The United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) will today commence a five-day workshop with faith-based organizations in Africa to promoting gender equality and maternal health.
The workshop, which takes place at the Taia Resort in Freetown, will bring together over 100 participants from 35 African countries.
The objective of the workshop is to use knowledge acquired from shared experiences, best practices and lessons learned to develop the UNFPA framework that would assist the organization to scale up its support programs that focus on working with FBOs for the promotion of gender equality and maternal health. UNFPA country representative, Mrs. Rati Ndlovu told journalists at the organization's office that the need to forge a strong partnership with FBOs was very crucial for development.
She said UNFPA was aware that promoting women's empowerment requires a broad based ownership and the engagement of all segments of civil society, adding, "Faith based organizations have the legitimacy and moral ground to bring issues that are sensitive to the public."
"FBOs have been very close partners in our efforts to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, encourage safe motherhood and uphold the dignity of women and men. Many UN member states are now calling for the engagement of FBOs in socio-economic development processes," she added.
Mrs. Ndlovu further noted that there was a great opportunity and responsibility to strengthen and expand UN partnership with FBOs. "Joint efforts to seek closer cooperation with FBOs and religious leaders that believe in the development of people and the attainment of social justice hold the potential of much success," she noted.
UNFPA's regional technical advisor on gender, Miriam Jato, said the workshop is to help strengthen the partnership with FBOs across the African continent. It is no doubt that faith based organizations play critical roles in the lives of Africans and in the social, health and cultural development of individuals, families, communities and countries. They have networks that reach most audiences, including difficult to reach populations.