Interfaith Workshop in Siem Reap Propels Family Planning Forward Through Faith-Based Collaboration

Siem Reap, Cambodia, May 10, 2024

A landmark three-day Interfaith Workshop has successfully concluded in Siem Reap, significantly advancing family planning through faith-based collaboration across the Asia Pacific region. The FP2030 South-to-South Learning Workshop, which took place from May 7th to 9th, 2024, saw the gathering of diverse religious leaders and faith actors, collectively driving the FP2030 commitments forward through interfaith actions. 

The event, themed “Interfaith Action to Drive Progress on FP2030 Commitments,” opened with remarks from Dr. Kros Sarath, Director of Provincial Health Department, Siem Reap, Cambodia. While welcoming the participants to the workshop, he highlighted the achievements of Cambodia’s contraceptive programs and recognized the ongoing challenges in health improvement. Sumita Banerjee, Managing Director Asia and the Pacific hub of FP2030, underscored the integration of ancient wisdom with modern family planning practices to promote life, health, and equity. “Our journey together under FP2030 has been marked by significant milestones, which reflect our deepening understanding and expanding collaboration. We have, over recent years, built a formidable network of over 100 faith partners globally. This network has been pivotal in not only expanding access but in also embedding family planning within the moral and ethical frameworks that guide our communities,” Banerjee noted. 

The workshop featured intense discussions and knowledge-sharing sessions centered on advocacy, accountability, and dispelling faith-related myths. Key sessions included innovative community-based and gender-transformative programming and strategies to counteract resistance to family planning initiatives. Prominent attendees like Chris Williams from the UK Embassy reiterated the UK’s commitment to providing contraceptive access to women and girls. Ork Vichit from the Cambodian Ministry of Public Health and Sochea Sam from USAID Cambodia discussed local progress and challenges, emphasizing the need for sustained interfaith dialogue. 

A significant focus of the workshop was strategic planning and coordination efforts, aimed at enhancing the involvement of faith actors in emergency preparedness and response within the family planning and sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) sectors. The role of faith leaders was highlighted as pivotal not only in providing moral and ethical guidance but also in ensuring that emergency response strategies are culturally sensitive and widely accepted. 

The workshop’s conclusion marked a significant stride towards better integrating family planning services with religious and cultural practices, aiming to achieve improved health outcomes and empowerment for women and girls across the region. 

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