The Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities (JLI) is pleased to announce the initiation of a partnership with UNICEF and Religions for Peace over the next three years. Faith and Positive Change for Children: Global Initiative on Social and Behaviour Change is a collaboration with the UNICEF Communication for Development in Programme Division and the Civil Society Partnerships Unit in the Division of Communication. The project will look across sectors including health, development, protection, and empowerment of children, especially focusing on the most marginalized, across the life-cycle.
FPCC Information Brief
The purpose of the global Initiative is to move beyond a single sector, single denomination and message-based communication to support more focused, systematic and at-scale engagement with faith-based communities and actors to influence positive social and behaviour change towards improving the wellbeing of children, youth, women and families, particularly the most marginalized.
This new way of working was tested in in-country through WorkRocks 2019 to develop principles for systematic engagement with FBOs at scale for social and behavior change, guidelines, and resources. In 2020, the initiative will finalize an FPCC Global Guidance Toolkit, plan rollout, and begin advocacy and communications.
As of June 2020, the partners held eight regional webinars to increase awareness and strengthen coordinated efforts through the global Faith-in-Action campaign, to mobilize inter-faith commitments of Religious Leaders and Faith representatives including Women of Faith and Interfaith Youth Network Members to support the specific calls to action; to equip these influencers with a standard set of global guidance with messages and resources that can be customized for local use and to share existing examples of best practices to motivate others
Guidance on key challenges in addressing COVID-19, recommended actions and related multi-religious teachings including resources from technical partners, UNICEF, WHO, IFRC, and the COVID-19 Initiative Reference Document (above). These are intended for local adaptation and use by religious leaders, faith communities, and faith-based organizations at national and community levels.
Guidance Coming soon:
Preventing Violence Against Women & Children
Children and Youth Participation
Supporting Recovery of Social Services
2019 FPCC WorkRock: Reports from Early Adopter Countries
FPCC WorkRock is a participatory process to develop a country-specific Journey of Change for Children. Convened by national faith councils and UNICEF, diverse religious leaders, including women and youth, came together with UNICEF Country Office representatives for an intensive four day WorkRock. Inspired by heart mind dialogue, participants drew on their own childhood experiences, formative research they conducted with children and youth in their own communities, and their experiences regarding children’s needs, to spotlight priorities for positive change for children in their communities, and to develop a detailed Journey of Change strategy to address the issue(s). They framed action plans at personal, institutional and national levels, in some cases formalized in the form of Declarations, and made commitments to collaboration and change.
The summary reports for each country can be found below, along with WorkRock key documents and resources shared with all participants.
Literature review- 91 resources reviewed in-depth, whittled down from 1600+
17 country-specific case studies from interviews with Faith Actor Partner (e.g. Inter-Religious Council of Leaders, Faith-based Universities, National FBOs and faith-based networks), Government Partner, and UNICEF on partnerships – 42 people interviewed
Country mapping & Bangkok consultation
Content review – 27 toolkits reviewed
Draft Theory of Change development consultation with 13 institutions
More about the evidence and 2018 Bangkok consultation
The partners collaborated to hold a multi-country consultation in Bangkok in July to input into the programmatic framework. Participants included 17 UNICEF Country Offices and 5 RfP Interreligious Councils. The workshop had over 100 participants from 20 countries across all regions of the world.
The evidence developed from 2018 from faith-based knowledge, social and behavior change knowledge, Academic and NGO sources culminated in drafting a translated conceptual framework.
Series 3: Resource Guide for Religious Leaders and Faith Communities
Certain groups of people are at greater risk of complications and death. These include the elderly and those with underlying health conditions such as diabetes, asthma, and heart disease. People with disabilities or weakened immune systems and those in nursing homes or long-term care facilities are also at risk. People living in crowded spaces with limited sanitation facilities like migrants, those living in poverty or in urban settlements, displaced populations, refugees, and people affected by humanitarian emergencies are also at risk and may not be able to practice the recommended preventive behaviours, especially physical distancing. Referred to as groups at risk or facing vulnerabilities, these people often are likely to suffer more negative consequences when crises occur.
Religious leaders – through their position of trust – can establish valuable support and safety networks for these groups. They can also promote dialogue and action among communities to provide assistance and encourage values of solidarity, community and hope.
