News

African Religious Leaders Urge Partnership with UN to Tackle Gender-Based Violence

6 December 2007
Author: UNFPA

DURBAN, South Africa – Some 60 religious leaders from 18 African countries stressed the need for members of faith-based organizations (FBOs) to partner with the United Nations at all levels to advocate for policy change and resource mobilization for the prevention of HIV and gender-based violence.

At the end of a two-day regional forum organized by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, and the World Conference of Religions for Peace-South Africa, a series of wide-ranging recommendations for strengthening partnerships were adopted.

Throughout the meeting, participants emphasized the importance of real partnerships and the need to avoid the tokenism.

They agreed that their work in preventing HIV and gender-based violence will have more impact if they work deliberately and inclusively with each other and with the United Nations in seeking holistic approaches to these challenges.

The participants, who included diverse religious leaders and UN experts working on HIV and AIDS, stressed that FBOs should pay attention both to addressing women’s needs and enhancing their capacities.

FBOs should also “actively target the inclusion of men and encourage them to share their own experiences of HIV infection and gender-based violence. The attitude and approach that sees men as obstacles should be transformed into one that includes them as partners,” participants said.

Earlier, in a message to the forum, UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid spoke of the Fund’s wide-ranging efforts in identifying, engaging and mobilizing faith-based communities as well as religious and traditional leaders to prevent HIV and treat AIDS, encourage safe motherhood and preserve the dignity of men and women.

She urged participants to identify, share and replicate cases of successes in tackling HIV and gender-based violence.

The forum was the first in a series of regional meetings that will culminate in the first-ever UNFPA-convened Global Forum on Faith-based Partnerships for Population and Development in October 2008. 

-- George Ngwa

South Africa
Population : 58.1 mil
Fertility rate
2.4
Maternal Mortality Ratio
138
Contraceptives prevalence rate
57
Population aged 10-24
27%
Youth secondary school enrollment
Boys 86%
Girls 84%