Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji

Religion and religious leaders play a crucial role in fostering peaceful and inclusive societies, said Global Interfaith WASH Alliance secretary-general Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji.

Her address at the UN World Headquarters during the United Nations Alliance of Civilisations Global summit also highlighted the importance of women’s leadership and sustainable development at a time of increasing global strife and insecurity.

Sadhviji’s panel on strengthening the visibility of women in the peace process, moderated by former UN ambassador Louise Kanthrow, brought together renowned women leaders from acclaimed institutions including Georgetown University and the Tutu Campaign.

In her address, Sadhviji said we should uplift women and girls today so that they are equipped to lead the way for a peaceful tomorrow.

“Now is the time to promote the building of skills so that women can especially play key roles at negotiation tables,” she said. “We also must look for the causes of violence and insecurity in the first place, and call for unified actions towards a more sustainable world, including ensuring access to safe water and improved WASH.”

Sadhviji also highlighted the importance of religious leadership, saying religious heads should guide their followers in the right path.

“We can always find doctrines of separation, doctrines that permit us to exclude the other, but today as religious leaders we must find doctrines of togetherness. We must take back religion from being an agent to separation to being an agent of oneness,” she said.

In her concluding remarks, Sadhviji said peace cannot be achieved without water. “Even if we can get people to stop killing each other over their religion, they will kill each other over lack of water, lack of food, lack of resources. People will be in dire straits fighting for ever diminishing resources. So if we are committed to building truly peaceful and inclusive societies we must ensure access to clean water,” she said.