Frequently, community based strategies include engagement with local faith leaders. However, there have been few systematic attempts to document how faith leaders themselves define their roles in these initiatives. This study examined local faith leaders and their spouses, in flood affected areas of Malawi, who had been oriented to child protection issues through World Vision workshops aimed explicitly at relating protection concerns to religious teachings. Many participants reported that attending a workshop had been transformational in terms of their perspectives regarding the protection of children.

The key child protection issues identified by participants included child marriage, lack of attendance at school, child labour (including forced labour), harsh physical punishment and sexual abuse. Many faith leaders − and their wives − became active in addressing child protection issues as a result of the programme, although the form of this action varied widely and was significantly influenced by their varied status and capacities

 Faith leaders can be effective community based advocates for child protection both embedded
within, and equipped to challenge, shared religious beliefs and practices

 Faith leaders are not a homogenous group and strategies to engage with them need to reflect their
widely varying status, resources and capacities

 The wives of pastors and women who are leading ministries are a particularly powerful resource to
engage with local child protection issues

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