“Religious actors are silent about sustainable population and development because they do not have a common position on family planning,” said Rev. Dr. Lydia Mwaniki, Director of Women, Gender and Youth at the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC)
In a panel discussion titled ‘Keeping the Faith in SRHR’ at the Nairobi Summit: International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Kenya, Rev. Dr. Mwaniki stated that Religious actors are silent about sustainable population and development because they do not have a common position on family planning yet the rapid population growth in Africa is a threat to Africa’s development according to the ongoing debates on Common Africa’s Position on Population and development.
Other challenges within the SRHR continuum of issues as raised by Rev. Dr. Mwaniki include; trivializing SRHR by reducing it to abortion, knowledge gap among the adolescents, young people and within service providers on the importance of SRH and selective reading of Biblical texts.
Rev. Dr. Mwaniki further called for strengthening relationships among Religious Actors, advocating for Law Enforcement and Unpacking ‘rights’ for increased knowledge.
Tools that have worked for her in addressing SRHR include her book on “Gender and Imago Dei: A Postcolonial African Reading of I Corinthians 11:1-16, which offers the postcolonial theory as a method of reading gender-biased biblical texts as well as the AACC Strategy (2019-2023). “The AACC strategy (2019-2023) is a powerful tool which has created spaces to engage church leaders, other Faith actors and traditional leaders on issues of GVB, harmful cultural practices such as FGM and child marriage, women’s Health issues and sustainable development, engaging youth on the issue of SRHR,” added Rev. Dr. Mwaniki.
AACC is influencing gender justice at the Policy Level at the African Union through collaboration with AU Women, Gender and Development Directorate (WGDD) and Engagement with UN Women ESARO in the Development of AACC Engendered Women, Peace and Security Framework (geared towards increasing women’s participation in peace process-in conflict prevention, conflict resolution and reconciliation processes in line with UNSCR 1325.
In the panel was Mr. Rudelmar Bueno de Faria, ACT Alliance, Sheikh Saliou Mbacke, Cadre des Religieux pour la Santé et le Développement (CRSD), Dr. Maria Flachsbarth, Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Rev. Carlos Tamez, Latin American Council of churches, The Most Rev. Dr. Antje Jackelén, Church of Sweden, Ms. Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji, Global interfaith Wash Alliance, Ms Alissa Wahid and Rev. Dr. Lydia Mwaniki, All Africa Conference of Churches.
In an earlier session of the Nairobi Summit, Rev. Dr. Lydia Mwaniki read out the statement and commitment of Faith Based Actors at the ICPD which reiterated that life is a gift from God, and therefore sacred; it ought not to be taken away through preventable causes.