Women’s Networks Events
The following events have been sponsored by the Pluralism Project in order to further the work of our women’s networks initiative. To view all of our events, click here. You can also view events by type: affiliate, case study, civic, documentary films, interfaculty, interfaith, international, student conferences, and women’s networks.
On October 2, 2011 the Pluralism Project co-sponsored “Muslim Women’s Religious Literacy: The Legacy of Nana Asma’u in the Twenty-First Century and Beyond," a panel discussion at Harvard Divinity School in honor of his Eminence the Sultan of Sokoto’s visit to campus. The Sultan is the religious leader of one of the largest Muslim communities in Africa. Nana Asma’u, a great aunt of the Sultan, was one of the most important Muslim women scholars and educators in nineteenth-century Africa, as well as a poet. Panelists included: Beverly Mack, Director of the University of Kansas African Studies Center; Ousseina Alidou, Director of the African Studies Center, Rutgers University; Zainab Alwani, Howard University and Fiqh Council of North America; Mohamed Elsanousi, Director of Outreach, Islamic Society of North America; and His Eminence Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, the Sultan of Sokoto. The event was hosted by Harvard Divinity School’s Women’s Studies in Religion Program.
On September 17, 2010, the Pluralism Project co-sponsored a panel discussion on “Faith-Based Family Dispute Mediation and Arbitration: North American Muslim Contributions & Priorities” along with the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program. The event, organized by HDS students Celene Ayat Lizzio and Aliya Vajid, sought “to connect scholars, students, and practitioners who have an interest in how communities of Muslims perceive of and adhere to select aspects of family law in the North American context.” Panelists included Dr. Zainab Alwani, the first female jurist to serve on the Fiqh Council of North America; Amin Kassam, member of His Highness Prince Aga Khan Shia Imami Ismaili National Conciliation and Arbitration Board for the United States; and Intisar Rabb, a faculty member at the Boston College Law School, where she teaches in comparative and Islamic Law. The panel was moderated by Sarah Eltantawi, PhD Candidate in the Study of Islam at Harvard’s Committee on the Study of Religion. Following the presentations, audience members were invited to participate in a robust discussion on “how religious values and principles are brought to bear on cases of mediation and arbitration, both within formal legal systems and on alternative forums of dispute resolution.”
Pluralism Project Moderates Panel at “Women2Women International Conference”
On August 4, 2010, Pluralism Project Assistant Director Kathryn Lohre moderated a panel of local women leaders in a discussion on women’s roles and leadership in faith-based and interfaith organizing at the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center. The event was part of Empower Peace’s “Women2Women International Conference,” a yearly conference for over 100 teenage women from the United States and the Arab and Muslim world who come together in order to build “much-needed bridges of understanding and trust between improbably allies, uniting them across shared interests and purpose.” The panel was preceded by an orientation to the Center, and to Islam in America; delegates also had the opportunity to participate in or observe evening prayers. Lohre helped organize the panel, which included Jenny Peace, managing director of the Center for Interreligious Leadership Education (or CIRCLE) at Andover Newton School & Hebrew College; Janet Penn, executive director of Interfaith Action in Sharon, Mass.; and Malika Rashdan, director of ICNA Relief Boston.
Pluralism Project Co-Sponsors Muslim Women’s Leadership Conference
On Friday, October 30, 2009, the Pluralism Project co-sponsored “Muslim Community Leadership in America: Women’s Challenges in Horizons” at Harvard Divinity School. Other sponsors included the HDS Diversity Fund, the Women’s Studies in Religion Program, the Center for the Study of World Religions, and certain member of the HDS faculty. This student-initiated conference was the brainchild of Celene Ayat Lizzio, an MDiv student who organized this conference as a field education project with the help of her peers. Its purpose was to provide “an opportunity for Harvard affiliates and guests to converse about the contributions of women in the American context to the vitality and diversity of lived Islam…We aim to consider how customs, communal expectations, legal frameworks, and religious pedagogies influence women’s communal empowerment.” Guest speakers included Muslim American women who are or were chaplains, scholars, architects, and Islamic legalists.
On June 13, 2009, the Pluralism Project co-sponsored a screening and discussion of The Mosque in Morgantown at Harvard University. Directed by Boston-based filmmaker Brittany Huckabee, this documentary explores journalist Asra Nomani’s controversial campaign against what she believes are warning signs of Islamic extremism in her local mosque in Morgantown, West Virginia: the exclusion of women, an intolerance towards non-believers, and a growing suspicion of the West. After the screening, Dr. Diana L. Eck moderated a discussion on the film with Brittany Huckabee; Dr. Jocelyne Cesari, director of the Islam in the West Program; and Dr. Leila Ahmed, the Victor S. Thomas Professor of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School. The Mosque in Morgantown premiered nationwide on PBS on June 15, 2009. The event was co-sponsored by the Pluralism Project, Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries, and the Islam in the West Program at Harvard University.