Series 2: Resource Guide for Religious Leaders and Faith Communities
Ensuring trust, mental health, spiritual guidance, and social support are essential during a pandemic, when people are coping with intensified levels of fear, uncertainty, loss, and anxiety. Based on their trusted position, religious leaders are seen as reliable sources of information in communities. Religious leaders have significant influence over the attitudes, beliefs and behaviours of their followers and the wider community. In times of crisis, religious leaders can provide spiritual guidance and support when solidarity, hope and empathy is needed most.
In the context of health outbreaks such as COVID-19, religious leaders also have an important role in tackling stigma and discrimination resulting from misinformation and from targeting specific individuals or groups of people associated with the disease. In order to carry out this important role, religious leaders need to equip themselves with a better understanding of some of the contributing factors and negative effects of misinformation, rumours, fear, hopelessness, stigma, and discrimination.
Series 1: Resource Guide for Religious Leaders and Faith Communities
During a global crisis people tend to turn to their religious leaders and faith communities for social, emotional, spiritual, and material support. National and global institutions, including religious, political, and health institutions, have put forward detailed guidelines for how we interact, congregate, worship and perform religious rites, including death and mourning rituals. Religious leaders use their authority and the trust and respect they command to promote these guidelines among their faith communities to ensure the continued safety and well-being of their communities.
This is a living document. It is up-to-date as of April 2020.
We expect that new resources will be issued and can be used in addition to this document in the future. This document was produced in a short time as a reference guide, but has not been fully edited. Please excuse typographical errors. This is the source document for a series of guides for religious leaders and faith communities in the Multi-Religious Faith-in-Action COVID-19 Initiative with UNICEF and Religions for Peace, which will be released late April/May 2020. Please contact JLI for further information on these guides.
Acknowledgments: Sincere thanks to the Faith and Positive Change for Children (FPCC) Partners Religions for Peace and UNICEF for their review and contributions. Thanks also to the faith-based organization members of the FPCC Advisory Group (ACT Alliance, Adventist Development and Relief Agency, Anglican Alliance, Arigatou International, Catholic Relief Services, Episcopal Relief and Development, Humanitarian Forum Indonesia, Islamic Relief Worldwide, Mothers’ Union, Salvation Army, Sarvodaya, Soka Gakkai International, Tearfund, World Council of Churches, and World Vision International) for sharing their resources, and reviewing the guidance document.
Contributors: Olivia Wilkinson, Susanna Trotta, Ellen Goodwin, Stacy Nam, and Jean Duff
Suggested Citation: Multi-Religious Faith-in-Action COVID-19 Campaign Guidance Document
for Religious Leaders and Faith Communities. April 2020. Washington DC: Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities
Correspondence: Dr. Olivia Wilkinson, Director of Research, Joint Learning Initiative on Faith
and Local Communities, [email protected]
The Action Plan details the steps to take on promoting child care and well-being in Niger from January to December 2020. The topics include health, education, child protection, child nutrition and hygiene and clean environment for children.
En Francais: ARGUMENTAIRE RELIGIEUX HARMNISE RELATIVE A LA PROMOTION DES DROITS L’ENFANT (FILLE ET GARCON) AU BIEN-ETRE
This religious document relating to the Rights of the child (Girl and Boy) and their well-being, is the result of a commitment by religious leaders (Muslims and Christians) and traditional leaders under the leadership of the Ministry ofCultural Renaissance, Arts and Social Modernization in collaboration with the Islamic Association FAOUZIYYA, the Islamic Council of Niger and other Ministries (Promotion of women and protection, interior administration, public security,decentralization, Customary and Religious Affairs and Population) with the support of UNICEF and the participation of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Participants based on their religious affiliation will be inspired to educate our populations and especially young people and adolescents on responsible parenting in Niger.
Local faith actors and religious leaders with UNICEF Niger, Religions for Peace and the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities convened the Niger WorkRock in Niamey, in the conference room of the Radisson HotelBlue de Niamey, under the chairmanship of the Minister of Cultural Renaissance, Arts and Social Modernization. This meeting which brought together customary and religious leaders and officials from the Ministries in charge of the issue took place as follows:the opening ceremony, the progress of the works and the closing ceremony.
Cameroon’s WorkRock was attended by 50 UNICEF staff, government officials and different actors from the faith community. The Minister for the Promotion of Women and the Family opened the WorkRock, which continued with a variety of speakers representing faith communities and the government. The remaining four days focused on a new way of working with UNICEF and local faith actors and religious leaders. The meeting resulted in the development of a Journey of Change from their experiences and learning, corroborating with the global framework.
