“Religious freedom for everyone, everywhere, all the time” was the motto for the fourth annual International Religious Freedom Summit 2024 held January 29-30 in Washington, DC. This two day event drew religious freedom advocates — faith groups, civil society, and governments — to listen and learn and to build bridges and new alliances to defend those who are denied the right to practice their faith, to follow the dictates of their conscience, or to practice no faith at all.
In addition to three Plenary Sessions on the main stage and four breakout tracks titled Vulnerable, Violations, Voices and Victories, IRF Summit 2024 presented an opportunity to equip and encourage young advocates with a Young Champions Track. Twelve sessions offered during the two-day event covered a range of topics such as Protecting and Defending Refugees & Victims of Religious Persecution, Sustained Media Campaigns: A Collective Strategy and a Presentation of Youth-Led Projects. 21Wilberforce Advocacy and Training Coordinator, Trent Martin, participated on the panel titled Resources and Opportunities for Young FoRB Champions.
The Young Champions Track was planned by Dr. Nguyen Thang, Executive Director of BPSOS, and featured a variety of IRF leaders including Hulda Fahmi of Jubilee Campaign, Merv Thomas of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Kaylee Fisher of IRF Secretariat, Annie McKinney of JDA Worldwide, Fiona Bruce, UK Envoy for FoRB and outgoing chair of the International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance (IRFBA) and Robert Rehak, incoming chair of IRFBA.
When asked about the importance of focusing on the next generation of IRF leaders, UK Envoy for FoRB Fiona Bruce said, “We have to inspire the next generation of FoRB ambassadors to be trailblazers. FoRB is not a side issue. We need to mainstream it, and if we can encourage the next generation, I call this the ultimate upstream prevention work.”
Young FoRB Advocates can access information about internships, fellowships and trainings here.