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UNFPA undertook to work with the Ministry of Hajj and Religious Affairs, to tackle the pervasive problem of gender based violence in Afghan society. Recognizing the role of religion in the essentially Islamic society in Afghanistan, UNFPA adopted the strategy of engaging with Islamic scholars, whose significance in influencing social norms and opinions cannot be undermined.

The high points of UNFPA's achievements in partnership with MOHRA during 2010 and 2011, were in two areas -- the mobilization and training of religious leaders for prevention of Gender Based Violence from the perspective of Islamic teachings from the Quran and ‘Ahadiths' (life and teachings of the Holy Prophet Muhammad), and the development of the Healthy Family Fortunate Society, book to be used for raising awareness of religious scholars and leaders and common people regarding the position of Islam on issues related to all kinds of violence against women.

The UNFPA and MOHRA partnership has enabled the training of ‘Ulema' (Islamic scholars) in the Northern provinces and in two districts of Bamyan and Paghman district of Kabul, in the past two years. The draft of the Healthy Family Fortunate Society book was completed by six authors under the direct supervision of the Ministry, and was formally evaluated and approved by the 1000-year-old Al-Azhari University's faculty of Islamic scholars, after extensive academic discussion and debate with the authors in September 2011.

The books will be used primarily by religious scholars to prepare sermons in the mosques, and as teaching manual in Islamic schools, and will also be available for the general public.