Last week our junior consultant Isabelle Snijders attended the EU-Bahrain conference ‘Freedom of Religion and Belief’ in Bahrain. Together with delegates from EU countries and representatives from all over the world, Isabelle spoke about the importance on freedom of religion and belief and the influence of various themes on this fundamental right and vice versa. We think it is important that our employees are able to pursue other passions besides their work. When Isabelle asked us if she could get a week off to attend this conference, we fully encouraged this opportunity. Now that Isabelle is back, we asked her to share something about her vision and the experiences in Bahrain:
“Mutual respect, inclusion, and the willingness to listen to each other are core values to me. The freedom to believe or not to believe is therefore of great importance to me.
In addition to the importance of religious freedom for the individual, this conference was also about establishing a relationship between global themes, such as climate change and cyberspace and their influence on freedom of religion and vice versa. An interesting approach that does not primarily focus on the importance of this fundamental right for the individual but for society as a whole. In this light I spoke about the influence of freedom of religion on trade and therefore the economic growth of a country, with other participants during the conference.
Given my work and ambitions, the connection between trade and freedom of religion, of which I found a suitable research, was interesting to me. Among other things, this research finds that social openness, human development, and religious tolerance can accelerate the economic growth of a country. A conclusion that confirms the importance of religious freedom for not only the individual but also for the trade and prosperity of society.
I found it special, in this day and age, with opinions getting tougher, to speak so openly about this polarizing subject in a country with a completely different culture with people of different nationalities, without it influencing the atmosphere. In fact, I experienced the atmosphere during the conference as very inspiring and respectful. Refreshing!
A lot of networking and fascinating conversations later, I am back in the Netherlands to pick up my work at GRC and my study. I am grateful that I had this opportunity and look back on my week in Bahrain with enthusiasm.”