Themen und Ressourcen
Culture matters
Kultur, Umwelt und Gesellschaft

Culture matters

This publication maps partnerships between UNFPA and faith-based organizations in the areas of population and development, including human rights, reproductive health, women's empowerment, adolescents and youth, humanitarian assistance, and HIV and AIDS. It provides an analysis of best practices and lessons learned in faith-based partnerships around the world, and in addition, suggests key resources on faith-based engagement and organizations.

The objectives of this publication are: • To document partnerships between UNFPA and faith-based constituencies in the areas of reproductive health and population • To assess the outcomes, lessons learned and best practices of faith-based partnerships around the world • To share further resources on faith-based engagement and organizations

The mandate of UNFPA is to promote the rights of each woman and man, young and old, in order to enable each and every individual to have the benefits of a life fully lived with health and equal opportunities through that person’s life cycle. UNFPA supports the efforts of countries in implementing the ICPD Programme of Action through national and regional programmes to contribute to the reduction of poverty by achieving reproductive health and rights, and gender equality. The aim is to ensure that every regnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV and AIDS, and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect.

Over the past 30 years, UNFPA has implicitly incorporated cultural sensitivity into its programming, as it recognizes that people not only are products of their culture but also serve as transformers of it. Culture, within which religion features prominently, is considered a powerful component in ensuring and sustaining human development. More recently, in the past five years, UNFPA has explicitly institutionalized cultural sensitivity approaches as one of its programming tools within the context of a new organizational unit—the Gender, Human Rights and Culture Branch, Technical Division.

Conceptually, culture is understood as the total of all factors that influence the perceptions, comprehension, behaviour and reactions of human beings. Culture is, therefore, not quantifiable, but pervasive. Cultural agents are those who determine, influence and articulate perceptions, attitudes and behaviour. These include intellectuals, authors, artists and media personalities, as well as tribal elders and religious and community leaders. These “agents of culture” are, in many respects, also its guardians, interpreters and transmitters—that is, its gatekeepers. But in a sense, each and every individual is a shaper of the culture in which that person lives—hence the dynamism and complexity of cultures. In contemporary contexts, it can be argued that religious leaders in particular, and faith-based networks in general, constitute some of the most influential cultural gatekeepers and actors. (2008)

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