Quezon City, Philippines – July 22, 2017
The Luzon region of Philippines is set to experience lower maternal mortality rates that were previously characteristic among young women blow 24 years of age. This is after religious leaders in the region began promoting family planning within and outside the faith spaces.
Speaking at the conclusion of a series of community educational activities on family planning, Luz Chua, the Executive Director of Catholics for Reproductive Health (C4RH), acknowledged the support of faith leaders, both lay and ordained. “Their faith values, sense of mission, and extensive network have been proven effective in raising awareness, disseminating information, and delivering much needed assistance to people, especially in the least developed and hard to reach communities,” said Ms Chua.
More than 400 members of the faith communities were made aware of family planning choices, reproductive health laws and teenage pregnancy. They included Hindus, Muslims and Christians. C4RH worked with Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI), Imam Council of the Philippines (ICP), Romblon-Mindoro Ecumenical Council (RoMinEC), United Methodist Church (UMC) and United Church of Christ of the Philippines (UCCP), among other FBOs. A compassion mission was also held with local government of Sta. Rosa and with the Chaplaincy office of the Philippine National Police on the reproductive health orientation for policewomen.
Ms Chua said they began by mapping the churches and FBOs in the region which gave them a firm understanding of the religious leaders perceptions of gender, sexuality, and reproductive health and rights. “The directory of major Christian churches, Islamic organizations & mosques, temples of other religions is a very useful tool for communication and coordination,” she said.
Data from the initial mapping indicated that all churches agree on responsible parenting and planning of families. “However,” said Ms Chua, “the Roman Catholic Church officially supports natural family planning (NFP) only while Muslims do not allow permanent methods.” Also noted was the diversity in content and approaches to forming positive values on personhood and responsible sexuality and relationships among young people.
In one of the interfaith workshops, dubbed ‘Interfaith for Dignity and Equality Advancement & Solidarity (IDEAS)’, leaders from different faith traditions held enriching conversations on the challenges and opportunities of using faith perspectives to improve people’s health, found grounds of convergence of religious and universal values, identified approaches for working together, and expressed commitment to nurture the collaborative actions.
Another workshop explored the Sacred Dialogue on Human Dignity & Equality: A Matter of Faith, A Matter of Health & Rights, Abrahamic Traditions on Sexuality and Family Planning in the Sacred Texts, Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law: Respectful of Religious Diversity, Islam for Peace and Family Well-being and Let Grace Be Total: Rights-based Approach to Sexual Orientation Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE).
The community educational and advocacy activities were funded by Faith to Action Network, through the Faith+FP Advocacy Fund.