Tag Archives: SRHR

What role did women’s groups play in setting the 2030 Agenda?

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Listen to Dinah Musindarwezo, Executive Director of the African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET) talking with IWHC‘s Jessie Clyde about the critical role the women’s movement in Africa played in mobilizing and contributing to the formation of the Sustainable Development Goals, also known as the 2030 Agenda.

“women’s rights organizations felt it was critical to ensure the voices, the realities, the needs and interests of African women and girls inform the next development Agenda”

“women’s groups brought the rights perspectives to the table…as well as inclusion of comprehensive gender equality issues such as ending violence against women, sexual and reproductive health and rights, harmful traditional practices such as female genital mutilation and child marriages, women’s participation and representation in all levels of decision making levels – both public and private”

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PRESS RELEASE: An Appeal to African Leaders: Support Gender Equality in the Sustainable Development Goals Without Reservations

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24th September 2015

For Immediate Release

On the eve of the adoption of the landmark Post-2015 Development Agenda over 140 advocates for the rights of women and girls in Africa are urging their leaders to support targets in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). Indeed, these targets are already in line with existing African commitments that guarantee universal access to a comprehensive package of sexual and reproductive health services.

The two targets in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals call on governments to:

3.7 By 2030, ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes;

5.6 Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights as agreed in accordance with the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome documents of their review conferences.

In a Statement titled African Women & Girls Call on their Governments to Support Gender Equality in Totality in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, advocates note that throughout the negotiation process some African governments have spoken out against inclusion of these targets. This despite all 54 member states of the African Union having adopted and implemented progressive regional commitments on the right to sexual and reproductive health. [1]

Ms. Dinah Musindarwezo of FEMNET said, “We are urging our Heads of State and Government to stand in solidarity with the millions of African women and girls affected by poor sexual and reproductive health outcomes, and explicitly support the SRHR targets 3.7 and 5.6 in the Post-2015 Development Agenda without any reservation.”

 

For more information please contact:

On behalf of SOAWR: Kavinya Makau, kmakau@equalitynow.org and/or Naisola Likimani – likimanin@ipas.org

On behalf of FEMNET:, Dinah Musindarwezo director@femnet.or.ke and/or Rachel Kagoiya: library@femnet.or.ke

[1] Maputo Plan of Action on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (2006); The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (2003) popularly known as ‘Maputo Protocol’; the Common Africa Position (CAP) on the Post-2015 development agenda

STATEMENT: African Women & Girls Call on their Governments to Support Gender Equality in Totality in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

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Kindly add your Organization’s Name and Country to Endorse this Statement

African Heads of State and Government will join their counterparts in New York from 25th to 27th September 2015, to adopt the Post-2015 development agenda currently titled Transforming our World: 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals in a landmark Summit that crowns several years of consultations and negotiations.

As advocates for the rights of women and girls in Africa, we noted with concern that during the negotiation phase several governments, including some African governments, expressed reservations on goals and targets related to sexual and reproductive health and rights.

The African continent has some of the most progressive and inclusive regional instruments on sexual and reproductive health and rights, adopted by all 54 member states of the African Union (AU). These include The Maputo Plan of Action on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (2006) which aims to achieve universal access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services by 2015; The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (2003) popularly known as ‘Maputo Protocol’ which contains explicit provisions on the right to health, including sexual and reproductive health and the Common Africa Position (CAP) developed through wide consultation of different African stakeholders and adopted by the African Heads of State and Government as its united position on the Post-2015 development agenda. Further information on the specific provisions of the above instruments are annexed to this Statement.

Under the leadership and mechanisms of the AU, these instruments have been implemented to various degrees in individual member states, with increasing emphasis on monitoring and accountability.

In the recent concluded African Union Summit in June 2015, convened under the theme “Year of Women Empowerment and Development Towards Africa Agenda 2063”, African Heads of State and Government, re-stated their commitment to sexual and reproductive health and rights by resolving to “ensure that Sexual and Reproductive Health and Reproductive Rights of African women are implemented and mutually accounted for in the existing commitments to women’s reproductive health and rights, as adopted by the African Heads of State in the AU Protocol on the Rights of Women (Maputo Protocol) in 2003, and the Maputo Plan of Action on Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights in 2006.”

Based on the regional commitments above and various national commitments at constitutional, legal and policy level, Africa has made commitments in line with the two key targets on SRHR in the Sustainable Development Goals, namely:

3.7 By 2030, ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes;

5.6 Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights as agreed in accordance with the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome documents of their review conferences.

We therefore urge our Heads of State and Government to stand in solidarity with the millions of African women and girls affected by poor sexual and reproductive health outcomes, and explicitly support the SRHR targets 3.7 and 5.6 in the Post-2015 development agenda without any reservation.

We pledge our support to working with you to make these targets a reality.

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Statement Prepared by:-

SOAWR – Solidarity for African Women’s Rights (www.soawr.org)
A Coalition of 46 organizations drawn from 24 AU states to advance ratification, domestication and implementation of the AU Women’s Rights Protocol as read together with national, regional and international legal frameworks that advance the rights of girls and women in Africa. Equality Now’s Africa Regional Office serves as the SOAWR coalition secretariat and is committed to ending discrimination against girls and women. Contact on behalf of SOAWR, Kavinya Makau, kmakau@equalitynow.org and Naisola Likimani – nlikimani@gmail.com

FEMNET – African Women’s Development and Communication Network (www.femnet.co)
A women’s rights network of 503 African women’s rights organizations and individual gender advocates based in 43 African countries. Contact on behalf of FEMNET, Dinah Musindarwezo director@femnet.or.ke and/or Rachel Kagoiya: library@femnet.or.ke

Click here to Endorse the Statement

Read the Full STATEMENT here

Ending FGM & Harmful Traditional Practices: Engaging Our Religious & Cultural Leaders

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By Otina Kennedy*

In many African communities, cultural leaders are increasingly under pressure to remain relevant in light of increasing awareness and advancements on human rights for women and men.  There are many cultural practices that are in direct conflict with some of the national and regional laws, especially those which focus on the rights of women and girls. Most cultural institutions are male dominated and promote patriarchal tendencies that have remained a major hindrance to social justice and adherence to women’s and girls’ rights.  The greatest challenge is transforming the attitudes of cultural leaders to promote the rights of women, without fear of losing their influence in their communities.

endFGM

Since 2013, FEMNET (African Women’s Development and Communication Network), the Swedish Reproductive Health Organization (RFSU), Masculinity Institute (MAIN) and the Anglican Development Services Mount Kenya East (ADMSKE) have jointly partnered to tap in to the social status and influence religious and cultural leaders to promote sexual, reproductive, health and rights – SRHR for women and girls in Meru, Tharaka Nithi and Homabay counties in Kenya.

The project engages cultural and religious leaders in mobilising and leading their communities towards ending socio-cultural practices deeply-rooted in their communities such as female genital mutilation (FGM) and wife inheritance as a strategy to promote sexual and reproductive rights for women and girls in Tharaka Nithi and Homa Bay counties, respectively.

Using FEMNET’s Men to Men Strategy, the leaders have successfully cultivated an environment for religious and cultural leaders to work together to address FGM. For example, in Meru and Tharaka Nithi, the highly esteemed cultural leaders known as Njuri Ncheke have been openly supporting alternative rites of passage and are giving a consistent message to their communities.

The project has provided a platform where religious and cultural leaders share intelligence on secret ways used in performing FGM. One such tick is the transfer of girls from one village to another to confuse the locals.  From this information, religious and cultural leaders are alert and continuously monitor the influx of non-resident girls into their neighborhoods to ensure they don’t undergo FGM. The national treasurer of the Njuri Ncheke, Mzee Mwamba from Mara, is a traditional male circumciser and gathered this intelligence:

‘One day as I was checking on the medicine used on circumcised boys, I noticed that somebody was using the herbs without my knowledge. Upon investigations, I was informed about some women who were colluding with my assistants to siphon the herbs. I later learned the women were administering the herbs on girls who had been brought in the neighborhood from other communities to undergo FGM. As a trainer of trainers on SRHR, I was embarrassed that this practice was still happening in my backyard.  I reprimanded my assistants and the women involved who later shared the tricks that they use locally to perform FGM. I have gone further to establish a team of scouts who are keeping a watchful eye on girls visiting our area to protect them from FGM. Even though the women who were stealing my herbs committed to stop the practice, I had to report them to the area Chief who is the government representative at the village level to ensure they are known to the authorities for illegal activities.’

Women remain key allies in all the efforts to eradicate FGM. Society has pushed them into believing that FGM is a source of income and status in the community. Women have been pushed to justify FGM as a cultural heritage despite the negative impact the practice has on them directly. Most of the women who mutilate these young girls don’t believe that FGM is illegal and will go an extra mile to mobilise their fellow women to allow their girls to undergo the practice.  “We can easily tell if a girl from a particular family has not been circumcised. Our cultural practice requires that after undergoing FGM, the mother to the girl must organise a dance ceremony for women in the village to  perform songs and dances in praise of the circumcised girl”,  said a woman who performs FGM. Men have continuously blamed women for performing FGM, yet they seldom publicly condemn it. This is a scapegoat used by the men to avoid taking responsibilityon FGM matters. Women should be made to understand the immediate and long term negative impacts of FGM on the girls and on women’s SRHR life.

Article 5 of the Maputo Protocol calls upon State Parties to prohibit “all forms of FGM” through legislative measures and supportive sanctions. Kenya has since come up with an anti-FGM law -“The Prohibition of the FGM Act 2011”. The Act explicitly prohibits female genital mutilation. However, the greatest challenge remains the implementation of law.  The situation gets worse at the community level as some duty bearers accept FGM as sound cultural practice.

In Kenya, the government is represented in every village by administrators who are often picked from the same community. This is aimed at ensuring that they are familiar with the people they are governing. However, they also harbor attitudes that perpetuate negative cultural practices like FGM thereby hindering efforts towards eradicating it.  A case in point is in Katwara village, where a family was free to perform FGM on their girls after paying Kshs. 6,500 (USD 70). The money is shared as follows: the area Chief and Assistant Chief get Kshs. 1,500 (USD 16) each, the village Headman gets Kshs.1,000 (USD 11) and the woman performing the cut gets Kshs. 2,000 (USD 22). When members of the community went to demand an explanation as to why the Chief as a government official was allowing the practice to continue in the village, he became indifferent.” Kila mtu ako na mtoto wake na anaweza kumfanyia kile anachotaka. Sitaki maneno yenu na mkijaribu kutuingilia tutawaroga” (Everybody has their own child and is free to do what they like. I don’t want to engage with you on question and answer anymore. I will bewitch anybody who interferes with us). The Chief has succeeded in intimidating the community members using his position in government. As a government representative in the community, it is unfortunate that he supports a practice that has been outlawed. This scenario is repeated many times over in communities and countries across Africa.

This year, the project partners have purposed to expand the stakeholders’ base to target other members of the community. In the coming months, we will be strengthening the role of women as advocates for the eradication of FGM. Men and boys will also be given a platform to openly voice and demand an end to FGM.  Additionally, the project will undertake advocacy campaigns targeting national and county governments to ensure that the existing national laws are widely known by the citizenry, and are implemented. At national level, the project will share intelligence on the tricks community members are using to procure FGM on young girls with the National Anti FGM Board. The project will work together with the National Police Service to ensure that they are properly trained to handle these cases and that  reported cases are prosecuted as a matter of public interest.  It is sad that FGM is still a problem facing us at this time and age. This is a wakeup call to all of us that a lot more is needed to truly abandon and end FGM in our generation.  There is need for concerted efforts by all – women and men, girls and boys, young and old, government and non-governmental institutions – as well as education, advocacy, outreach, political will and collaboration. This is not just a problem for the few, but for us as a people of Kenya. FGM is wrong. Protect the girl by raising your voice.

Join the campaign: #endfgm.

*Mr Otina Kennedy is the Program Associate (Regional Men to Men Program) at FEMNET.

Review of Maputo Plan of Action

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In 2006 the Special Session of African Union Health ministers adopted the Maputo Plan of Action for implementing the continental Policy Framework on Sexual  and reproductive Health and rights.

After nearly 15 years, the African Union is working with  IPPF Africa Region and a team of experts to review status of its implementation  ahead of 2015.  We would like to have an equally strong CSO perspective and thus invite you to take part in the online survey  whose  findings  will inform the development of a common position in Africa to be considered for inclusion in the new continental policy framework beyond 2015.

See link below just takes about 7-10 minutes share with your networks as widely as you can

The links  ENGLISH and FRENCH version of the online survey  for the Maputo Plan of Action.

Thanks!
Edwinah
EOrowe@ippfaro.org

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(Traduit par Google Translate)

En 2006, la session extraordinaire de ministres de la Santé de l’Union africaine a adopté le Plan d’action de Maputo pour la mise en œuvre du Cadre d’orientation continental pour la santé et les droits sexuels et reproductifs.

Après près de 15 ans, l’Union africaine travaille avec l’IPPF Région Afrique et une équipe d’experts pour examiner l’état de mise en œuvre avant 2015. Son Nous aimerions avoir un point de vue des OSC aussi forte et vous inviter à participer au sondage en ligne ainsi résultats de tuyaux serviront à l’élaboration d’une position commune en Afrique à envisager d’inclure dans le nouveau cadre de la politique Continental-delà de 2015.

Voir le lien ci-dessous prend environ 7-10 minutes juste partager avec vos réseaux aussi largement que vous le pouvez

Les liens VERSION ANGLAISE ET FRANÇAISE de l’enquête en ligne pour le Plan d’action de Maputo.

