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Religious Leaders Commit to Sexuality Education in Churches and Mosques in Liberia

31 May 2017
The 3-day dialogue was attended by executives of the Inter-religious Council of Liberia as well as representatives from the Council’s Women and Children wings
The 3-day dialogue was attended by executives of the Inter-religious Council of Liberia as well as representatives from the Council’s Women and Children wings

Religious leaders under the auspices of the Inter-religious Council of Liberia has resolved to support efforts to end teenage pregnancy in Liberia. The Inter-religious Council of Liberia is a consortium of Liberia Council of Churches and the National Muslim Council of Liberia. The commitment of the religious leaders was contained in a Communiqué released in Monrovia on July 20, 2017 at the end of a 3- day dialogue on adolescent health including the prevalence of teenage pregnancy in Liberia.

Among key issues discussed during the 3-day dialogue supported by UNFPA with funding from the Embassy of Sweden include: Christian perspective of teenage pregnancy, Islam and early marriage, child protection and teenage pregnancy, as well as Adolescent Sexual & Reproductive Health rights. According to the Inter-religious Council of Liberia, “the lack of requisite information on sexuality education, poverty/economic instability, unplanned family life and peer pressure are some of the factors promoting teenage pregnancy in Liberia. In their 2-page Communiqué, the Council called on the Government to place emphasis on sexuality education in the education policy and national curriculum.

The body also wants the Government to provide support and economic empowerment for victims of teenage pregnancy through skills training and reinforce punitive action against parents who use children or teenagers for street selling. The religious leaders pledged to advocate for the inclusion of sex education in national school curriculum and the establishment of health clubs in schools and communities as well as encourage the teaching of sexuality education by parents in communities. Meanwhile, the Inter-religious Council of Liberia has presented the Communiqué to the Embassy of Sweden in Monrovia.

Bishop Jonathan BB Hart, President and Sheik Omaru Kamara, Vice President of the Interreligious Council of Liberia presented the document to Ambassador Ingrid Wetterqvist on Friday 28 July at which time the religious leaders expressed their appreciation to the Swedish Government for its support to Liberia.They pledged to share the Communiqué with Churches and Mosques across the country.

In remarks, Ambassador Wetterqvist said young people must be given the opportunity to have a responsible, satisfying and safe sex life, without coercion, violence, discrimination or the risk of becoming involuntarily pregnant or being infected by HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases if they are to contribute to the economic growth of the country. Ambassador Wetterqvist said Sweden’s support to Liberia through UNFPA was aimed at empowering young girls and boys with information and services to exercise their reproductive rights and fulfill their full potential.