A new consortium, convened by the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) and recently launched at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), will be looking at how poverty reduction efforts can actively redress religious inequalities, support inclusive, religiously diverse communities and promote the benefits of interdependence among people beyond religious and non-religious lines.
The Coalition for Religious Equality and Inclusive Development (CREID), which is funded by the UK Government’s Aid Connect programme includes (in alphabetical order): al Khoei Foundation, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Minority Rights Group and the World Organization for Al-Azhar Graduates (WOAG), affiliated to the Grand Al-Azhar University.
The consortium draws together a formidable wealth of expertise and experience in understanding the way in which individuals and groups’ right to belief (or non-belief) is upheld or violated, in poverty reduction and pathways of empowerment and in informing policy and challenging practice.
As Professor Mariz Tadros, who is the director of CREID noted in a recently published blog, religious inequalities are a glaring blind spot in development.
Professor Tadros highlights how the 21st century has already witnessed two instances of violent and systematic communal targeting in Iraq and in Myanmar, linked to religious inequalities. While the conflict in both contexts cannot be reduced to religious inequality alone, it is clear that particular groups were targeted on the basis of their religious affiliation. And there are, sadly, many other, less extreme examples where religious affiliation or individual belief has resulted in marginalisation and exclusion as well as violence.
CREID’s programme of work – underpinned by the vision that diversity, inclusion and a sense of interdependence are necessary ingredients for redressing religious inequalities and poverty reduction – will be looking at interfaith service delivery, development and religious minorities, online/offline monitoring, coalition building and cross-fertilisation between the development, humanitarian, rights and faith sectors.
UK Aid Connect, launched in 2017, supports consortia of diverse organisations, including but not limited to civil society, to create innovative solutions to complex problems facing the poorest people.