Many Faiths, Different Contexts

This publication is an effort to capture some of the aspects of the work of UNFPA’s partnerships with inter-faith groups and religious leaders.

The extent to which religion often serves as a critical broker of human and even government existence is one of the many changes in the development landscape which is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore, especially for secular development organisations.

Faith-based organisations (FBOs), religious leaders and religious institutions often function as gatekeepers to the communities they serve, seen as a community’s custodians of culture. Partnering with FBOs and religious leaders can encourage communities to explore how human rights and gender issues contribute to the well-being of women, men, young people and families. Given the sensitivity surrounding some of the universally recognised rights in the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Programme, a culturally sensitive approach around these rights is imperative to help reduce infant, child and maternal mortality, and to increase access to reproductive health services, including family planning. The language around maternal health can often be contentious to religious leaders, and efforts need to be undertaken so that it is understood in terms of birth spacing and planning rather than as a form of restriction.