With CCIH, I have spent the past five years focused on creating a space where a wide spectrum of faith voices feel comfortable discussing their concerns about FP. We have developed over 10 publications addressing various concerns to communicate, educate, and empower our membership to educate others on family planning. I’ve served as a main convener of religious groups at the ICFP faith pre-conference and helped develop the ICFP faith statement supporting FP. This sets the stage for continued awareness raising throughout faith communities, NGOs, and the media. In addition, I’ve created an annual advocacy day for CCIH members to educate the U.S. government on the work faith-based organizations are doing to reduce maternal and child mortality, which includes family planning.
As a public health nerd, I’m all about prevention because it saves a lot of money and is the best way to address health problems; prevention is the best cure. As a woman of faith, I believe that for women, in consultation with doctors and partners, to make the best FP decision requires us to talk about our how our bodies work and what we do with our bodies.
There is the challenge of the misconception that Christians are against Family Planning. It has taken countless conversations over the course of years to overcome misconceptions and experiences others have had with Christians that have turned them away from partnering with Christian communities. I see progress, but there is still much more work to be done, relationships to develop, and dialogues to foster to continue to overturn this perception.
In the US, the biggest challenge in FP is misconception or lack of correct information about what FP actually is and isn’t, which often makes FP a “taboo” issue. Woman need access to FP education & services, to live in an environment in which she is valued, and willingly engages in sexual activity (vs. sexual coercion, sexual & gender based violence, or child marriage). And, it’s not just about women. Men need to be educated on these issues and a part of the solution too.
I want to continue collaborating with partners all over the world to engage faith communities as equal partners. I want to see faith communities at the table from the beginning, not just brought in at the end, and leading conversations and partnerships. I want to see faith communities addressing the topic of FP and other hard issues related to FP, like child marriage and sexual & gender-based violence. I want our communities to turn towards hard conversations and not away from them.