National Conference on Faith for Children
Globally, religious communities are among the greatest advocates for the world’s neediest children, providing guidance, aid and comfort to millions of disadvantaged families. Particularly given their ability to influence individual and societal behavior, these communities are indispensable partners in UNICEF’s work to advance children’s rights and enhance their well-being.
Ratana Metta Organization (RMO) is one of the leading NGOs in Myanmar with an aim to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS epidemic. RMO is also engaged to mobilize the moral and social resources of key religious groups to address shared concerns. To strengthen access to select communities in the project township, UNICEF entered into a partnership with RMO aimed at developing a community platform to improve health of children and their mothers, guarantee their protection and ensure their future through education and life skills. Based on social and spiritual realms, the partnership seeks to empower faith lead¬ers on how to incorporate child survival, de¬velopment and protection issues and solu¬tions into religious dialogues and gatherings.
Under the Faith for Children Initiative, RMO is working with UNICEF to empower religious leaders to use their congregational and other platforms to communicate and pro¬mote practices that support child survival, growth and development. Relevant teach¬ings from Buddhism have been compiled in a Faith for Communication booklet. Using these theological reflections combined with technical information related to child survival, growth and development as well as concrete actions, Buddhist leaders are able to promote key practices. Within a year, over 3,000 mon¬asteries from 880 villages/wards have started to disseminate and promote key family and community practices.
National Faith for Children Conference
RMO in collaboration with UNICEF held a national conference to profile Faith for Chil¬dren Initiative whose focus is on the role of faith in child survival, development and pro¬tection. This was a two-day event held in Yangon, Myanmar. Representatives are drawn from all faiths of Myanmar, national, state/regional and International Religious co¬ordinating bodies, relevant Government of Myanmar Ministries, UNICEF national, Re¬gional and International experts as well as other UN Agencies.
The Conference primarily focused on two themes: 1) Role of Religious Leaders in Child Survival, Development and Protection and 2) Interfaith Dialogue and Collaboration for Chil-dren and Peace. The interfaith dialogue on the selected themes helped elaborate direction and process for behaviour change communi¬cation and advocacy as primary tools of influ-ence for behaviour and social change. Stud¬ies have continuously shown that significant improvements in child survival, development and protection can be achieved using cost-effective behavioural and attitudinal interven¬tions. Faith leaders are singularly well placed to lead in these behavioural and attitudinal changes using the congregational platforms and status in society at their disposal across the board.
The conference seek to take stock and shares best practices with the aim of profiling F4C materials and processes as well as scal¬ing up of “Faith for Children” activities. It aimed to provide a forum for Faith Leaders to ex¬change experiences, map out next steps and strengthen cooperation in cascading of action and role through congregational outlets.
The specific objectives include:
1. Advocacy for Child Rights and Protection through religious leaders and scholars
2. Stocktaking of the work carried out in Myanmar through the “Faith for Children” initiative as well as scaling up the inter¬ventions.
3. Enhance the capacity and role of religious leaders to support child rights, develop¬ment and protection agenda in Myanmar.
4. Experience sharing from other countries on successful children initiatives by reli¬gious leaders.
5. Strengthen interfaith dialogue and part¬nerships for children and peace
These have been to complement the efforts made by the Government of Myanmar and various stakeholders seeking to realize the MDG tar¬gets.
Based on the outcome of this National Conference on Faith for Children, the signed declaration has agreed to form an interreligious platform among the faith communities in Myanmar to develop programmes, projects and partnerships that will empower religious leaders and faith communities with skills, teachings and facilitation to support the rights and protection of children and peace.
National Conference on Faith for Children, 2014 Myanmar Interfaith Declaration
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