Leena Manimekalai joins lineup of speakers at the World Humanist Congress

  • post Type / Conferences
  • Date / 27 February 2023

Award-winning film maker, Leena Manimekalai, is the latest speaker to join the line up at the congress, which will take place in Copenhagen, Denmark from Friday 4 August 2023 to Sunday 6 August 2023.

Leena Manimekalai is an atheist, a published poet and an award-winning filmmaker. Her work promotes human rights, particularly those of marginalized people, such as the Dalit or LGBTI+ community. Her fifteen narrative documentaries have covered such topics as caste, gender, globalization, art therapy, student politics, eco-feminism, indigenous rights and LGBTI+ rights. She is currently facing threats and judicial harassment after being accused of ‘hurting religious sentiments’ in connection with her depiction of the goddess Kali in her documentary short film.

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You can find out more and book your place for the 2023 World Humanist Congress through the dedicated congress website (opens in a new window). If you have any queries, please email: [email protected]

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What is the World Humanist Congress?

The World Humanist Congress is the largest gathering of humanists from around the globe. The 2023 congress is being organized on behalf of Humanists International by the following five Nordic humanist organizations: Danish Humanist Society (Humanistisk Samfund), Norwegian Humanist Association (Human-Etisk Forbund), Humanists Sweden (Humanisterna), Humanists Iceland (Siðmennt) and the Union of Freethinkers, Finland (Vapaa ajattelijat).

The theme of the 2023 congress is “Building Better Democracies Through Humanist Values”. Democracy is threatened on many fronts in the world today. We will examine some of the threats but first and foremost we will focus on how humanist values and practices can contribute to building and supporting strong and well-functioning democracies. You can read more about the theme of the congress here.

Who will be speaking?

  • Sandi Toksvig, Danish-British women’s rights and LGBTQ+ activist, and prominent writer, comedian and broadcaster on British radio, stage and television, known from QI and The Great British Bake Off.
  • Nazila Ghanea, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion and belief and Associate Professor in International Human Rights Law at the University of Oxford and Fellow of Kellogg College.
  • Abid Raja, Chair of the steering group of The International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief (IPPFoRB). Member of the Norwegian Parliament and former minister of Culture and Equality.
  • Thorbjørn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe 2009-2019, former Prime Minister of Norway, President of the Norwegian parliament, and chair of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee.
  • Lars-Fr. H. Svendsen, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Bergen, Norway, whose books are translated into 30 languages. In 2022 he received the prestigious German Philosophical Book Award for A Philosophy of Loneliness.
  • Hulda Thorisdottir, Associate Professor in the Psychology and Political Science Departments at the University of Iceland. Political psychologist who studies conspiracy theories.
  • Sofia Näsström, professor political science Uppsala universitet, Sweden. Author of “The Spirit of Democracy: Corruption, Disintegration, Renewal” (Oxford University Press 2021)
  • Leena Manimekalai, award-winning film maker and published poet. Her fifteen narrative documentaries have covered such topics as caste, gender, globalization, art therapy, student politics, eco-feminism, indigenous rights and LGBTI+ rights.

There will be a long list of other speakers and panelists from within and outside of the humanist movement, including Andrew Copson, Elizabeth O’Casey, Trond Enger, Lois Lee, Atko Remmel, Babu Gogineni, Vikas Gora, and many others, waiting to be confirmed. For the latest list of speakers and program updates, visit the congress website here.

Program at a glance:

  • 31 July, Monday to 3 August, Thursday: Social activities in Copenhagen and at our community house. Read more about the social program here.
  • 3 August, Thursday: Optional European Humanist Professionals workshops: Ceremonies, education, chaplaincy (separate registration at a later date)
  • 3 August, Thursday: Humanists International General Assembly (for appointed delegates only – separate registration required)
  • 4 August, Friday: Congress opening. Plenary sessions and two six-part breakout sessions on different topics.
  • 5 August, Saturday: Congress continues with plenaries and two six-part breakout sessions on different topics. In the evening: Congress dinner and awards.
  • 6 August, Sunday: Congress closes with three plenary sessions.
  • 6 August, Sunday: Humanists International General Assembly part 2 from 14:00. (for appointed delegates only – separate registration required)

Check out all recent developments to the program on our website: WHC2023.com

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