Opening Speech at the SSC Training on Strategic Partnership with Muslim Religious Leaders In Family Planning for Nepalese Officials

23 August 2016

Speech of the UNFPA Representative

At the Opening Ceremony of SSC Training on Strategic Partnership with Muslim Religious Leaders

In Family Planning for Nepalese Officials

Jakarta, 22 August 2016


Dr. Sanjoyo – Deputy for Training and Development, BKKBN

Mr. Mukhtar Bhakti – Director, Center for International Training and Collaboration, BKKBN

Distinguished Trainers/Facilitators;

Distinguished Participants from Nepal

Ladies and Gentlemen


Assalumu Allaikum

Good Afternoon, Selamat Siang

It is a real pleasure for me to represent UNFPA today to welcome you to the Training on Strategic Partnerships in Family Planning with Muslim Religious Leaders for Nepalese Officials.


I would firstly like to thank the Government of Indonesia especially BKKBN – the National Population and Family Planning Board – for supporting this bilateral initiative, which I believe is a critical flagship programme of which UNFPA is proud to be a part.


Similar training was organized in April 2016. More than 45 candidates applied for the training. But, only twenty participants received scholarships from the Government of Indonesia to join the training during that time. Today, we have a training that is dedicated for Nepalese officials.  We are really happy that other countries are finding this training useful and requesting Indonesia’s assistance in providing it. This is also indicates that countries perceive the role of Muslim Religious Leaders is influential in the success of family planning programmes.


Religious leaders are advocates, public speakers, and motivators to their followers and can encourage them to adopt family planning programmes. They use the Holy Book, the Qur’an, as their basis to advocate, therefore for their followers they are usually the most effective motivators.


Family Planning is not meant for population control. It is meant for improving the health of the mothers and children, it is a means to reduce maternal mortality – the death of mothers due to pregnancy and delivery. Ensuring births are not too close, too frequent, to women who are not too old, or not too young is critical and can be facilitated through family planning.


You among us who are religious leaders hold the key to life for many families. Religious leaders shape individual and community behaviour. Religious leaders are at the juncture where religion, science, technology, culture, morality and human behaviour intersect, including around maternal health, reproductive health and family planning. You are critical to individuals, families and communities.


Allow me to provide some background and history of this initiative. The roles of Muslim religious leaders in family planning were recognized since the beginning of the programme in late 1960s. The roles of  Muslim religious leaders were not  only limited to endorsement of the family planning through fatwas, religious decisions that guide Muslim followers to adopt family planning and use contraception, but also preaching and providing information and education related to family planning.


The two biggest Muslim organizations in Indonesia, Nahdatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah, endorsed fatwas supporting family planning programme in 1968-1969. The Indonesian Council of Ulamas (MUI) in 1970-1980s also endorsed several fatwas related to contraceptive methods;


Nahdatul Ulama, the first biggest Muslim organization also provides support to family planning programme through preaching their followers, and spreading knowledge and information to students in their thousands of Islamic boarding schools;


Muhammadiyah as the second biggest organization has hundreds of hospitals and clinics that provide family planning services. In addition, Muhammadiyah also has thousands of schools and universities that provide family planning information to their students;


Without the support of the Muslim religious leaders, the family planning programme in Indonesia could not have been successful in increasing contraceptive prevalence and eventually bringing down the total fertility rate from 5.6 at the beginning of the programme to 2.3 now (PMA 2020, Supas 2015, and Susenas 2015).


The success of family planning programme through the support of Muslim religious leaders has been shared by Indonesia to other developing countries for some years now. With the support of UNFPA Indonesia, since 2011 the South-South Cooperation on Strategic Partnership with Muslim Religious Leaders has been shared to other developing countries.


South-South and Trilateral Cooperation is now becoming an important modality for partnership in implementing international development programmes especially after the endorsement of Sustainable Development Goals in 2015.


UNFPA would like to work together with the Government of Indonesia to strengthen its South-South and Trilateral Cooperation. One of the efforts is to extend this South South and Triangular Cooperation on Training on Strategic Partnership with MRLs in FP to other members of Organization of Islamic Countries. 


The second effort is sharing Indonesian experience on Harnessing the Demographic Bonus through National/subnational Development Plans/Policies with other developing countries that are experiencing similar demographic transitions;


I would like to challenge this group to go a step further than merely considering this an information sharing series of sessions workshop. I would like to encourage you to ensure that this meeting becomes a game changer to improving family planning information and services in your communities through religious leaders.


I would like to encourage you to develop plans of action to which you hold yourselves accountable – with specific deliverables that you would like to have happen as a result of the experience shared this week. 


The development of an alumni network that you can yourselves connect with each other when you are back home will allow you to continue to share experiences and also to have a venue for further sharing questions and facilitating issues.


UNFPA Indonesia itself will hold itself accountable for reaching out to your UNFPA Country Offices to assist you as well and follow-up.


During this course, the participants are provided with knowledge, information and skills to strategize the partnership with Muslim Religious Leaders in Family Planning. You will be holding discussions, visiting Islamic Schools and Clinics to observe their family planning activities and meetings with local people including local Muslim religious leaders – I hope you enjoy these. 


I wish you a very successful training and look forward to your ideas on how to apply your knowledge and skills in your lovely country, Nepal.


Thank you, Terima kasih. 

Tags: family planning