In the decade since the International Conference on Population and Development, UNFPA has initiated culturally sensitive approaches in diverse cultural and social contexts. Through this work, a number of common themes have emerged, which are examined in more detail in the case studies themselves. For example, we have learned that:
Decades of UNFPA experience with the faith-based sector have gone into producing these Guidelines for Engaging Faith-Based Organisations as Cultural Agents of Change. They outline a framework of partnerships, including principles, the strategies and operationalization at national, regional and global levels.
Gaining the support of agents of change and local power structures is often necessary before engaging effectively with communities. One way to do this is by presenting evidence-based data on issues of concern to the community, such as the health of mothers and children, the impact of violence against women, and the prevalence of HIV/AIDS. Such information can help defuse potential tensions by focusing on the shared goal of people's well-being. Once trust develops, discussions can be expanded to more sensitive issues.
Avoiding value-laden language can help create neutral ground in which understanding and support for programme objectives become possible.
Carefully developed advocacy campaigns, closely tailored to the cultural context in which they are launched, can make it easier to deal with sensitive subjects. These campaigns should reflect a clear understanding of the views of both allies and potential adversaries, and draw from sources that are popular within a given culture. In Uganda, for example, the use of African music, poetry and drama has proven to be an effective way to reach a wide audience. In Muslim contexts, using Islamic references in advocacy campaigns has helped to dispel suspicions and promote local ownership.