A panel discussion was held on women’s roles in nation building through peace and communal harmony work.

-In Pakistan, Muslim, Christian, and Hindu women came together to receive dance and other performances by children with the theme of women’s empowerment. The female attendees spoke about the local Cooperation Circle WAKE (Women and Kids’ Education), and how its vocational training programs were empowering them to find better jobs.   

-In the Great Lakes region of Africa, more specifically, Kampala, a panel discussion with roughly 50 women from very diverse faith backgrounds was held. The theme was “Inspired by my faith for positive social change.” Women were given a safe space to discuss workplace discrimination, domestic abuse, and the lack of rights to their children and in owning property.  

-In Jerusalem, Israeli and Palestinian women came together to view Women of Cyprus, a documentary about Turkish and Greek women reconciling after the Cyprus conflict. Along with the Greek female parliamentarian who directed the film, a panel of Israeli and Palestinian women discussed the documentary’s relevance to their current situation.

At United Religions Initiative, our women leaders are finding common ground and common goals, elevating both the cause for peace and the cause of women’s equality every day.

As UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon recently said, "The evidence is clear: equality for women means progress for all."