The President of Arigatou International, Rev. Keishi Miyamoto, once stated that extreme poverty is the most extensive form of violence in the world; and it claims an enormous number of lives worldwide and leaves the survivors with unbearable and endemic suffering. Estimates of 1 billion children across the world live in poverty today; that is one out of every two children. It was because of such severe situations that the Interfaith Initiative to End Child Poverty (End Child Poverty), a global initiative of Arigatou International, decided to develop an Interfaith Guide to equip duty bearers with knowledge, skills and attitudes to help End Child Poverty.

Further discussions on the three sub-themes and the role of faith communities in ending violence against children continued on day three of the GNRC 5th Forum. Underlying factors contributing to physical violence, mental violence and poverty were widely discussed throughout the first session of day three. Participants identified deeply with these factors especially GNRC members who are working to make a better world for children. Instilling positive values in children, peace building, upholding of human rights, empowering child education and conflict resolution were viewed by many in the Forum to have great impact on ending violence against children, and which faith communities should promote.

“One out of three girls and one out of five boys will be exploited by the age of 18, 90% are by someone they know,” was one of the imperative statements issued by Dr. Alaa Murabit, one of the keynote speakers at the GNRC 5th Forum. Guided by the Forum’s three subthemes namely: the role of Faith Communities in Protecting Children from Violent Extremism, Gang Violence and Organized Crime; Nurturing Spirituality and Ending Violence in Child Upbringing; and Ending Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children, faith leaders, professionals, analysts and activists explored the reality of violence against children globally.

“One billion of the 2.2 billion children from all walks of life around the world endure different forms of physical and sexual violence, irrespective of ethnicity, nationality, race, religion or income levels.” This was one of the statements echoed on the first day of the Fifth Forum of the Global Network of Religions for Children. Five hundred and twenty religious leaders, members of diverse faith communities, government officials, leaders of faith-based organizations, United Nations officials, and representatives of international and grassroots organizations from around the world were present at the opening ceremony. The President, Arigatou International and Convenor GNRC, Rev. Keishi Miyamoto, the President of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela, the organizing and hosting committees of the Forum made remarks during the Forum. Key messages were also given by H.E Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, President, Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Holy See, H.R.H. Prince El Hassan bin Talal, The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, General Secretary, World Council of Churches.

Faith communities in Panama City, Panama have officially announced the upcoming GNRC 5th Forum set to take place in Panama City, Panama. The announcement, which was done at a press conference in Panama on 21st April 2017, was led by Mons. Sidney Fones, Chairman, GNRC 5th Forum International Organizing Committee and Rt. Rev. Julio E. Murray, Chairman, GNRC 5th Forum Hosting Committee. Among other invited guests included the media, government officials and non-governmental organisations.