Published: 2019Author:Joint Learning Initiative on Faith & Local Communities
The ‘Faith for Positive Change for Children’ (FPCC) global initiative aims to build a new form of partnership between UNICEF and faith-based actors, enabling them to work together in a more effective, systemic, and scalable way to bring sustained impact in children’s lives. UNICEF has recognized the value of working with faith actors for many years, but its 2014 mapping showed that its approach across 150 countries often instrumentalized faith groups in partnerships that were ad-hoc, short-term and message-based, rather than working collaboratively to address the complexity of social and behavior change. In response, its Communications for Development (C4D) section began a partnership in 2018 with the ‘Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities’ and ‘Religions for Peace’ to: draw together the global evidence base of what really works; review toolkits; hold a UNICEF and faith partner workshop in Bangkok; document case-studies of UNICEF’s existing work in this area; co-create a ‘Journey of Change’ for how faith actors and UNICEF can partner most effectively to impact children; and set up an advisory group of 20 partner organizations and web platform to share resources. Now they are trialing the Journey of Change in five pilot countries before strategizing the way forward.
The initiative uses the term ‘WorkRock’ instead of ‘workshop’ to emphasize that these are not trainings to impart information, but focus on learning together about the foundations of creating lasting impact for children and finding a new way of partnering. The initial WorkRocks in South Sudan and Malawi affirmed the global ‘Journey of Change’ by developing similar ones from their own learning, taking ownership of the initiative and making shared commitments to action. UNICEF Liberia is the third to host a ‘WorkRock’. 45 faith leaders and organizations, government officers and UNICEF staff came together.
EARLY ADOPTERS’ WORKROCK MALAWI 11-15 NOVEMBER 2019
The ‘Faith for Positive Change for Children’ (FPCC) global initiative aims to enable UNICEF and faith-based actors to work together in a more sustainable, systemic, integrated and scalable way to impact children’s lives. UNICEF has a long history of active engagement with local faith actors. Its 2014 mapping showed that its approach across 150 countries was mainly ad-hoc, short-term and message-based. It was instrumentalising faith groups, rather than working collaboratively to address the complexity of social and behaviour change. Its Communications for Development (C4D) section therefore teamed up with the ‘Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities’ and ‘Religions for Peace’ on this initiative. In 2018, they drew together the global evidence base to show what really works, reviewed toolkits, held a UNICEF and faith partner workshop in Bangkok, documented case-studies of UNICEF’s existing work in this area, co-created a theory of change for the initiative, and set up an advisory group of 20 partner organisations and web platform to share resources. Since then, the initiative has developed draft guidance and a package of resources to support roll-out.
UNICEF Malawi was the second of five early adopter countries in Africa to host this ‘WorkRock’ (with South Sudan, Liberia, Cameroon and Niger). The term ‘WorkRock’ emphasises that this is not ‘business as usual’ but about figuring out a new way of working together, based on strong foundations in evidence. With the help of the Public Affairs Committee (PAC), the WorkRock brought together 50 faith leaders and organisations, government officers and UNICEF staff from within Malawi and 10 international.
The Faith and Positive Change for Children Initiative conducted a week-long WorkRock in Malawi.
This event has brought participants together in joining efforts to tackle issues related to child protection, especially child marriage. The event has given a new perspective of working for/with children to dig deeper into social norms and practices that are harmful to children – for generations to come.
Malawi Faith Actors represented by the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) drawn from the Malawi Council of Churches, Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM), Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM), Anglican Council of Malawi, Baptist Convention of Malawi, Muslim Association of Malawi, Quadria Association of Malawi (OMAM) in collaboration with UNICEF and Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities convened the WorkRock.
From the 11th to 15th of November 2019, the participants discussed the theme Strengthening Partnerships For Faith Actors For Positive Change for Children in Malawi.
EARLY ADOPTERS’ WORKROCK SOUTH SUDAN 7-11 OCTOBER 2019
UNICEF South Sudan was the first of five early adopter countries in Africa (with Malawi, Liberia, Cameroon and Niger) to host this ‘WorkRock’ – a term that shows that this is not ‘business as usual’ but about figuring out a new way of working together, based on strong foundations in evidence. With the help of the South Sudan Council of Churches and Islamic Council, it brought together 65 faith leaders and organisations, government officers and UNICEF staff.
Published: 2019Author:Joint Learning Initiative on Faith & Local Communities
Inter-faith initiative on engagement of young people in support of ending violence against children
UNICEF and COEPA’s (the inter-religious council of Panama) partnership has brought together diverse denominations in Panama to advocate for ending violence against children. The core of the initiative is to see enhanced cooperation among these groups, supported by UNICEF engagement, and reinforced by increased youth participation and empowerment so that young people are less affected by domestic violence and child abuse.
