Faith-based humanitarian and aid organisations strengthen commitment to gender justice and equity

The members of ACT Alliance, the world’s largest humanitarian and development movement of faith-based organisations, gathered this week for its General Assembly in Uppsala, Sweden.

The members approved ACT Alliance’s new strategy for the years 2019–2026: Putting People First, focusing on a holistic and integrated response in humanitarian, development and advocacy work.

“ACT Alliance and its members included for the first time gender justice as a programme area in the Global Strategy. This makes ACT’s commitment to gender justice and equity even stronger than before,” says Jouni Hemberg, Executive Director of Finn Church Aid (FCA).

The Governing Board approved the ACT Alliance Gender Justice Policy already in 2017.

With 150 members and operations in 125 countries, ACT Alliance’s members stress that ACT plays a major role in tackling challenges around issues like climate change, conflicts, refugees, migration, extreme poverty and more.

“On a grassroots level, ACT members often have the best access, chances for cooperation and implementation of projects. However, without the coordination of our actions, the impact of our work would be more limited”, Hemberg says.

Youth participation took a leap forward

The General Assembly also invited its member organisations’ youth representatives for a two-day pre-assembly meeting. Sophon Chau from the youth network Changemaker Cambodia and FCA thought this was a great opportunity to meet face to face with youth from around the globe.

“It was also inspiring to see their commitment to making change in their communities and to exchange ideas with them on youth participation in varying contexts”, says Chau.

“We feel that the General Assembly took us very seriously and was committed to include youth in decision-making processes. There were some bureaucratic hurdles but the spirit of the assembly was unanimously supportive for our cause and we felt welcomed, listened to and wholeheartedly supported by the Alliance,” say both Chau and Jaro Karkinen, Chair of Changemaker Finland.

The most important message of the youth delegates was asking for two chairs for the youth in the governing board of the ACT Alliance to ensure access to decision-making.

“It is said that the youth are the future, but we also want to be part of today,” say Chau and Karkinen.

According to FCA’s report Youth on the Move, youth represent 1.8 billion opportunities.

“Young people have the energy and the ideas. To include us is a very easy thing to do: just allow us to participate and listen what we have to say. We want to be the Changemakers of our world.”

ACT Youth Community of Practice Pre-Assembly meeting in Uppsala, Sweden on October 26-27 2018. Photo: Simon Chambers/ACT.

Text: Minna Elo