U.S. Sponsors Bangladesh Conference for Religious and Community Leaders on Advancing Development in Asia

Mar 19, 2010, 18:15 ET from U.S. Agency for International Development

DHAKA, Bangladesh, March 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is sponsoring a regional conference in Dhaka on "the role of religious and community leaders in advancing development in Asia," March 21-24, and 70 religious and community leaders from fourteen countries across Asia are expected to participate.

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"USAID values the work that community and religious leaders are doing on the ground every day to create tangible improvements in people's lives," says USAID's Acting Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator for Asia. "We recognize that these leaders of influence are in a unique position to be able to promote and sustain positive changes in the social norms, attitudes, and behaviors that affect development."

The conference, co-hosted by the Asia Foundation, aims to facilitate dialogue and exchange of experiences among religious and traditional leaders of multiple faiths, political actors, and development practitioners. State Minister of Religious Affairs Advocate Al-Haj Muhammad Shahjahan Mia, U.S. Ambassador James F. Moriarty and Special Assistant to President Obama and Executive Director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships Mr. Joshua DuBois will inaugurate this key regional conference.

The conference is an important aspect of President Obama's Global Engagement Initiative to work with Muslim-majority countries to advance democracy and development. This conference is also a continuation of the U.S. Government's effort to engage religious and community leaders in Bangladesh through its "Leaders of Influence" program.

Conference participants will share ideas on the critical roles that traditional leaders of society, including religious and community leaders, play in promoting good governance, gender equality, health and family planning, creating income opportunities, and in disaster preparation and response. To date more than 15,000 leaders have received training through this program on development issues affecting their communities.

Countries participating in this year's conference include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Thailand, Timor-Leste, and Tajikistan.

For more information please visit http://www.leadersofinfluence-asia.org/. For more information about USAID's programs, please visit: www.usaid.gov.  

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SOURCE U.S. Agency for International Development