zaterdag, november 16, 2019 - 09:30 to 17:00
Join us! Please register through our online form (click here).

In the public discourse religions do more harm than good with respect to rights of women, stereotype gender roles, and sexual minorities. But this is not the whole story. Religions and worldviews are superdivers. What does the interreligious and intra-religious dialogue look like regarding issues of homosexuality and gender roles for example? What does feminism and masculinity mean in discussions about gender and faith? And what is the role of eco-feminism in the debate on religion and gender? Join us for the annual Interfaith Conference to explore these questions together. The conference takes place on Saturday November 16, 2019, at the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague.

Anne DijkThe annual Interfaith Conference invites you to an open-minded interaction with people from different walks of life. This year's theme is Gender, Spirituality and Religion: Endangering or Engendering?. The conference is organised by Initiative of Change Netherlands, the International Student Chaplaincy, and Haastu and hosted by the Institute of Social Studies (ISS) in The Hague. Keynote speaker is Anne Dijk (Fahm Institute). 


Keynote speaker Anne Dijk

Anne Dijk is a religious scholar and Islamic theologian with a specialization in structures of authority including gender and authority in Islam. Dijk is founder and director of Fahm Institute. Fahm Institute is an independent organization that aims to create a better understanding about Islam and Islamic related issues.
In her academic degrees, she focused on the reinterpretation of Shari'a, argumentation in Islamic jurisprudence (Usul al-Fiqh) and gender & authority in Islam. Furthermore, she is dedicated to bringing people from divers backgrounds, religions and culture together through various forms of dialogue. Dijk is co-founder of Su-Shi Intrafaith Dialogue and is passionate about creating a just world for all.

Date: Saturday November 16, 2019
Time: 9:30 - 17:00
Location: Institute of Social Studies, Kortenaerkade 12, The Hague


Dialogue tables
After the plenary session we will continue the conversation on the conference theme in smaller groups in a so-called dialogue table session. Every table has a different thought provoking statement to stimulate the conversation with other participants. During the session you will move from table to table so you will have the opportunity to share your experiences and views and listen to the views of participants in your group.

Life stories
In this session, people tell their life stories that engage visitors with their own stories and conversations. These persons all have a story to tell about their approaches to bridge the gap between religion and gender. During the session there is space to listen, ask questions and start a conversation with the storytellers.

Closing ceremony
At the of the day there is a musical performance followed by a closing plenary to wrap up the day.

Children's programme

For children between 4 and 12 years we offer a special programme during the main sessions. If you want to register for this programme, you can do so through the online registration form.


Registration and contribution

Please register online:

The registration fee is 15 euro for non-students and 5 euro for students. The fee includes access to all conference sessions, coffee and tea breaks, a healthy lunch and snacks.

Please note that second-class train tickets can be reimbursed within the Netherlands.

For questions please send an email to the team of the Interfaith Conference.

LIFE STORIES | Interfaith Conference 2019

On November 16th the Interfaith Conference 2019 will take place at the International Institute of Social Studies in The Hague.

In the afternoon you can listen to Life Stories of 11 people. During these Life Stories the people are sharing their story with you. They all have a story to tell about their view on Gender, Spirituality and Religion. During the session there is space to listen, ask questions and start a conversation with the storytellers. Below you find the list with all the storytellers of this year.

1. Meeting todays keynote speaker Anne Dijk by Anne Dijk | Room 3.01

Anne Dijk is the keynote speaker of the day. In the afternoon ‘Life Story’ session, she will introduce and discuss the most known religious texts from the Qur’an and the Islamic tradition concerning the role of women and men. Of course, in this session you can also continue the discussion of her keynote.

2. ‘Redefining and re-envisioning masculinity: Gender perspectives and experiences working with Catholic Bishops in the Philippines’ by Daren Paul Katigbak | Room 3.14

Daren Paul Katigbak is a registered nurse, midwife and a Public Health professional from the Philippines. At present he is working with the Episcopal Commission on Healthcare of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines. The commission promotes the fullness of life for all and pastoral care for vulnerable and marginalised populations. The commission also promotes mainstream gender equality and sexual and reproductive rights among different catholic schools, universities and different local churches all over the Philippines. Daren Paul is MA-student at ISS and with a major in Human Rights, Gender and Conflict studies.

3. ‘Are worldviews and feminism compatible? Discovering feminism in México’ by Brenda Rodríguez Cortés | Room 3.25

Brenda Rodríguez Cortés is a PhD Candidate at ISS. She holds a Master in Development Studies with a specialisation in Women and Gender Studies from the ISS, as well as a Bachelor in International Relations from Tecnológico de Monterrey, México. She is particularly interested in issues regarding decolonial feminism, gender, sexuality, as well as social movements of resistance. Brenda will share her personal story of how she was growing up in México and discovering feminism. Have you ever wondered if your beliefs and feminism are compatible?

4. ‘Healing past traumas and inter-faith harmony in Bangladesh’ by Shucheesmita Simonti | Room 3.26

Shucheesmita Simonti completed an MA in Development Studies with a Major in Human Rights, Gender and Conflict Studies at the ISS. She is currently based in The Netherlands and is the project officer of the Bangladesh Workgroup at The Hague Peace Projects. She is editor of the English website of an award-winning women-centric online portal founded in Bangladesh. She is passionate about women empowerment and interfaith dialogues. Coming from an interfaith family background, born to a Hindu mother and a Muslim father, she is passionately involved in promoting interreligious harmony. For Shucheesmita, it is not just a passion to contribute towards a harmonious society, but also a way to come to terms with her past and healing traumas caused by personal experiences of religious intolerance in South Asia.

