UNESCO hands over the Religious Leaders’ Adolescent and Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights’ Toolkit

UNESCO Dar es salaam Head of Office, Mr Tirso Dos Santos has handed over 560 copies of the Religious Leaders’ Adolescents, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights toolkit on 18 October 2021 to Tanzania Interfaith Partnership (TIP). Two versions of the toolkit, one for Muslim and the other for Christian denominations, were developed after the adaptation to the Tanzanian context of the generic toolkit developed in 2019 by the World Council of Churches (WCC).This decision was taken in order to make the toolkit user friendly for the targeted groups. Hence, each version of the toolkit included different citations from the Holy Coran and the Holy Bible.

The involvement of religious leaders is of paramount importance in reaching more young people including those who are out of the mainstream education. In fact, they are among the most influential groups of leaders and are a perfect vessel to relay the message to the public. TIP hailed UNESCO for the support and for its move to create ties with clerics because they are the right entry point to reach the soul and bring changes among young people.

The toolkit aims to equip religious leaders with resources for engaging with their communities to address the needs and challenges related to Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (ASRHR). Clerics that participated in the handover ceremony indicated that SRHR is a critical in redressing young people in Tanzania in order to create a more mindful, respectful, and equal and informed community. This observation was given by Saida Mukhi, Executive Director for the Tanzania Interfaith Partnership (TIP). The UNESCO Dar es Salaam Head of office on his side believes that education is one of the most powerful ways to improve people’s health and if it is of good quality and relevant for the lives of learners, it will contribute to sustainable development. The two versions of the toolkit will help both Muslim and Christian clerics to address needs and challenges related to SRH, HIV/AIDS and gender based violence prevention.

The adaptation of the toolkit was done within the UNESCO SIDA funded project entitled ‘Our Rights, Our Lives, Our Future’ commonly known as O3. UNESCO’s interventions intend to empower adolescents and young people through developing skills, knowledge, attitudes, and competencies required for preventing HIV/AIDS, reducing early and unintended pregnancies as well as eliminating GBV.

The handover ceremony brought together representatives from the Tanzania Interfaith Partnership, Muslim Council of Tanzania (BAKWATA), Christian Council of Tanzania, the Office of Mufti of Zanzibar, Tanzania Episcopal Centre, UNESCO as well as members of the press.