CIFA Executive Director Jean Duff speaking at the WFDA Asia-Pacific Breakthrough event.


DECEMBER 2-3, 2009: Women's organizations, faith communities and development agencies gathered in Melbourne, Australia to launch the Asia-Pacific Women, Faith and Development Alliance to catalyze investment in women and girls within the region. Over $1 billion in new commitments were announced, including a significant new allocation by AUSAID.

Headlining this even were Sister Joan Chittister OSB, founder and director of Benetvision and Chair of the Global Peace Initiative for Women, Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, executive director of the United Nations Population Fund, Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, general secretary of the World YWCA and Hon. Dame Carol Kidu, minister for community development, religion and sports, Papua New Guinea.

CIFA executive director Jean Duff spoke about the positive leadership the faith community can and must provide to change attitudes and cultural norms relating to women and girls. Together with Jackie Ogega of Religions for Peace, Jean represented the Women Faith and Development Alliance at the Asia-Pacific Breakthrough.

The Asia-Pacific Breakthrough is a replication of the Women Faith and Development Alliance launched at the April 2008 Breakthrough Summit held at the Washington National Cathedral. WFDA is convened by CIFA along with Women Thrive Worldwide, InterAction and Religions for Peace, and is supported by grants from UNFPA and ExxonMobil. The goal of WFDA is to put women and girls at the center of development by working to increase resources for women and girls.

Click here to learn more about the Asia-Pacific BreakthroughClick here to read a summary of the event

Issue Focus: Gender Justice

CIFA recognizes that women are:

  • 70 percent of the poorest and most vulnerable people on earth;
  • Two-thirds of the world's illiterate people;
  • 7 of 10 hungry people in the world;
  • Owners of one percent of the world's farmland;
  • Dying at a rate of 500,000 each year from preventable complications of pregnancy.

With these sobering numbers in mind, CIFA also sees the critical role of the faith community in partnering with development and women’s organizations to empower women and girls in the struggle for gender equity and economic empowerment. Faith leaders and communities have the power to influence the dignity and opportunities of women and girls, based on religious and moral teachings. This special status makes them especially well-positioned to advocate for an end to gender-based violence and the empowerment of women and girls in their communities.

To maximize the assets of the faith community in promoting the empowerment of women and girls, CIFA aims to:

  • Strengthen the case for faith-based contributions in women’s empowerment by better documenting and sharing information on how faith communities protect and promote the needs and rights of women and girls.
  • Build on existing efforts to bolster interfaith capacity to empower women and girls as a fundamental part of ending global poverty
  • Compile existing data and share information about what the faith sector already contributes to the empowerment of women and girls.
  • Work in collaboration with organizations such as the Women, Faith, and Development Alliance to coordinate advocacy, implementation, and resource mobilization for women and girls in ways that maximize the assets of the faith sector.

Gender Justice Resources: