Indonesia’s exceptional Family Planning Programme has been a huge success in the last four decades, and is now being quoted as a success story around the globe, especially in resource-constrained economies. One key element to this accomplishment was the development of a strategic partnership between the government and Muslim Religious Leaders (MRLs). The continuous engagement of Indonesia’s government with the prominent leaders of religious organisation has yielded several Fatwas (religious decrees) that played an instrumental role in the acceptance of family planning at the community level. Indonesia’s bold national family planning programmes were launched in 1965 and have been pursued since, thus continuing for five decades. The initial impetus for the government family planning program was concerned about rapid population growth and especially the impact for youth and the social impact of the age profile. Indonesia’s program is noted both for successful results — measured in declining fertility and wide acceptance of family planning among Indonesia’s population, and for effective partnerships with religious institutions, especially the large Muslim organisations Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), Muhammadiyah, and the Indonesian Council of Ulemas. Some 75 percent of Indonesians identify with NU or Muhammadiyah. They have been highly influential partners for the government and the program. Women’s religious organisations, generally within the larger organisations, played material roles in securing and sustaining religious support for family planning. Indonesia’s family planning program has faced two important challenges over the years. (1) Sustaining and advancing national goals during a period when decentralisation transformed politics and institutions, and (2) Defining and implementing the respective roles of public and private actors in family planning. Both are currently the topic of active debate. The National Family Planning Coordinating Board (BKKBN) was created in 1967to provide leadership and oversight. The government appreciated from the outset that it needed to include religious leaders in the process. President Suharto contacted one of the leading religious figures, Dr Idham Chalid who led a 1967 workshop that sought the views of religious representatives on family planning. Various panels brought together government representatives and religious leaders of Indonesia’s major traditions; Muslim, Christian, and Hindu and resulted in a pamphlet entitled “Views of Religions on Family Planning.” Haryono Suyono, the Deputy Head of the BKKBN, assembled information on religious leaders’ views on family planning with the objective of minimising any potential offense as the program was launched and expanded. Indonesia is one of the priority countries under FP2020, a global movement that aims to give 120 million more women and girls access to life-saving contraceptives by 2020. This initiative builds on the UN Secretary-General’s Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health (the Global Strategy) launched in 2010, and focuses on the provision of contraceptive information, services and supplies without coercion or discrimination. Drawing from successful engagement with Indonesian MRLs, the National Population and Family Planning Board (BKKBN) and UNFPA have jointly designed a SSC training course for other countries. UNFPA Indonesia’s technical assistance to the State Secretariat and BKKBN-Centre for International Training and Collaboration’s intensive week-long training course is designed to share the Indonesian experience in partnering with Islamic and other faith-based organisations. It highlights Islamic values and teachings as these relate to family planning and reproductive health. Since 2013, five successful training sessions have been conducted with participants from 15 countries. The training provides the participants with information and capacity building to develop strategic partnerships with Islamic-based organisations and Muslim leaders in supporting family planning, and it provides Indonesia with an opportunity to communicate its lessons learnt and best practices. Pakistan faces a daunting challenge. According to initial estimates of Census 2017 with nearly 202 million people, it is currently the world’s sixth largest country and will become the third biggest contributor to world population growth. According to United Nations projections, the Pakistan population will grow to over 380 million by the year 2050, surpassing the United States, Indonesia, Brazil, and Russia to become the world’s third largest country behind India and China. Notwithstanding the difficulty confronting family planning programmes, there is evidence of behaviour change among the Pakistani society. In 2015, with the collaboration of UNFPA, the population council organised a landmark meeting, in which eminent Islamic scholars from across the country endorsed a declaration allowing the use of all reversible family planning methods that can help families better plan the timing and spacing of their pregnancies in a bid to avoid maternal deaths and improve the overall health of families. Pakistan should also strengthen organisational and management issues of family planning programmes to achieve its coverage and effectiveness; and other relate to changing approach to delivering family planning services and improving the overall status of women. The most important of actions suggested include expanding family planning concept beyond FP to reproductive health services, generating positive attitude among high public and political officials, organising effective media campaign through celebrity endorsements, improve existing service quality, involving men by providing vasectomy and other reproductive services, strong emphasis on women social status and education, involving religious leaders’ voice to endorse the programmes and the role of donor agencies to continue with their responsibility to support a struggling economy and a young nation. The writer is a freelance journalist and associated with the Health and Development Sector and can be reached twitter @mqesar or email@example.com Published in Daily Times, July 11th , 2017.