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Defending Women’s Rights in the Contemporary World – A Faith Perspective
More than thirty years after adopting the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), many girls and women still do not have equal opportunities to realize rights recognized by law.  We are also all too conscious of increasing violence against women due to climate change, war, etc. While 189 countries have ratified CEDAW the United States is among the eight countries which have not done so, including Iran, Sudan, Somalia, and the Holy See. Women and girls worldwide are still married as children or trafficked into forced labor and sex slavery. They are refused access to education and political participation, and some are trapped in conflicts where rape is perpetrated as a weapon of war. Globally, deaths related to pregnancy and childbirth are needlessly high, and women are prevented from making deeply personal choices in their private lives as noted in the overturning of Roe v. Wade. In some patriarchal societies, religion or tradition can be used as a barrier to equal rights.
Sikh Dharma International is hosting a panel discussion on Monday, August 14th at 5:30 pm CT in Hall E Room 13:

Professor Jagbir Jhutti-Johal BA (UCL), DPhil (Oxford) - Panel Moderator

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 She has been an academic at the University of Birmingham since 2002 focused on Sikh theology, inter-faith dialogue, gender inequality, Sikh identity in the diasporic community, racialization and mistaken identity, and other contested issues that confront the Sikh community nationally and globally.  Her work in the Edward Cadbury Centre for the Public Understanding of Religion looks at public policy, and social and political engagement issues as they affect and are affected by the British Sikh community. She is a steering group member on the UK Freedom of Religion or Belief Forum and was recently appointed to the Panel of Experts on Freedom of Religion or Belief by the OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe)/ODIHR (Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights). She is also a presenter on the Thought for the Day segment on BBC Radio 4's Today program, and a board member and trustee on a number of organizations and was given the special award of Order of the British Empire “OBE” for services to Higher Education, Faith Communities, and the Voluntary Sector in 2019. 

 Nadine Maenza  

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 Nadine Maenza is a noted speaker, writer, and policy expert with over two decades of experience as an advocate for working families and a champion for international religious freedom.  Nadine is the President of the International Religious Freedom (IRF) Secretariat, an international organization focused on building religious freedom globally, running the IRF Roundtable in Washington, DC, and in over 20 countries globally. In January, she also joined The Wilson Center as a Global Fellow. 

In May 2020, she was re-appointed by the White House to a second two-year term on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, serving as its Vice Chair in 2019.  She has represented USCIRF in delegations to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Myanmar, Bahrain, Indonesia, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Thailand, Taiwan, and Uzbekistan. She has traveled in her own personal capacity to better understand religious freedom conditions in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, and Bangladesh as well as recently spending a month in northeast Syria. She is most honored to have met with persecuted communities of various faiths from around the world. 

 Karen Danielson

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 Karen has served as a Member of the Council of Islamic Organization of Chicago (CIOGC) Interfaith Committee since 1993. With an MA in Islamic studies she has specialized in Islam, Islamic History, and the Muslim World seeking to expand and deepen student understanding and social correlation of Islam and Muslims as part of a comprehensive social appreciation and insight for the academic success of students; Karen has lived and studied abroad both in Jerusalem and Amman Jordan; for more than 30 years she has immersed herself in public relations, public education, teaching, and interfaith dialogues.  

 Christine Budzowski 

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 Christine’s passion for interfaith work began as a teenager and has continued to develop through her work with The Guibord Center, specifically focusing on issues of gender-based violence against women and girls, antiracism, and nonviolence. Diocese of Los Angeles, and the Climate Action Committee. An active Episcopalian, she has served in leadership for Episcopal Church Women (ECW) from the local to the National level, currently as president of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles and as part of the development team for the Leading with Heart leadership program for Province VIII ECW. Christine also serves on the Program Group on Compensation and Benefits overseeing fair and equitable compensation for clergy and lay employees in the Diocese of Los Angeles, and the Climate Action Committee.  

Dr. Nikky-Guninder Kaur Singh

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Dr. Nikky-Guninder Kaur Singh, Crawford Family Professor of Religious Studies and Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at Colby Center for the Arts and Humanities has been teaching at Colby for 34 years. Her interests are centered around poetics and feminist issues. She is an internationally renowned scholar of Sikhism and has published several books, translations, and articles on the topic. She is a pioneer in her feminist approach to the Sikh tradition and its literature and has opened up the field to other academics. Her feminist translations of Sikh scripture are gender inclusive. “Language does not simply mirror reality; language has the power to transform reality”. She has lectured widely in North America, England, France, India, and Singapore, and her presentations have aired on television and radio in America, Canada, Bangladesh, Australia, Ireland and India. 

M.S.S. Kirtan-Singh Khalsa

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Kirtan-Singh Khalsa currently serves as the Chief Operating Officer of Sikh Dharma International (SDI). SDI is the host of this panel discussion and aims to bring focus and attention to issues concerning women's rights as was emphasized by the founder of the Sikh Dharma, Guru Nanak Dev Ji (1469-1539)  

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