Engaging Faith Leaders and Communities

Many communities and individuals around the world have a dominant faith group or numerous religions. Many of these groups have strong messages about sex and sexuality and therefore are important stakeholders in the provision of CSE.

Tips for engaging faith communities effectively include:

  • Determine whether faith-based organizations are working on CSE or sexual health issues, and what useful materials they may have already that integrate a faith perspective.

  • Clarify what your expectations are from any engagement with religious leaders. What would you like them to do differently? For example, what could they do to facilitate a more open dialogue on the reality of young people’s lives, or put CSE on their agenda?

  • Engage with religious leaders from the start to encourage meaningful investment and help identify potential barriers early on. Make the most of religious networks and how you can most effectively engage with their learning opportunities.

  • Engage with religious schools and universities as an entry point for engaging with youth around the issue of faith and religion and their intersections with CSE.

  • Bring members of different faith groups together for an inter-faith dialogue relating to CSE. Use this as a chance to explore what you share in common in terms of values and where there are differences across the different faiths on issues of sexuality.

  • Strengthen referral mechanisms with faith-based health service providers. In many parts of the world, faith organizations provide a very large percentage of the health care as well as education provision. An increasing number of faith-based organizations acknowledge the need for developing partnerships and alliances with other faith and secular organizations. Sharing best practices and advocating together for better health care for young people are important elements of these partnerships.

(Source: IPPF, 2010 – ‘Voices of Hope: A Guide to Inspire Dialogues on Religion, Faith, Sexuality and Young People)