INERELA+ Acting Executive Director Munya Mandipaza and Rev Nokhuthula Dhladhla and Bishop David Nhlapo (both from INERELA+ South Africa and Sheik Haneef Ngundende of INERELA+ Malawi attended the Regional Advocacy Roundtable for Strengthening the Role of Religious Leaders in advocating for the Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights and HIV for Vulnerable Populations which was organized by IOM regional office Pretoria and SAVE The Children Regional Office South Africa from 17 to 20 August 2022 in Eswatini. The program is a critical platform to advocate for increased access to services and an enabling environment for the realization of the SRH and HIV rights targeting hard-to-reach populations (migrants, adolescents, and young people) in the SADC region.
1. This program aims to create demand for SRHR-HIV services by
a) Promoting access to sexual and reproductive health services such as family planning, HIV/STI prevention, and treatment for migrants, adolescents, and young people
b) Address harmful traditional and cultural practices, SGBV, sexuality, and SRH Rights.
2. Creating an enabling local, national & regional environment by
a) addressing physical, economic & social barriers to health
b) establishing a cadre of SRHR-HIV and Migration advocates by building the capacity of policymakers, influencers, and academics on SRHR needs and rights of migrants adolescents, and young people. Government officials, Religious Leaders, and the Representatives of Religious Leader Institutions (Regional and National) from Malawi, South Africa, Lesotho, Zambia, Swaziland, and Mozambique participated in this dialogue. Fruitfully this engagement was able to gain a number of commitments from highly influential and recognised religious leaders, with one of the more poignant ones being, “No Child Marriages under the watch of Religious leaders in our time.” In her presentation, the INERELA+ Acting Executive Director Munya Mandipaza emphasised that there is a need to articulate models of justice and inclusion through religious structures by creating safe spaces for vulnerable populations. Additionally, she made it clear that faith leaders have a role in unpacking myths associated with comprehensive sexuality education and the conviction of their hearts and change of their mindsets is what she called for.