IRLA Hosts Muslim Women Leader

News August 2005

Mrs Yao (3rd from L) with IRLA leaders and guests

On August 31, the International Religious Liberty Association (IRLA) hosted Ms. Yasmin Busran Lao, executive director for the Al-Mujadilah Development Foundation, Inc., in Quezon City, the Philippines.

As part of a three-week study tour, organized under the auspices of the Department of State's International Visitor Leadership program, Ms. Lao will be examining the leadership roles women occupy in government, business, education and community development, observing conflict resolution programs in universities and at the community level, and exploring religious diversity and the role of faith-based organizations in community life.

"We are always delighted to host such international visitors," comments Dr. Jonathan Gallagher, deputy secretary general of the IRLA. "In this way we can build bridges of understanding, especially emphasizing the importance of religious freedom and human rights as basic elements in all societies."

The discussion provided an opportunity for IRLA, Seventh-day Adventist church and the Adventist Development and Relief Agency International representatives to talk about issues affecting women in human rights, religious freedom and health. While Ms. Yao expressed that maintaining separation of church and state is easier said than done, she agreed with the group's suggestion of networking and partnering with local leaders of a community, especially in male-dominated communities.

One of the goals of the Al-Mujadilah Development Foundation, Inc., is to empower Muslim communities in the provinces, especially women, through the promotion of reproductive health and women's rights. [Viola Hughes/photographer & writer]