The Ismaili Council for France held an institutional dinner attended by Meredith Preston McGhie, Secretary General of the Global Centre for Pluralism (GCP) on 10 November, ahead of the upcoming Paris Peace Forum. 

In keeping with GCP’s mandate, Secretary General McGhie discussed some of the challenges that the world faces today, and her vision of how pluralism might help overcome these challenges.

Addressing an audience of Jamati leaders and youth, Ms McGhie offered insights into her own life journey and personal contribution to peacebuilding processes. In a world that is becoming more divided by nationalistic forces and grappling with emerging global challenges such as climate change and exponential increases in population migration, Secretary General McGhie made the case that pluralism is not only a desirable tool for dialogue and peace, but also a necessary mindset to building a peaceful future.

“Pluralism is a really big idea and it needs to have practical roots,” she said.

“We need to be able to say: what does that mean in my daily life? What does this mean if I am a teacher, if I am a peacemaker, if I am a government administrator or if I am a mayor of a small town. What does this mean in my day to day life?”

Pluralism also requires empathy, Ms McGhie suggested, which is developed by practicing at local, community, and national levels, something the GCP strives to stimulate by catalysing and promoting exemplary initiatives.

Secretary General McGhie also highlighted how the Global Pluralism Award fits into the overall vision of the GCP by recognising inclusivity in practice and rewarding outstanding contributions to pluralism and peace.

Attendees at the dinner benefitted from an insight into the mandate of the GCP. President Shamir Samdjee of the Ismaili Council for France said, “listening to Meredith’s inspiring talk has allowed us to gain a deeper understanding of the essential role that the Global Centre for Pluralism is playing in the promotion of pluralism and peace worldwide… it has truly been a remarkable evening.”

A number of students and young professionals were also in attendance, and were offered the opportunity to pose questions. Elisa Piaraly, a student at the dinner remarked, “the event has allowed me to better grasp what pluralism really means, and how it relates to my day-to-day life as a student in France. It has also enabled me to put things in perspective and to better understand the role of empathy in pluralism.”