Merci!​
Edwinah
EOrowe@ippfaro.org

KAMPALA CIVIL SOCIETY POSITION STATEMENT ON POST 2015

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June 25th, 2014

We representatives of women’s rights, faith and community-based, civil society organizations, media and government from over 14 countries across the continent convened to deliberate on ‘Strengthening African Women’s Voices in the Post-2015 Processes’and the Africa We Want and Need.

We recognize that the Common African Position (CAP) has strong commitments to ensure that “No person – regardless of ethnicity, gender, geography, disability, race or other status – is denied universal human rights and basic economic opportunities.” African Heads of State specifically highlighted the inextricable link between gender equality, women’s rights, women’s empowerment and Africa’s structural transformation.

Within the Post-2015 global process, this recognition has led to a dedicated goal on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment. For gender equality and women’s empowerment to be truly transformative, it must be anchored in a human rights framework. In addition to a stand-alone goal, it is essential that women’s rights be a cross-cutting priority within the entire Sustainable Development Goals framework.

The prioritization of women’s rights will ensure that spatial, political, social and economic inequalities are addressed. Furthermore, the redistribution of wealth, power, opportunities and resources is critical for addressing prevalent inequalities between men and women, within and between countries.  In addition, development cannot be achieved without peace, security and accountable governance as clearly articulated in CAP.

We therefore call for your support on the following:-

a)      A transformative goal on gender equality, women’s rights and women’s empowerment;

b)      Recognition, reduction and redistribution of unpaid care work – the burden of care falls disproportionately on women and girls and must be shared among men and women; the State; Private Sector, Communities;

c)       Eliminate all forms of violence and discrimination against women and girls – in policies, laws and practices. This includes the elimination of harmful practices including FGM and early, child and forced marriage;

d)      Universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights; which would address unacceptably high levels of maternal mortality, teenage pregnancies, transmission of STIs, HIV/AIDS

e)     Access to, control over and ownership of resources and assets including land, energy, credit, information and technology;

f)   Mobilize domestic resources through innovative financing such as curbing illicit financial flows, eliminating tax havens, instituting progressive taxation, gender-responsive budgets, reallocating military expenditures and eliminating corruption;

g)    Ensuring gender parity in decision-making, transparent and accountable governance at all levels

h)     Addressing peace as stand-alone goal and also ensure its mainstreaming throughout all other goals with an emphasis on the principles of good governance and rule of law.

We urge you to keep the spaces open for meaningful CSO engagement in all stages of the formulation, implementation and monitoring of the Post 2015 development framework. We also emphasize the need to mobilize the maximum available resources tomeet existing human rights obligations and ensure the full enjoyment of economic and social rights, following principles of Common but Differentiated Responsibilitiesnon-retrogression for the diversity of actors engaged in development, especially women’s organizations and movements. As CSO representatives and other stakeholders, we are committed to work in partnership with African governments to ensure the realization of the above to deliver an inclusive, participatory and equitable Africa we want and need – not only for the next 15 years but for generations to come. Let this be our legacy.

For more information, contact: communication@femnet.or.ke

 

Africa’s Commitment to SRHR

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By Yvette Kathurima

The conclusion of the Plan of Action on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, also known as ‘Maputo Plan of Action’ therefore stated “African leaders have a civic obligation to respond to the Sexual and Reproductive Health needs and Rights of their people. This Action Plan is a clear demonstration of their commitment to advance Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in Africa.” This decision was communicated in the Decision on the Continental Policy Framework for the Promotion of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in Africa (Doc. EX.CL/225 (VIII) which “ALSO URGES Member States to mainstream SRH in their National Health Programmes by developing linkages between SRH, HIV/AIDS and other primary health care programmes and to draw inspiration from the Continental Policy Framework for the Promotion of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in Africa.”

However, since 2006, there has been significant regression in terms of understanding and implementing policies on SRHR. Most recently, many African states have argued for a redefinition of the term ‘Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR)’ with a preference towards ICPD language that highlighted ‘Sexual and Reproductive Health’ and ‘Reproductive Rights’ usually followed by qualifiers. This is evident in the Common African Position Pillar 3: People Centered Development with states ensuring universal and equitable access to quality healthcare, including universal access to comprehensive sexual reproductive health and reproductive rights (e.g. family planning). This redefinition is problematic as it undermines the importance of sexual rights. Consequently, discussions on bodily integrity and autonomy regarding the right to choose your sexual partner and freedom from sexual violence are disregarded. Additionally, comprehensive sexuality education and supporting the sexual and reproductive health needs of adolescents are overlooked.

*Yvette Kathurima is the Head of Advocacy at FEMNET (African Women’s Development & Communication Network). Connect with her @Wamburay and advocacy@femnet.or.ke