Working for workplace religious diversity, equity & inclusion


2018 Global Religious Freedom & Business Film Competition

Gold Grand Prize: Love Has No Borders

Love Has No Borders by Deborah Paul and Christy Anastas won the Religious Freedom & Business Film Competition Gold Grand Prize.* The short film shows two women from different backgrounds joining together to build a business to serve those in need.

Deborah and Christy met in the autumn of 2014 and the result of that friendship has dramatically changed their lives. Christy started working with i61 Clothing and saw the power behind combining words, with actions, something she feels passionate about. Christy also moved into film-making. She has a desire to use it as an opportunity for others to share their experience and tell their stories. She also sees it as a tool for bringing people together from “both sides”.

Silver First Runner Up: Global FC

Global FC by Mariya Dostzadah Goodbrake won the Religious Freedom & Business Film Competition Silver Medal.* The film shows that Global FC strengthens Kansas City by using their business to serve the religiously mixed refugee community with a soccer program.

A native from Afghanistan, Mariya was raised in Iran and India, immigrated to Canada with her family, and later to America in 2012. She studied at the University of Toronto in Ontario, Canada in Political Science and International Relations. She is fluent in English, Dari and Farsi.



The Religious Freedom & Business Foundation (RFBF) and The Middle East Women’s Leadership Network (MEWLN) launched the Religious Freedom & Business Film Competition in 2017 to highlight women media producers and support freedom of belief. The goal of the competition was to create short films that showcase how religious freedom leads to innovation, peace, entrepreneurship and human flourishing in communities. The winning films were screened before world-class CEOs and UN level leaders, including former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, at the 2018 Global Business & Peace Awards and Symposium in Seoul, South Korea, March 7-8, 2018.

The grand prize winner of the competition received $5,000 and a trip to present her work at the Peace Awards ceremony. Additionally, the wining films will be shared with religious freedom networks, NGOs, government and faith based organizations around the world.

The three-minute films are artful and compelling explorations of the impact of religious freedom (or the lack of it) in the workplace and community. Whether inspired by real-life events or fictional, the films thoughtfully affirm that cultural diversity and religious freedom are good for business and civil society.

The winning and finalist films include:

$5000 GOLD GRAND PRIZE: Love Has No Borders (by Christy Anastas and Deborah Paul)

SILVER FIRST RUNNER UP: Global FC (by Mariya Dostzadah Goodbrake)

SECOND RUNNER UP: Equations (by Nancy Sawyer Schraeder and Naji Hendrix)

THIRD RUNNER UP: Clarkston (by Erin Berhardt)

FINALIST: Paper Dresses (by Lizzie Chaplin)

* * * For more information about the short films and female media producers, contact the MEWLN Director, Shirin Taber at

In our age of media, we must engage women as media advocates, believing visual narratives will encourage indigenous leaders in countries experiencing religious conflict to advance human dignity and the freedom of conscience for everyone. Women can create short videos that advance the legal principal of freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief for every person without distinction.


SECOND RUNNER UP: Equations (by Nancy Sawyer Schraeder and Naji Hendrix)

Equations shows that when a company discriminates on the basis of religion or belief they might just miss the most perfect employee for the company.

THIRD RUNNER UP: Clarkston (by Erin Berhardt)

The Clarkston Community Health Center operates with a multicultural and interfaith volunteer base as they strive towards their goal of providing healthcare for all.

FINALIST: Paper Dresses (by Lizzie Chaplin)

A young fashion designer facing cultural barriers receives help from an unexpected source to realize her business dreams.

ENTRY: What is your story? (by Dalia Al Mokdad)

“Shu Ostak” (What is your story?), by Dalia Al Mokdad, is a short film based on a true story of two young women from Lebanon who did a unique initiative which aims to counter violent extremism by promoting the story of two young female heroes walking against the current in their society, and offering a living example of counter extremism and fanaticism through freedom of religion and belief.


Denials of religious freedom are associated with poorer economic performance and lower global competitiveness, according to a study by researchers at Georgetown University and Brigham Young University. And other studies show that religious freedom promotes peace, which is particularly important for business because where stability exists, there is more opportunity to invest and conduct normal and predictable business operations, especially in emerging and new markets.

Strategically, these films help to show that a commitment to religious freedom and interfaith understanding is a means to fulfilling the UN Strategic Development Goal 16: “Promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, providing access to justice for all and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.” 

The most successful businesses encourage an environment in which employees can bring their “full self” to work – religion and all. Employees need to feel comfortable being who they are in the workplace, including being true to their core identity and beliefs. That includes recognizing and respecting an employee’s religion and its practice. In today’s increasingly more competitive business environment, companies will need to draw upon the talent and experience of every employee. They can’t afford to leave anyone out. If they exclude or alienate someone for reasons having nothing to do with a person’s ability to do the job, they might also be excluding the next great business solution or the next great product idea.