23 June 2014-In Zanzibar, Muslim religious leaders have a key role in the shaping of societal attitudes. Unfortunately, the same leaders are often viewed as potential obstacles to family planning. For this reason, AWLN member Dr. Hanuni Sogora has taken the time to better understand their knowledge, attitudes and beliefs about family planning and how they differ from those held by the general public.
“Islam isn’t against family planning,” she concludes, “It was used thousands of years ago, during the time of the prophets”
This is why Dr. Sogora and fellow AWLN member Asma Ramadhan sought out Dr. Issa Ziddy to produce Uislamu na Uzazi wa Mpangilio, which means “Islam and Family Planning.” The book is a guide tailored towards equipping Muslim Religious Leaders (MRLs) with the necessary information and skills to better understand, accept, and support the provision of family planning information and services to better maternal and child health and reproductive health as a whole.
The two AWLN members have focused on improving the family planning and reproductive health landscape on Tanzania’s semi-autonomous island of Zanzibar, which has a rapid population growth of 2.8%. AFP-AWLN priorities are to enhance family planning advocacy in Zanzibar’s regions with low contraceptive prevalence rates. These include Unguja North and Pemba North.
Just two weeks ago, Dr. Hanuni was in Pemba discussing the book with religious leaders. By the end of the meeting, all the religious leaders agreed that Islam isn’t against family planning. The book consists of 23 frequently asked questions about family planning and their answers. The book was published in 2011 with the support of Engender Health.
Dr. Hanuni recognizes the potential that a tool such as this has to de-mystify several topics in family planning. For this reason, AWLN has facilitated the translation of the book into English.
Last year, AWLN members met with Zanzibar’s Minister of Finance, who expressed his conviction to the benefits of their efforts towards improving the accessibility of family planning on the island.