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Webinar Reading Time: 4 minutes

Recap of “Connecting Conversation” Series: Preachers

How Preachers are Key to Improving Adolescent Reproductive Health

In need of tips and tricks for improving your faith-based adolescent reproductive health work? Check out this summary of FP2020 and Knowledge SUCCESS’ recent conversation with experts on this topic!

“Right from the beginning you need to make sure that religious leaders and faith-based institutions are walking hand-in-hand with adolescents.” — Ms. Jackie Katana, Faith for Family Health Initiative, Uganda

On November 18, Knowledge SUCCESS & FP2020 hosted the second session in the second module of the Connecting Conversations series, Parents, Preachers, Partners, and Phones: Engaging Critical Influencers in Improving Young People’s Reproductive Health. During this session, Jackie Katana, Executive Chairperson and Founding Director of the Faith for Family Health Initiative in Uganda, Prabu Deepan Head of Tearfund’s global Thematic Support Team, based in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and Fatou Diop, the Youth Focal point for the Ouagadougou and FP2020 partnership in Senegal discussed faith-based reproductive health programming for youth.

Missed this session? Read the summary below or access the recordings.

From left, clockwise: Moderator, Kate Plourde, Speakers: Prabu Deepan, Fatou Diop, and Jackie Katana.
From left, clockwise: Moderator, Kate Plourde, Speakers: Prabu Deepan, Fatou Diop, and Jackie Katana.

What are the key pillars of faith-based adolescent and youth Reproductive health (AYRH) Programming?

Watch now: 11:24

The session began with speakers defining faith-based programming and why it is a key strategy for improving adolescent and youth reproductive health. They highlighted the influential role that faith and faith communities play in shaping many young people’s lives and emphasized that reproductive health programs and faith-based organizations (FBOs) share similar goals of supporting young people’s well-being. Ms. Katana described what she saw as the five key pillars of faith-based youth reproductive health programming as:

  1. Programs are hinged on religious and faith structures
  2. Programs are implemented in collaboration with faith and religious leaders
  3. Programs are built around and respect values, beliefs, and principles of faith
  4. Programs engage with and apply scriptures and religious readings
  5. Programs apply scientific approaches in-line with the four pillars listed above

Why are faith leaders key partners in reproductive health programs?

Watch now: 23:33

Mr. Deepan echoed the importance of emphasizing the principles of faith, and their alignment with reproductive health, as faith leaders are often concerned with holistic well-being development of humanity. A further discussion about why it is important to engage religious leaders and other faith-based organizations or networks to improve adolescent reproductive health outcomes followed. All speakers described the influential role of religion within the communities where they work and live. Mr. Deepan went on to describe faith leaders as an important reference group influencing young people’s values and beliefs. The speakers agreed that faith leaders are an “important partner” in adolescent reproductive health and emphasized the need to deliberately engage them to achieve reproductive health goals. Ms. Diop underscored this point.

“It is clear that if we want a program to succeed today, we must work with the religious leaders.” –Ms. Fatou Diop

What are the key strategies to engage faith leaders in AYRH?

Watch now: 25:00

The speakers shared their experiences implementing faith-based approaches and discussed successful strategies for engaging religious leaders and FBOs in adolescent reproductive health. The key strategies recommended by the speakers included:

  1. Engaging religious leaders early and often to articulate common goals and co-create program agendas
  2. Building capacity and campions among faith-leaders
  3. Utilizing an interfaith approach
  4. Ensuring meaningful adolescent participation and partnership with faith-leaders
  5. Leveraging social media platforms such as Facebook live
  6. Engaging with scriptures
  7. Grounding work in evidence-based approaches

Ms. Katana stressed the importance of youth participation and their partnership with faith leaders.

“Right from the beginning you need to make sure that religious leaders and faith-based institutions are walking hand-in-hand with adolescents” — Ms. Jackie Katana

How are faith leaders addressing harmful social norms?

Watch now: 32:31

Mr. Deepan shared the example of Tearfund’s Transforming Masculinities project in DRC and Nigeria. Transforming Masculinities is a faith-based approach to preventing gender-based violence (GBV) and promoting gender equality through addressing harmful concepts of gender. He discussed the powerful role that messages delivered by faith leaders can have in influencing social norms. He said,

“Faith communities have [a] captive audience and most of their work is beyond just the four walls of their mosques or churches or temples…their reach is wide and they are able to role model and diffuse messages in a way that is [supportive of] adolescent reproductive health or against adolescent reproductive health.” — Mr. Prabu Deepan

What are the most important lessons learned to engage faith leaders in AYRH?

Watch now: 55:18

Speakers went on to provide additional examples of their work and closed the session by sharing their most important lessons from years of implementing faith-based approaches to adolescent reproductive health: involve faith leaders early and often, start with commonalities, seek consensus, build capacity, collaborate and coordinate.

Missed the first session in our second module? You can watch the recordings (available in English and French).

About “Connecting Conversations”

Connecting Conversations” is a series of discussions on adolescent and youth reproductive health—hosted by FP2020 and Knowledge SUCCESS. Over the next year, we will be co-hosting these sessions every two weeks or so on a variety of topics. We’re using a more conversational style, encouraging open dialogue and allowing plenty of time for questions. We guarantee you will be coming back for more!

Want to Get Caught Up on Module One and Two?

Our first module, which started on July 15 and ran through September 9, focused on a foundational understanding of adolescent development and health. Presenters—including experts from organizations such as the World Health Organization, Johns Hopkins University, and Georgetown University—offered a framework for understanding adolescent and youth reproductive health, and implementing stronger programs with and for young people.

Our second module, Parents, Preachers, Partners, Phones: Engaging Critical Influencers to Improve Young People’s Reproductive Health, began on November 4 and concluded on December 16. Speakers included experts from Love Matters Naija, Hidden Pockets Collective India, Pathfinder International, and Tearfund United Kingdom. Discussions explored key learnings on engaging parents, religious leaders and communities, partners, and digital approaches to improve young people’s reproductive health.

You can watch recordings (available in English and French) and read session summaries to catch up.

Kate Plourde

Technical Advisor, Global Health Population and Research, FHI 360

Kate Plourde, MPH, is a Technical Advisor within the Global Health Population and Research Department at FHI 360. Her areas of specialization include advancing the health and well-being of adolescent girls and young women; addressing social norms, including negative gender norms; and using new technology, including mobile phones and social media, for health education and promotion. She is a DrPH candidate at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health and earned a Master of Public Health with a Global Health concentration from Boston University.