The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed and exacerbated existing inequalities and discrimination. The world’s most vulnerable, including religious or belief minorities and indigenous peoples, have been disproportionately affected and left with even fewer possibilities for accessing preventative healthcare and treatment if they get sick. Health crises also often lead to an increase in harassment, discrimination and stigmatization of religious or belief communities, especially amongst women and girls. There will be an online discussion of this issue – with the lens of Freedom of Religion and Belief – online, on January 20, 2022
These issues are however not new. The intersection between religion and health has often been tricky and political. Freedom of Religion and Belief has been used to restrict access to healthcare, and yet Freedom of Religion and Belief – which in its essence promotes space for religious and belief communities to enable healthcare access for all and protects people’s different beliefs, including on seeking healthcare – is necessary to reduce inequalities. If governments and societies want to ensure healthy lives and promote the well-being of all (SDG 3), then due attention needs to be given to Freedom of Religion and Belief and those experiencing discrimination, inequality and marginalization because of religion or belief. While Freedom of Religion and Belief may not be the most strategic language to use when raising these issues, overlooking a Freedom of Religion and Belief lens puts ‘leaving no one behind’ at risk.
This Dialogue will provide parliamentarians, faith leaders and influencers and civil society space to look together at the relationship between Freedom of Religion and Belief and health in greater detail. It will explore the role that each can play in addressing the different experiences religious/belief communities have had through the pandemic and the biases that exist in health care access and resourcing. It will also explore the steps that need to be taken to challenge the societal norms that support such biases and discriminatory practices.
This Dialogue is informed by an expert briefing paper on Freedom of Religion and Belief and Health (SDG 3) produced by the Danish Institute for Human Rights as part of the Freedom of Religion and Belief Leadership Network project, of which International Parliamentary Panel of Freedom of Religion and Belief and the Danish Institute for Human Rights are consortium members. The consultation series is also supported by the African Parliamentarians Association for Human Rights (AfriPAHR), Religions for Peace and the #FaithforRights Initiative.
This Dialogue is intended in the first instance for parliamentarians and faith leaders from the 8 Freedom of Religion and Belief Leadership Network project countries (Bangladesh, the Gambia, Ghana, Malawi, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, and Uganda), but it will also be of interest to parliamentarians and faith and belief leaders from across Africa, Europe and South and Southeast Asia.
Bicbic Chua, Executive Director, Catholics for Reproductive Health (C4RH)
Jacek Tyszko, Senior Adviser, Faith Engagement, Joint UN Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS)
Dr Marie Juul Petersen, Senior Researcher, Danish Institute for Human Rights
THURSDAY 20 JANUARY 2022 | 14.00-15.30 (CENTRAL EUROPEAN TIME) | ZOOM
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