Working with Religious Leaders, Families and Communities to Improve Maternal Health and End Gender-based Violence

1 September 2009
Author: UNFPA

MINSK, Belarus — Fifty religious leaders and representatives of faith-based organizations (FBOs) from Europe and Central Asia gathering here this week were confronted with the grim fact that every minute, one woman dies giving birth and 20 more suffer injury, infection or disease, despite the fact that 80 per cent of all maternal deaths are preventable. They also concluded that regardless of almost universal antenatal care coverage and the high percentage of deliveries attended by skilled health personnel in many countries of the region, progress towards reducing maternal deaths has been very slow.

The meeting, hosted by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, aimed to identify good examples and share information and lessons learned to end gender-based violence and advance maternal health.

Emphasizing the importance of partnering with faith-based organizations, Thea Fierens, UNFPA Regional Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, said: “Partnerships are not a one-way direction, partnerships work in two directions. We gain strength from partnerships when we really realize them and act accordingly. We can learn a lot from one another, by sharing knowledge and experience.”

The meeting’s participants committed to establishing connections among faith, modern medicine and community education. They also emphasized that the role of religious leaders in preventing violence within families, and mobilizing communities to use available health services, cannot be ignored, as many people seek religious leaders — and not only medical experts — for advice on social, medical and psychological issues.

Summarizing discussions of day two of the three-day meeting, Cosmin Grigorescu, Executive Director of Filantropia Federation, said: “We, as FBOs, should use our moral authority and our strength to improve the family environment and the community environment. By doing so, issues regarding contraception, population decrease and family planning - and all those things we do not yet have agreement on - could be resolved. It’s not simple on one hand, but it’s simple on the other. It’s working more with families, individuals and communities.”

Contact Information

Ms. Raquel Wexler
UNFPA Regional Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia
Tel. 1+212 297 507

Ms. Olga Belorusova
UNFPA Belarus Office
Tel. +375 29 178 6700 / +375 17 227 4527


Related content


This Technical Brief summarizes the previous Compendium on social norm change to achieve gender equality, which provides a framework for programmatic approaches to norm change at scale. The Technical Brief and Compendium present promising strategies, tested approaches and...

Women learn about their rights and gender equality at a knowledge centre in Malito village, Shinyanga, Tanzania. @ UNFPA Tanzania/Karlien Truyens
Though its doors opened less than six months ago, a knowledge centre in the village of Malito in Msalala District, Shinyanga Region, is already changing lives.
The Gender Equality Strategy 2018–2021 was developed to complement the UNFPA Strategic Plan and guide operationalization of the gender and rights-related aspects of its results and resources framework.


We use cookies and other identifiers to help improve your online experience. By using our website you agree to this. To learn more, including how to change your settings, see our cookies policy.