Religious Pluralism in a Time of Extremism: The Campus Responds
On March 2, 2008, the Pluralism Project participated in a day-long conference at Tufts University entitled, “Religious Pluralism in a Time of Extremism: The Campus Responds.” Keynote speakers included Diana L. Eck, Mohammed Abu-Nimer, and Marc Gopin; Victor Kazanjian moderated their discussion on the topic of “The Imperative for Sustaining Dialogue in Difficult Times.” Workshops were led by students, faculty, community leaders and activists from organizations in Greater Boston and around the country, and focused on interfaith dialogue, social action, leadership skills, and the media. Pluralism Project Assistant Director Kathryn Lohre screened our documentary film “Acting on Faith: Women's New Religious Activism in America” in one workshop. This conference was hosted by the Campus Dialogues Program, and marked the culmination of a two-year partnernship among campuses at Tufts University, Wellesley College, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Brandeis University, and the University of Maryland, and supported by the Department of Homeland Security. The goal of the Campus Dialogues Program is to “support the development, implementation, and refinement of programs aimed at reducing intergroup tensions among university students of different religions in the United States.”
The Mosque in Morgantown
On December 11, 2007, the Pluralism Project sponsored a rough cut screening of the film, The Mosque in Morgantown, for a select audience of students and scholars. This documentary chronicles the conflict that arises in small-town West Virginia when Asra Nomani, a Muslim feminist, challenges women’s roles at the local mosque. It captures the stories of Nomani and other mosque members as they struggle to shape the future of their community. The film is an entry for viewers into questions about Islam in America, women in Islam, and what it means to be a “moderate” Muslim in America. At the screening, discussion was moderated by Director/Producer Brittany Huckabee, principal of Version One Productions, Inc., and Associate Producer Ann Kim, graduate of Harvard College. The film is scheduled to premiere in fall 2008.
On September 28-29, 2007, we held a seminar on "Women's Interfaith Initiatives After 9/11" at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Women who established selected women's interfaith organizations formed after 9/11 were invited to join us, our faculty colleagues, and women from other religious and interfaith organizations, for two days of presentations and discussion. In addition, we explored the models and methodologies at play, and considered the relationship of these new organizations to the women's and interfaith movements. We are very grateful to the Radcliffe Institute for making this exploratory seminar possible, and to all of the participants who invested their time and energy towards new collaborations.
On May 2, 2006, Saleemah Abdul-Ghafur and Sarah Eltantawi joined the Pluralism Project for a luncheon discussion. Abdul-Ghafur is the editor of LIVING ISLAM OUT LOUD: American Muslim Women Speak, a book which features 15 American Muslim women dealing with the complexities of forging their own identities while playing powerful roles in public life. Sarah Eltantawi contributed to the book and is a cofounder of the Progressive Muslim Union of North America and from 2001-2004 served as Communications Director for the Muslim Public Affairs Council in Washington, DC. The speakers drew out a lively discussion among the large group convened to hear from and about Muslim women who “don’t remember a time when they weren’t both American and Muslim.” As Saleemah put it, “Now more than ever, the world needs to hear our voices.”
Christian Palestinian Peacemaker Jean Zaru Visits Cambridge
On April 2, 2006, Jean Zaru, the presiding clerk of the Ramallah Friends meeting in Ramallah, visited Cambridge to speak at Memorial Church. She also met with a group convened by the Pluralism Project for a luncheon discussion. She is a founding member of Sabeel, an ecumenical liberation theology center in Jerusalem, and the author of A Christian Palestinian Life: Faith and Struggle. In 2003, she participated in the Pluralism Project's conference on “Women, Religion, and Social Change II” as part of our Women’s Networks initiative.
On March 2, 2006, the Pluralism Project co-sponsored an event with the Kennedy School of Government's Women in Public Policy Program and the Islam in the West Project entitled, “Emerging Forms of Muslim Women’s Leadership.” The featured speakers included Sarah Eltantawi, media commentator on American Muslim affairs and Middle East policy and doctoral student in religious studies at Harvard University and Raheel Raza, author of Their Jihad...Not My Jihad!: A Muslim Canadian Woman Speaks Out. Ms. Raza was also the first Muslim woman to lead congregational Friday prayers in Canada. In a Q&A session, the participants explored questions of Muslim women's leadership. A reception and book signing followed the discussion, which drew more than 75 people from the Harvard community and the greater Boston area.
On April 25, 2005, we premiered a documentary film produced and directed by one of our affiliates, Rachel Antell, and narrated by Dr. Diana L. Eck called Acting on Faith: Women’s New Religious Activism in America. The film was developed out of the conversations that have taken place in our women's networks over the years. It features Dr. Shamita Das Dasgupta, co-founder of Manavi, Inc.; Dr. Leila Al-Marayati, spokesperson for Muslim Women's League; and Mushim Ikeda-Nash, former chairperson of the San Francisco Zen Center Board Committee on Diversity and Multiculturalism and diversity facilitator.
On April 4, 2005, the Pluralism Project hosted an interfaculty luncheon with Baroness Julia Neuberger DBE, rabbi and health care policy expert. Neuberger spoke of her experiences on the commission that reported on Islamophobia in the UK. The conversation included topics such as race relations legislation in the UK, religious schools, and religiously diverse hospital chaplaincies.
September 13, 2004, at the Holeman Lounge, National Press Club, Washington, D.C.
April 27–29, 2002, at the Barker Center, Harvard University, and the John F. Kennedy School of Government
November 2, 2001, at The Harvard Club of New York