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Meet Azza Karam: The New and First Female Secretary-General of the World Conference of Religions for Peace

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Meet Azza Karam: The New and First Female Secretary-General of the World Conference of Religions for Peace
written by
Kareem Sheta

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It’s time to take a break from sports and entertainment news, and shift our focus to accomplishments impacting a more global audience, particularly peace and religion. On the 22nd of August, during the 10th World Assembly in Germany, Religions for Peace stated that Professor Azza Karam had been selected as the new Secretary-General of Religions for Peace, succeeding Dr William Fray Vendley.

Before we start talking about Karam’s impressive background, let’s shed some light on Religions for Peace. It’s an international union of representatives, founded in 1970, from the world’s religions, dedicated to promoting peace. The headquarters is situated in New York City, with occasional regional conferences all across the continents. It also shares a consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), UNESCO, and UNICEF


Now, for the women of the hour, Dr Azza Karam. According to her LinkedIn profile, her list of achievements begins with the base of any well-founded leader, education. After receiving her Bachelor of Arts at AUC, a master’s degree in politics of development strategies from the ISS of Erasmus University, Rotterdam, and a doctorate of philosophy from the University of Amsterdam, she led quite a fruitful life and career.

She built her way up through senior positions at several well-known organisations, including the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme), and eventually reaching her current occupation of Senior Adviser at the United Nations Population Fund, and Professor of Religion and Development at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, as well as her recent well-deserved promotion and recognition as the Secretary-General of Religions for Peace.

Watch Azza Karam’s recent interview with DW anchor-correspondent, Terry Martin, as they discuss several critical topics, including the importance of interfaith initiatives, and her being the first woman ever to hold such a vital role. Karam said, “I tend to think that my own accomplishments are actually nothing in relation to the fact that a group of religious leaders and institutions from around the world agreed to elect a woman”. She continues, mentioning that most of these institutions are male-dominated, “That in itself is actually the much more transformative enlightening thing that is actually happening.”