UNICEF engages faith leaders in behavior change

UNICEF in collaboration with National Social Mobilization Committee (NSMC) has appealed to faith actors in Malawi to work together in ensuring positive behavior change among communities towards children.

UNICEF Country Representative, Rudolf Schwenk: When religious leaders speak, people listen so we hope with them we can collectively address the issue of child marriage

In an initiative called “Faith and Positive Change for Children (FPCC) Global Initiative”, UNICEF is engaging religious leaders, individuals and communities to influence positive behavior in central to realizing children’s rights.

Speaking during a training workshop for religious leaders at Linde Motel in Dowa district, UNICEF Country Representative, Rudolf Schwenk said Malawi is one of the countries where FPCC project is piloted.

“Faith based organizations are very important and most influential for making a difference in children’s life. When religious leaders speak, people listen so we hope with them we can collectively address the issue of child marriage which is currently very high in Malawi at 47 percent.

“Religious leaders and community leaders are the closest to the families and children therefore we have to empower them as they play their role in society so that we have a positive outcome for the children,” said Schwenk.

Principle Secretary for Ministry of Information, Civic Education and Information Technology, Dr. Esme Kainja said Malawi records many cases of violence against children therefore to create an enabling environment for these children there was need for partnership even with faith actors.

“Religious leaders are more trusted in the society because they are like role models and pioneers of hope. In collaboration with UNICEF and involving the faith actors messages will be developed and shared in religious forums.

“Child marriage is the largest contributor of poverty in the country and for the future of Malawi, we need to promote education,” said Kainja.

Faith and Positive Change for Children is a Global initiative on social and behavior Change aimed at strengthening UNICEF’s partnership with faith actors for positive outcomes for children globally.

FPCC is working jointly with the Joint Learning Initiative (JLI) on faith and local communities and religions for peace (RFP) to provide support to countries towards strengthening of faithbased initiatives for children.

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