"People are of two kinds, either your brother in faith or your counterpart in humanity."
(Imam Ali, as)
The World Federation of KSIMC has been serving the Muslim community across the world for over 30 years now. The Khoja Shia Ithna-Asheri Muslim Communities consists of about 125,000 community members worldwide, mainly Pakistan , India , Africa, Europe, the Middle East and North America.
The key aim of The World Federation is to spread Islamic knowledge and to uplift the Khoja Shia community, the shia community and humanity at large. Specifically, in terms of poverty, the aim is to bring about self sufficiency within the developing world, by providing access to healthcare and education for all.
In August 2007, The World Federation was accredited Special Consultative Status as a Non-Governmental Organisation (NG0) with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations. This was a great milestone in the history of our Community, but alongside this achievement, the NGO status brings with it a great number of opportunities, that we must take hold of.
The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) is one of the six branches of the United Nations. The ECOSOC Committee on NGOs is the sub-branch responsible for issuing the “Special Consultative Status”. The main areas of concern for ECOSOC are sustainable development, social development, status of women, population and development and human rights. All of these concerns are in alignment with those of The World Federation.
Given that NGOs play an essential role in interactions between civil society and government, the United Nations maintains close relations with thousands of NGOs across the world. An NGO is an officially recognized organization that represents a group interest and partners with national and international associations to achieve its goals. With the advent of globalization, NGOs are playing an increasingly more important role in developing policies that are changing the world today. All organizations that act in the same spirit of cooperation and unity as the United Nations, regardless of size or influence, have a right to participate in international developments through the UN.
The United Nations and The World Federation share several interests in the area of economic and social development. Although there are many ways in which these two organizations can work together, The World Federation determined that an optimal working relationship could best be achieved by successfully acquiring a ‘Special Consultative Status” with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations. This new accreditation means that The World Federation:
In order to maximise the benefit of the NGO status, The World Federation is going through a four stage process:
Stage 1: Developing the Secretariat to optimize its functionality
Stage 2: Creating networks with other NGOs, global bodies and UN agencies
Stage 3: Influence other NGOs, UN bodies and governments on strategic policy thinking and funding
Stage 4: Seeking external funding opportunities
Whilst The World Federation will need to take the time to develop through all of the four phases, the most critical phase is the first one: developing the Secretariat to optimize its functionality. Already, work has been done in increasing reporting frameworks for programmes, furthering transparency. Initiatives are underway to build internal capacity by learning techniques such as impact assessment and outcome mapping so that the Secretariat can further enhance the way that it works.
In its effort to create networks with other NGOs, global bodies and UN agencies, The World Federation joined BOND (British Overseas NGOs for Development) in February 2008. As a recognised member of BOND, we can now begin to work alongside over 300 NGO members in the area of international development.
Stage 3 and 4
The last two stages are the heartbeat of our four-stage process, and The World Federation is working hard to develop these segments which will allow us to make the best use of our NGO status. Whilst this work in its beginning stages, it will take time to develop. For instance, the funding opportunities will involve writing proposal grants and completing forms correctly, and influencing other NGOs, UN Bodies and governments will require a strong framework and upright reputation, externally. In addition, The World Federation must work to advocate the Shia Ithna Asheri principles to the UN, government agencies and other NGOs and strive to help fellow Momineen who are in need of help.
The World Federation’s Special Consultative Status with the United Nations will undoubtedly have an affect on its five newly created departments. In addition to their core responsibilities, these departments must make every effort to develop and maintain a sustainable effective partnership with the United Nations. This is important if The World Federation wants to achieve its goals and objectives as a “special consultant” to the United Nations. Elements that constitute an effective partnership include:
a) Education – The United Nations is a strong advocate for education. By empowering individuals and communities with knowledge and skills, we can help them to become self-reliant over time. The Zainabiyya Child Sponsorship Scheme is one of The World Federation’s great successes with respect to education. It is our hope that this and other educational initiatives can be developed and/or strengthened with this new partnership with the United Nations.
b) Tableegh – Imam Jaffer Sadiq (as) has said: “Be the inviters and callers of people towards beneficence without (using) your tongues, so that they may observe your endeavors and efforts and truth and piety.” With all the attention Islam is receiving in the media today, much of it is having a negative impact on both Islam and Muslims across the world. Propaganda can lead to ineffective policies made by Member States at the United Nations. As consultants to the UN, The World Federation through the guidance of our Marja e Taqleed, our actions and counsel, will be in a stronger position to set right the misinformation relayed by local and world media agencies.
c) Family Affairs – The United Nations is very much concerned about the welfare of families including women, children and seniors. With guidance from the Family Affairs Departments of The World Federation, we can work with the United Nations to raise awareness of some of the pressing challenges faced by Muslim families, women, children and seniors in some parts of the world today. For instance, violence against women is one of the most widespread violations of human rights — one in three women will suffer some form of violence in her lifetime. UNIFEM, the United Nation’s Development Fund for Women, works in support of women’s empowerment and gender equality. The World Federation can work with this and other similar agencies to address the needs of families and its members.
d) Health – The World Federation has had a history in health care, most notable through the Medical Advisory Board. The Health work includes mainly the disadvantaged, vulnerable and the Hujjaj. In addition, we have provided aid to health care professionals and sister organizations and have promoted health education across the world. With many years of experience, the new consultative status will allow The World Federation to further develop its medical initiatives (such as the newly built Autistic Centre in Dar-es- Salaam , Tanzania) by working with UN agencies such as WHO (World Health Organization). WHO carries out its work with the support and cooperation of many partners, including NGOs like The World Federation.
e) Relief & Economic Development - Humanitarian issues, developmental aid and sustainable development are matters of great concern to the Relief and Economic Development Department of The World Federation as well as the United Nations. The World Federation has always stood on the front line supporting individuals and communities hit by natural and man-made disasters. In events like these, information, resources and time are critical aid factors. With closer ties to the United Nations, our Relief and Economic Development Team can better assist the affected regions.
By the Grace of the Almighty and the steadfast vision of Mulla Asgharali M.M Jaffer and the overwhelming support of our communities across the world, The World Federation has developed into a responsible, well-established non-governmental organization whose values reflect the excellent teachings of the Ahlul Bayt and who’s goals and objectives are governed solely by the ethos of Islam to address the various needs of our communities worldwide.
The NGO status in conclusion is a huge milestone forward, but in our goal of preparing for the return of the 12th Imam (A.S.) a great deal of work will need to be done to maximise this opportunity.
May the Almighty guide us in our efforts to serve Him for His pleasure only. Ameen.
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