Studies show that young people in Panama particularly trust their religious leaders. Outreach within youth groups and at the Youth Assembly has been a primary way to reach adolescents with messages about child rights.
UNICEF and COEPA have cooperated on Annual Days of Prayer and Action to End Violence Against Children for a decade. More recently the campaign expanded to include outreach through television and radio.
Multi-level, Multi-theme and Multi-platform Inter-faith engagement
The partnership between Al-Azhar University and UNICEF Egypt initially started through advocacy in the 1980s. With an enabling government environment, the involvement of the Ministry has shown success in joint advocacy and policy statements on child issues in the last few years. The program works through a two-pronged approach through the Ministry of Religion, and also through associated Imams and the students at the university. This program is now expanding to Coptic Orthodox church leaders.
The University acts as a conduit through which to reach out to varying levels of religious leaders as change agents. While this initially began with focus on support to child protection and care it is now expanding to a broader integrated approach to include other thematic areas.
The engagement comprises a continuum of approaches from delivery of edutainment media to role modelling among peers in order to better communicate information on protecting child wellbeing. A guide on Peace, Love, and Tolerance to protect children from violence has been developed from Muslim and Christian perspectives and translated into English and Arabic.
Humanitarian-Development Nexus in South Sudan: Overcoming fragile weakened governance through faith-based institutions to promote sustained community engagement for child wellbeing
UNICEF South Sudan C4D is focused on sustaining community engagement during an L2 emergency with widespread food insecurity, conflict and displacement. In the community, religious leaders are key influencers and their engagement must be sustained to create change.
UNICEF works with religious leaders to provide key lifesaving messages and increase their knowledge on subjects related to child rights so that the religious leaders can integrate these messages into their routine sermons and community announcements and facilitate in-depth dialogue with followers of the faith to shape their attitudes and practices.
Due to instability in the country, governance structures
are weakened and community leaders, including religious leaders, must be engaged on a community by community basis to support community engagement. UNICEF has created an Integrated Community Mobilization Network, now with over 4,500 volunteers, and regularly engages with religious leaders through orientations to sustain the growth of their knowledge and their engagement in improving child wellbeing.
Integrating Faith for Social and Behaviour Change into Pagoda Structures for a Systems Approach to Capacity Development
UNICEF Cambodia and the Ministry of Cults and Religion (MoCR) have a strong level of collaboration, which allows for widespread engagement with the Buddhist education system and pagodas across the country.
Pagodas across the country represent places of safety for many children, but there is also evidence that violence can occur in these religious institutions, hence the need for a nuanced understanding of child protection in pagodas.
As an outcome of collaboration with the General Inspectorate of National Buddhist Education, which is part of the Ministry, it is now compulsory for monks to learn about child protection in their training. National regulation has been adopted for Child Protection Policies to be instituted in pagodas across the country, along with training of monks in how to implement these policies.
In addition to the child protection curriculum, UNICEF Cambodia has begun the production of Social and Behaviour Change resources to stimulate dialogue around reducing violence against children in the community.
The Ministry of Cults and Religion of Cambodia in cooperation with the Buddhist Cabinet of Cambodia developed child protection resource, Novice Sokha, a cartoon about a young monk who experiences violence at home. Monks can use this resource to support their dissemination of information about reducing violence against children in the community.
This draft theory of change sets out a framework to show how faith-based organisations and groups can contribute effectively to social and behaviour change. It forms part of the ‘Faith and Positive Change for Children’ partnership between UNICEF’s Communications for Development (C4D) in the Programme Division, Civil Society Partnerships in the Communications Division, the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities (JLI) and Religions for Peace (RfP).
UNICEF has a long history of working with faith-based organisations (FBOs). However, many partnerships have been short-term and focused on a single sector, rather than taking a more systemic approach, as required to effect change in complex behaviours and social norms. JLI is an international collaboration on evidence for faith groups’ contribution to local community well being and to ending poverty while Religions for Peace (RfP) is the largest multi-religious coalition globally. The partnership vision is to develop the capacity of UNICEF staff and their faith partners to support more effective approaches, specifically in relation to jointly identified priority results for children.
This Theory of Change will be updated following the six in-country workshops in East and West Africa.
