Group of African people gathered for a group photo outdoors in a garden.

Speaking on behalf of religious leaders from diverse communities of faith in East and Southern Africa, Canon Gideon Byamugisha said that the toolkit was a valuable resource that will equip religious leaders to assist adolescents and young people in the region to flourish. He said, With this toolkit, we as religious leaders have been empowered to have transformative and life giving conversations with adolescents and youth in our families, institutions, communities, nations and regions.”

The toolkit complements the Handbook on Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights for religious leaders. It provides guidelines to religious leaders and parents to facilitate dialogue with young people on issues that are often experienced as challenging.

The launch took place during a consultation with religious leaders on their contribution to the revamped East and Southern African Ministerial Commitment on comprehensive sexuality education and sexual and reproductive health and services for adolescents and young people in the region.

On behalf of UNESCO, Dr Patricia Machawira, regional advisor for Health and Wellbeing, thanked the religious leaders for their passion and commitment to the vibrancy of adolescents and youth in the region. Going forward, we will intensify our collaboration with religious leaders to promote sexuality education and access to sexual and reproductive health and services for young people,” she said.

Participants from various countries expressed their appreciation for the toolkit, as well as the opportunity to contribute towards the renewed Ministerial Commitment. They reiterated the critical role that religious leaders play in their communities. They indicated that in many instances, religious leaders served as frontline personnel for adolescents and young people when they encounter challenges in life.