5. ‘A Jewish voice about sexuality and honorability’ by Anne-Maria van Hilst | Room 4.01

Anne-Maria van Hilst studied world religions in Leiden and started doing a double bachelor in History and Hebrew at the University of Amsterdam. These studies were combined in a master in Jewish history with a focus on sexuality and honorability. During her studies her interest in the interreligious dialogue was aroused. She is head of education for the Reform Jewish Community in Amsterdam. Sexuality and religion are words that most people wouldn't combine in one sentence. Even though both subjects are a key part of live. In Jewish tradition there are a lot of texts about sexuality and honorability. It's not just about having rules to preserve your honor but more so about how and why you should enjoy your sexuality. How do these rules fit in to your religious life?

6. ‘The infinite potential of women’, A Hindu perspective on female religious leadership’ by Pta Chandra Abhelakh | Room 4.26

Pta Chandra Abhelakh is a Pandita, Hindu priest of the Arya Samaj in The Hague. She says, “If we want the future to be like a beautiful, fragrant and full open flower, then women and men need to work together in all areas. For a promising future, the mind and the intellect of women and men must become one. Men and women must stop competing with each other and climb hand in hand to material and spiritual heights. This is the purpose of humankind. But in reality, priesthood is a men’s world. Both men and women are suspicious of female priests, panditas and have to get used that women can do this work as good as the men. So panditas, continue this spiritual work, accept yourself as a lioness and be proud of yourself. Women have already everything to shine in this society”.

7. ‘Using social media for feminism in Bangladesh’ by Ajanta Deb Roy | Room 4.14

Ajanta Deb Roy is a prominent social media activist on issues of politics, religious fundamentalism, racism, and human rights. She is doing her second master and is recently on a study break from her MSc in Conflicts, Rights & Justice in the School of Oriental & African Studies (SOAS), London. She worked on the award-winning ITV documentary ‘Islam’s Non-Believer’ as a research analyst. She is the Joint Editor of a women’s rights magazine which is getting published in India. She has initiated and is running a social media campaign #BeHumaneFirst, giving a strategic rebuttal to the growing religious fundamentalism and extremism in Bangladesh. Her idea is to use social media to spread the message of love, care and support to ensure peaceful coexistence of every citizen with a motive to peacefully resolve the ongoing internal conflict between the secularists & religious fundamentalists.

8. ‘An honest conversation about diversity, masculinity and spirituality’, a Kenyan perspective by Otieno Ong’ayo | Room 4.25

Otieno Ong’ayo is an academic researcher at ISS in the field of governance, law and social justice. His main research interest are politics of development, migrants and development, and civil society and state relations. “If we are part of the entire creation (human and others), how do we then function in a shared space (earth, village, city, country or continent) with all the diversities? While these are, simple questions informed by common sense of our times and experiences, the themes of gender/masculinity and religion/spirituality seem to demand an open and honest conversation and dialogue within safe spaces where a systematic response can be given to a diet of questions generated by how we treat each other based on the frames we have about gender/masculinity, religion/spirituality”.

9. ‘I am a privileged human being: a male, white, gay, and loving believer’, a Dutch pastor’s perspective | Room 4.39

As a retired pastor of the Protestant Church in The Netherlands and the chairman of the Council of Worldviews and Religions as well as the chairman of the Dutch Society of Queer Theologian (WHT), this Dutch pastor will share his life story with us: “I had a happy youth in a Christian family. From the outset I knew I was different. Till I met the love of my life, I was leading a closeted life. Later I became active in queer theology and since 9/11 in the interreligious debate. I am a privileged human being: a male, white, gay, and loving believer, carrying my identities lightly. More important than what I am, is how I am! The voice that always engendered me is becoming more clearly every day now.”

10. ‘The world of humanity has two wings’, a Baha’i gender perspective’ by Solange Hai | Room 4.42

Solange Hai is a member of the Baha'i Community. She is originally from the United States and had lived and worked in Latin America, Africa and Europe. Solange is the Program Manager of Women in Enterprise at CARE Nederland, empowering women from low-income communities through the development of their enterprises. Solange's professional and research interests include gender transformative change, social entrepreneurship, and sustainable development. Raised in the Baha'i faith, Solange started learning early in life about the equality between women and men. The Baha'i Writings say, “The world of humanity has two wings—one is women and the other men. Not until both wings are equally developed can the bird fly. Should one wing remain weak, flight is impossible.” She'll share with you her learning journey in this interactive session.

11. ‘‘ At home there was an altar with statues of the Buddha, a male and a female’ - a Buddhist perspective’ by Thanh-Dam Truong | Room 1.31

Thanh-Dam Truong is a retired associate professor for gender and development studies of the ISS. She introduces herself, “I was born and raised in a Buddhist family in Vietnam, and at a very young age, regularly accompanied my parents and siblings in sessions of meditation at home and in the pagoda. In the course of my participation, I realized that I have grown-up with interfaith practice inside and outside my home without knowing it. At home there was an altar with statues of the Buddha, a male and a female.

My spiritual universe was open to each other for cooperation in social work and spiritual wellbeing of faith followers. Interfaith is a concept I have learned at since ISS in the late 1980s when it was revealed that students of different faiths needed a place of stillness for meditation and share their spiritual experiences. In this session I wish to share my personal experience of becoming aware of the inter-relationship between different traditions of spirituality and wisdom and what it means for us humans today."

Interfaith Conference 2018