Published: 2019Author:Faith for Positive Change for Children: UNICEF, Religions for Peace, Joint Learning Initiative on Faith & Local Communities
This report documents the first Global Evidence Review and Regional and Country Planning Workshop held in Bangkok from July 10 to 12, 2017, to launch a new Partnership Initiative on Faith and Positive Change for Children: A Global Initiative on Social and Behaviour Change (FPCC), organized by UNICEF, the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith & Local Communities and Religions for Peace.
Over 100 participants from 20 countries across all regions of the world representing different religious congregations and faith-based organizations, long-standing and new partners of UNICEF, as well as UNICEF Officers from HQ, Regional and Country Offices shared their experience in faith-based programming for children in partnership and altogether committed to the global launch of this new partnership initiative.
The Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities (JLI) is working with UNICEF’s Communication for Development Section in Programme Division and the Civil Society Partnerships Unit in the Division of Communication on an initiative, titled the “Faith and Positive Change for Children: Global Initiative on Social and Behaviour Change.”
The project aims to generate knowledge on the specific roles, caveats, effective strategies, and demonstrated impacts of faith-based organizations in social and behavior change communications. The initiative will support faith engagement across sectors including health, development, protection, and empowerment of children throughout the life cycle, with a strong focus on the most marginalized.
One of the most powerful influencers of individual behaviours, social norms and collective action at community and societal level is religion.
To maximize opportunities for more positive and impactful influence towards improving child and family wellbeing, UNICEF (Communication for Development Section and Civil Society Partnerships Unit in NYHQ), the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities and Religions for Peace in 2018 embarked on a new global Initiative on Faith and Positive Change for Children.
Published: 2019Author:UNICEF, Joint Learning Initiative on Faith & Local Communities (JLI) and Religions for Peace
UNICEF and other child rights organizations* have a long history of partnering with religious communities of all faiths on a wide range of issues that affect children. Religious communities are uniquely positioned to promote equitable outcomes for the most vulnerable children and families. Their moral influence and extensive networks give them access to the most disenfranchised and deprived groups, those that international organizations and governments are sometimes less able to reach effectively. They are also grounded in philosophical frameworks that shape their call to community service into long-term commitments to achieving peace, justice and social equality.
Several key elements of the Convention on the Rights of the Child – the most widely ratified and comprehensive legal instrument for the protection of child rights – reflect values shared with the world’s major religious traditions. These include:
• A fundamental belief in the dignity of the child.
• An emphasis on the family as the best place for bringing up children.
• High priority given to children and the idea that all members of society have rights and duties towards them.
• A holistic notion of the child and a comprehensive understanding of his or her physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs.
Aside from the potential benefits that religious actors bring to partnerships, spirituality and religion can have a profound influence on children’s development and socialization and have the potential to reinforce protective influences and promote resilience. The beliefs, practices, social networks and resources of religion can instil hope, give meaning to difficult experiences and provide emotional, physical and spiritual support. Impact can be far-reaching when child rights efforts are grounded in the protective aspects of religious beliefs and practices in a community.
In spite of the positive roles religious communities can play, it is important to acknowledge there are sometimes concerns about working in partnership with these groups. Although the fundamental values of all the major religious traditions uphold the dignity and right to well-being of children, some beliefs, attitudes and practices associated with religions promote or condone violence and discrimination against children. Whether these are actual religious tenets, or religion is misused to justify harmful beliefs and practices, they can violate a child’s physical, emotional and spiritual integrity. There may also be apprehensions that faith-based organizations will pressure aid recipients to convert or only provide aid to those with similar religious views.
* In this guide the term ‘child rights organizations’ refers to non-religiously affiliated NGOs and networks. Child rights organizations that are affiliated with religions are included here under the term ‘faith-based organizations
Provide a general overview of the nature and scope of violence against children that can be used for
informational and educational purposes;
Highlight the positive roles that religious communities can and do play in advocating for and contributing to the protection of children from violence;
Stress the benefits of inter-religious coordination and collaboration in promoting children’s rights; and
Guide discussion, planning and action around child protection issues within religious communities and in larger social settings.
The guide is divided into eight sections. Following this Introduction, section two provides topical background to the subject. Sections three and four provide brief overviews of violence against children and children’s rights. Section five discusses children, religion and spirituality. Section six addresses the role of religious communities in addressing violence against children and section seven – the importance of engagement with key stakeholders. Section eight provides the conclusion to the guide
Published: 2015Author:UNICEF, Religions for Peace: Chris Dodd and Malia Robinson under the supervision of Stephen Hanmer & Deepika Singh
For more information please contact the JLI Director of Research, Dr. Olivia Wilkinson at [email protected]