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Human Rights Defenders

Religion, Belief, and Women's Rights

The Carter Center, Atlanta, Ga.

April 3-6, 2011

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From April 3-6, human rights leaders and scholars gathered at The Carter Center to discuss the key challenges that women's rights activists face and effective ways to bridge the gaps between religious, traditional, and formal state institutions to advance the protection of these rights. Though the women's human rights movement has made enormous strides in many societies, many religious and traditional institutions are failing to lead their communities away from discrimination, oppression, and violence against women, despite the profound influence of these institutions at the local level.

Keynote speakers included former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay.  The formal conference on April 5-6 was webcast live and will be archived on the Carter Center website.  Follow our twitter feed @CarterCenter and join in the discussion at #WomenandRights11.

Conference participants included Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im of Emory University's Law School; Rev. Timothy Njoya of Men for the Equality of Men and Women; Jacqueline Ogega of the Global Women of Faith Network; Molly Melching and Oureye Sall of TOSTAN, and other human rights leaders and religious scholars. (See full participant list PDF).

Preceding the formal conference, two days of workshops allowed activists, scholars, experts, and policy makers to interact on topics that covered key challenges such as advancing theological understandings in favor of women's rights, the role of women in political and other forms of leadership, technologies and information-sharing platforms, and networking and global solidarity.

Following the Atlanta conference, locally organized satellite events will enable interested participants to bring home ideas and tools for implementation, so participants can continue their collaboration at both the local and global level. 

Listen to Karin Ryan, director of the Carter Center's Human Rights Program, discuss the importance of the 2011 forum.  Watch video >