Leaders of Christian, Muslim and Jewish faith–based organizations will convene in Minsk, Belarus, on 31 August–2 September, on the occasion of the Europe and Central Asia Faith–Based Organizations Forum on Population and Development.  The Forum will focus on enhancing cooperation between faith–based organizations (FBOs) and UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, in order to address important population issues such as maternal health and gender–based violence.

Leaders of Christian, Muslim and Jewish faith–based organizations will convene in Minsk, Belarus, on 31 August–2 September, on the occasion of the Europe and Central Asia Faith–Based Organizations Forum on Population and Development.  The Forum will focus on enhancing cooperation between faith–based organizations (FBOs) and UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, in order to address important population issues such as maternal health and gender–based violence.  Forum participants will develop a platform for future FBO–UNFPA cooperation to address priority population and development issues in Europe and Central Asia, during the three–day event.

The gathering, convened by UNFPA, with the participation of other United Nations agencies, is the first meeting of faith–based organizations and the Fund in Europe and Central Asia.  This Forum is the outcome of regional consultations hosted by UNFPA in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, the Middle East and North Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean and the Global Faith–Based Organizations Forum, which took place in Istanbul, Turkey in October last year.  A number of African, Middle Eastern, Latin American and Asian participants of the regional and global faith–based forums will also gather in Minsk to share interregional experience and lessons learned in the spirit of South–South and  East–West exchanges of experience.

UNFPA’s Executive Director, Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, has noted that the Fund began partnerships with faith–based organizations and religious leaders over three decades ago in efforts to promote development. Today, Ms. Obaid points out that UNFPA has over 400 partnerships with organizations in more than 100 countries. She adds: “There is a need to dialogue through joint action, to reach ends that ensure the human rights and dignity of all human beings.” These partnerships,  ”are about how we can work together to ensure every birth is wanted, every pregnancy is safe, every young person is free of HIV, and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect.”

The opening ceremony for Europe and Central Asia Faith–based Organizations Forum will bring together over 70 religious leaders, academics and parliamentarians from the region.  

WHEN: 9.30 a.m., 31 August 2009
WHERE: Hotel Victoria, Minsk, Belarus

For more information, please contact:

Ms. Olga Belorusova – UNFPA Belarus Office: + 375 29 178 67 00 /+ 375 17 227 4527

Ms. Raquel Wexler – UNFPA Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia: +1 212 297 5073

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