The study team of the Joint GNRC – UNICEF Study met in Florence 15 – 18 October for its Second Meeting at the UNICEF Innocenti Research Center
Study team members from Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Indigenous traditions met for a four-day meeting to share their findings on how children in different religious and spiritual traditions are valued, cared for and ministered to. Since the first meeting of the study team in May, each one of the members have been researching and writing a contribution from their specific tradition. The first two days of the meeting were spent on sharing the findings and giving input to the individual contributions. Several of the study team members pointed in their contribution to the discrepancy between the good teachings and the reality that children are facing.
After a half day break dedicated to visit historical and cultural sites in the city of Florence, the meeting resumed to allow study team members to spent time to distill the content of the contributions into a selected number of overarching issues to be addressed by the study. It was also discussed how to appropriately integrate the voices of the young people in the study process to allow their perspective to interact with the findings of the study.
An outline of the end product was also developed as well as ideas for a user-friendly material to accompany the more comprehensive outcome of the study. The last day was spent on discussing the content of a DVD for information and promotion of the study. Such a DVD will be produced for the GNRC Third Forum when the outcome of the joint study will be introduced. A more comprehensive educational material was also discussed as a possible follow up project of the study. It is foreseen to open a website in the near future to share the results of the study for a wider audience.
A third meeting of the study team is tentatively foreseen to take place in February 2008. It will allow for the members of the study team to engage in a process of “thinking together” inter-religiously on the issues raised during the study and determine what could be a joint contribution from the perspective of the different religious and spiritual traditions engaged in the study project.
The joint study on Children in World Religions aims at empower religious leaders, practitioners and young people to better effect change for children and young people. It is also about creating greater harmony and understanding among religious traditions and it will emphasize peace education, ethics and respect for diversity.
The UNICEF Innocenti Research Center (IRC) hosted the second meeting of the study team. The first meeting of the study team took place in Tokyo in May 2007 and was hosted by Arigatou Foundation. The IRC provided an environment for the meeting that assisted in putting the child in the center. It was established in 1988 to strengthen the capacity of UNICEF and its cooperating institutions to respond to the evolving needs of children and to develop a new global ethic for children. It promotes the effective implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in both developing and industrialized countries, thereby reaffirming the universality of children’s rights and of UNICEF’s mandate.
A full report of the Second Meeting of the Study Team will soon be available.