Fourth Annual Gender Justice Conference

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land concluded on Wednesday, June 26, 2024 the activities of its fourth annual conference on “Gender Justice from the Perspective of Citizenship and Religious Perspective” under the slogan “Freedom and Reform,” aimed at promoting discussions on gender justice and equality.
The conference was opened by His Eminence Bishop Dr. Sunni Ibrahim Azir, Archbishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, highlights his ongoing support for women's rights and involvement in leadership roles within the church and community. The bishop stated that the Church has since its founding focused on educating girls, creating institutions to support women, and providing equal opportunities for women and men in the Church. He pointed out the major challenges facing achieving equality, emphasizing the need for more conferences aimed at community awareness.
In her speech, H.E. Minister Mona Al-Khalili, Minister of Women, praised the Evangelical Lutheran Church's experience in the policies and actions she adopted to close gender equality and justice gaps and develop the work of ecclesiastical courts. Her Highness stressed the importance of continuing to hold dialogues aimed at coming out with policies, procedures and legal amendments that benefit women and protect their rights at all levels. And he added a. Dr. Jamal Zaid El-Kilani, Dean of the Faculty of Law at Al-Najah University, said that religion plays a key role in societies, where religious leaders influence significantly in political and social spheres at the local and international levels. He pointed out the importance of religious discourse being built on sound foundations to ensure positive impact, based on religious texts that set rules for achieving justice in dealing with others.
Ms. Rabie Odeh, the coordinator of Social Gender, Peace and Security Programs of the YW4A, learned about the Youth for Awareness, Agency, Advocacy and Accountability (YW4A) program, which is carried out in cooperation with local, regional and international partners, which aims to strengthen the capacity of young women, women's rights organizations and religious institutions to claim their rights. This is followed by an introduction by Ms. Ranan Issa, Director of the Gender Justice Office and Ms. Shaden Nassar, Project Coordinator of the Gender Justice Bureau in order to introduce the attendees about the work of the Office of Gender Justice in the Evangelical Lutheran Church and their role in organizing these conferences so that the important and effective role of religious leaders were emphasized. In the Palestinian society, their ability to contribute significantly to changing the traditional view of women and their rights, and raising awareness of the importance of gender equality
The first session focused on the rights of custody between the legal pluralism and the best interest of children, where Judge Samoud Zmiri, the first president of the legal representation in Palestine and the first member of the Court of Appeal, and Judge Scarlett Bashara, the first judge of the Evangelical Lutheran Ecclesiastical Court in Jordan and the Holy Land, worked together to prepare a joint research on this issue. In this research, I reviewed how legal and church laws are applied to the interests of children, and addressed some of the cases and challenges facing justice. Joint recommendations were reached centered on strengthening cooperation between different courts for the best interest of children. These efforts were documented in a short video titled "City of Justice" produced by Watan News Agency, which highlighted efforts to raise awareness on the importance of promoting justice and protection for children amid prevailing legal and social challenges.
This is followed by the screening of a documentary titled "Youth for Awareness, Agency, Advocacy and Accountability Program in Palestine" directed by Samir Qomosieh to highlight the Lutheran Church's ongoing efforts to empower women and girls. The second session, which discussed the reality of children and women under the genocide on Gaza, was held with the participation of Mr. Helmy Al-Arj, Director of the Center for Defense of Liberties and Civil Rights, who spoke about the legal and humanitarian situation in Gaza, highlighting the ongoing human rights violations. Mrs. Safia Ali, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Stars of Hope Association, WD. Iyad Karnz, director of the Gaza office of the Stars of Hope Society, addressed the impact of conflict on children and women with disabilities, and pointed out the psychological and physical harms that the most vulnerable in society are experiencing. Mr. Rami Khidar, Director of Anar Society for Empowerment and Psychological Support, spoke about the empowerment and psychological support programs offered by the Association to affected children and women, emphasizing the role of these programs in strengthening their ability to cope with trauma and challenges they face.
The conference concluded with a word and a closing prayer from Rev. Sally Azar, the first pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, where she expressed her appreciation for all participants and contributors to the conference, stressing the importance of continued work and collaboration to achieve gender justice and protect children and women's rights. The conference was concluded by Mrs. Sherin Awad Hilal, the conference facilitator, who thanked the attendance and emphasized the importance of applying the recommendations and outputs reached during the conference.
The conference was attended by nearly 100 participants and participation from various religious leaders and governmental entities related to women's and human rights, as well as representatives of civil society and academia.

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