principles and fundamental ideas

Peopel of different ages and religions sitting in a circle.
©Mária Takács
A sign reading: Respect and inclusivity. Brave space.

A World of Neighbours is built on an inherent plurality of beliefs, motivations, backgrounds, and circumstances.

At an individual level the practitioners participating in the network come from multiple religious traditions or none. Nonetheless, our practitioners are united by common values and ethical direction in their work of accompaniment and towards social cohesion. They also draw on a broad range of sources of inspiration, both secular and religious.

At a collective level, as a network rooted in interfaith praxis, A World of Neighbours acknowledges the importance of the religious dimensions in its activities. It does that in the atmosphere of respect and inclusivity.

The following principles express the assumptions adopted by the A World of Neighbours network.

Download the document The Place of Religion in A World of Neighbours.

Download the document Creating Brave Spaces.

Download our Gender Equality Plan.


The respect for diversity

We unconditionally appreciate the plurality inherent in the network in the spirit of equality.
We acknowledge that religious categories are not given, but that there are multiple versions and understandings of each tradition.
We accept and appreciate the disagreements arising from these differences and try to find constructive ways to engage with them.

The respect for the dynamics of religion

We acknowledge that people come with a religious history that influences their understanding of their own and other religious traditions.
We acknowledge that religious identity has a dynamic character, and that it changes and develops over time.
We acknowledge that the boundaries between religious identities are not necessarily rigid, but can have a fluid character, drawing on multiple sources of inspiration.

The respect for others

We always ensure continuous consent in engaging with others.
We accept and appreciate each other’s beliefs, but refrain from imposing them on others.
Our work is driven by common practice, despite potential religious and non-religious differences.


Place for religion

We acknowledge the difficulties of defining what religion is. Nonetheless, we believe that religious dimensions are an important aspect in the work with people on the move.
Thus, we provide spaces for religion within the network, in terms of discussions, motivations, and practices.
We also acknowledge and try to address inherent tensions between and within religious traditions, as well as between the religious and the secular dimensions.

The challenges of faith-based work

We acknowledge that there are barriers to engaging with faith-based organizations such as stereotypes, prejudices, as well as controversies concerning past and present practices and mistakes.
We acknowledge and address issues within our own communities.
We ensure gender inclusivity, child protection, and safeguards against abuse of power.

The opportunities of faith-based work

We engage in advocacy that highlights the positive character of religious and faith-based work, its benefits, and its resources.
We engage in building bridges between the faith-based and secular stakeholders.
We acknowledge that faith is an important aspect for many people on the move and utilize the faith resources of the network to provide them with places of understanding.

Brave Spaces

We strive to create inclusive, brave spaces where everyone can participate actively and equitably in conversations about issues characterised by diverse and often contradictory intragroup convictions, beliefs, experiences and opinions.

Through conversations in a brave space, we can:

  • 1. Gain new insights into each other’s convictions, beliefs and experiences.
  • 2. Develop a deeper understanding of ourselves and each other.
  • 3. Challenge the biases, prejudices and stereotypes we hold.
  • 4. Care for each other.
  • 5. Build trust.
  • 6. Create new opportunities for developing, repairing and deepening relationships.


No matter what happens in the brave space we remember to show love and compassion for each other.

Controversy with Care

We use open and honest dialogue to gain a better understanding of each other’s experiences, convictions and values.
We accept that we have varying and sometimes opposing opinions and acknowledge that controversy is often a significant part of talking through complex issues.
During these conversations we strive to maintain dignity and respect and we assume that other participants are striving to uphold that as well.

Owning Intentions and Impacts

We promise not to hurt each other
We recognise that we must hold ourselves responsible for how our words and actions affect others even if that impact was unintentional.
We recognise the importance of carefully reacting to and addressing instances where a conversation has negatively affected the emotional wellbeing of people we work with.

Challenge by Choice

We are willing to challenge ourselves and each other.
We are willing to step out of our comfort zone and into the less known and potentially uncomfortable place where opposing opinions are actively listened to and reflected upon.
While we value inclusivity, we also acknowledge that we all have the freedom to step in and out of challenging conversations. If someone does not want to participate in a conversation, we respect their decision.


No matter whether we agree with a person’s ideas or opinions we respect them for who they are and what they bring to the conversation.
We also show respect by listening actively to each other, being curious, asking clarifying questions and adhering to agreed rules about confidentiality.
We are aware of our internal dialogue and we try out best to be
non-judgmental when deriving meaning from what others are saying.

No Attacks

We will not tolerate shouting, insulting- or threatening behaviour and microaggression.
We recognise that we might feel hurt while participating in conversations in the brave space and we are willing to show our vulnerability.
If anyone is getting hurt, we speak out for each other.

Based on: Arao, Brian and Clemens, Kristi (2013): From Safe Spaces to Brave Chapter 8 in their book The Art of Effective Facilitation: Reflections From Social Justice Educators.

Gender equality

We strive to be an inclusive network where practitioners are represented from different faiths, cultural backgrounds and gender. We work towards equal representation of genders in our selection of practitioners, in our Board, Advisory Board, in the Home Groups (temporary random mix of practitioners meeting up in smaller groups) and in the Learning and Exchange program.

Almost all of our limited resources are dedicated to staff. We are always aware when it comes to paid staff, that we have fair gender equality ensured. The Board, being responsible for dedicated resources, makes sure that new staff members, Board members (unpaid) and Advisory Board (unpaid) reflects gender equality.


gender equality goals

  • The A World of Neighbours network aims to have a ratio of at 50 percent female network practitioners.
  • AWoN Network practitioners are focused on gender-just participatory and context-specific approaches to gain community trust and promote the equitable participation of women and men through culturally sensitive programs, in ways appropriate to the three faiths, and in line with the organizational commitments of their partners, for example HIAS, Church of Sweden).
  • The researchers of A World of Neighbours and the Learning & Exchange program will offer space for discussion around gender justice, recognizing and responding to gender inequities and advocating for positive change from a faith-literate and culture-sensitive perspective.
  • Women in a leadership role in the partner organizations and the faith-based networks and communities associated with them may offer a positive example and role model for activists, leaders, and community members from groups where women have restricted opportunities.
  • Monitoring activities will use gender assessment and gender-specific indicators. Project data will be collected and analyzed on a sex/gender disaggregated basis
  • Communication activities will use gender-sensitive language and a non-stereotypical representation of genders – in line with EIGE guidelines on gender-sensitive communication. The same will be applied to diversity mainstreaming and with respect to narratives on or about migrants/migration.
  • Staff and work teams comprise at present 50 percent women. The recruitment, selection and hiring of the remaining AWoN staff members will be guided by gender equality principles.
  • At least 50 percent of AWoN members will be women. Budget allocations in the coalition activities will equally benefit the different needs and priorities of men and women, boys and girls.
  • AWoN Foundation fully embraces the equality and non-discrimination principles expressed in Article 2 of the Treaty on the European Union and Article 21 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.