Culturally Sensitive Approaches

Lessons from the Field


Giving Reproductive Health a Place in the Dharma

The revitalization of Buddhism in Cambodia provides multiple opportunities to support reproductive health and rights, including HIV prevention, in impoverished communities still struggling with the traumas of the recent past. This case study, along with that of Malawi, explores potential areas of action that could be undertaken by UNFPA and its partners through work with religious and traditional leaders.

WHAT COULD WORK? Lessons from Cambodia

  • Providing increased support to Buddhist nuns and monks could enhance the service role they increasingly seek in their communities, especially in the areas of public education and social development.

  • Gender perspectives could be effectively integrated into Buddhist teachings, such as the Five Precepts (which urge all Cambodian Buddhists to be faithful to their husbands and wives and to refrain from sexual harassment, telling lies and cheating, drugs and alcohol, gambling and stealing). Additionally, by emphasizing the merits earned through non-violence, nuns and monks could play a role in preventing gender-based violence.

  • Buddhist nuns could be involved in efforts to reach out to adolescent girls and women on issues related to reproductive health, trafficking, the commercial sex trade and HIV/AIDS. The role of nuns in the Buddhist sangha (monastic order) could also be strengthened.

Read the full case study