Over 50 senior religious leaders, theological educators, and faith-based HIV activists, including from the International Network of Religious Leaders living with or personally affected by HIV and AIDS, participated in the two-day workshop which was organized by UNAIDS in partnership with the World Council of Churches (WCC) Ecumenical HIV and AIDS Initiatives and Advocacy Southern Africa Regional Office based in Harare. The workshop was convened to acquaint religious leaders with the newly developed toolkit for enhancing male engagement. Participants indicated that they were motivated to engage men and boys within their faith communities and beyond for better health and development outcomes.
Faith leaders were drawn from prominent religious groups including Christian, Islamic, and the African Traditional Religions. They were represented by the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference, Union for the Development of Apostolic Churches in Zimbabwe, Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs in Zimbabwe, and Zimbabwe National Association of Traditional Healers.
UNAIDS and the WCC are continuing with their collaboration and are supporting the rolling out of the male engagement initiative to the different faith communities. The toolkit on effective male engagement for religious leaders will be available for use by the wider community, thereby contributing towards greater uptake of services by men and boys. The goal is to ensure that the motto of “leaving no one behind” in the HIV response and global development agenda is actualized.