Is our Voices Still Voiceless?

_BSL9604I observed the so called Reproductive Health Right activists/ advocates are still afraid to talk about abortion issues in public. “We should not sound like we are promoting safe abortion. Our action needs to be subtle. This will have good impact on media. Our message won’t be misinterpreted”- one of the Reproductive Health Right Activists.  SERIOUSLY!! You are the one who has good following in your network and outside. You can influence 1000 of people in and around. But you are feared being  misquoted.

I had same observation when we were celebrating third national safe abortion day. To mark Safe Abortion Day- 28th Sept 2017, Reproductive Health Right working group organized a candle light event to remember women who lost lives due to unsafe abortion by lighting candles. There are series of program the working group will be organizing which aim to campaign as a movement to promote universal access to safe, legal and confidential abortion as a women’s health and human rights issue.

We celebrated the candle light event in the most heaped area of Kathmandu where biggest political protests, social campaigns and discussions take place every year. All those discussions are fairly covered in the media and have great impact on readers. Ultimately, this is what we wanted when it comes to media coverage on abortion to spread relevant facts on safe abortion to demystify stigma surrounding the issue. Only 38% of women are aware of legality of abortion in Nepal. It has been 15 years of abortion legalization in Nepal and women are still seeking unsafe abortion resulting into complications. This article gives us a glimpse to real women accessing abortion in Nepal.

I participated in the event too. We had play cards with information on abortion. I requested the team to let’s go outside of the place and display the play cards to general people so that they will be informed on what we have been doing in the Mandala. The team hesitated to do so. It seems like they wanted to completely the event in few seconds sharing information within us and leave the place before someone comes and interrogates on lightening candles. It’s a public place and we are supposed to invite more than 100 people and start interacting with public on abortion being safe and legal in Nepal. Only thing that going around my mind was “Could you please leave to young people? We have much more and effective ideas to make this event memorable. Kindly get us in the board and discuss with.” Upcoming generation should be aware of why abortion needs to be safe, legal and confidential.

All Reproductive Health Right activists are scare of getting into trouble. Or should I called it getting their name in front page of national newspaper associating them with abortion. This is called DOUBLE STANDARD. We are supposed to spread accurate and reliable information on Safe and Legal abortion outside of our network. We, as abortion activists have enough information on abortion being human right. This needs to be replicated to those who are unaware and against safe & legal abortion. The objective of celebrating international campaign on safe and legal abortion is to aware communities, sensitizing media, advocating political parties and reforming unfavorable laws and policies which are barrier for a woman to access her right to healthcare. However, this event was celebrated only in the presence of organizations, partners and stakeholders who are pioneer on advocating for abortion. This in deed won’t support our campaign to make our voice heard. IS OUR VOICES STILL VOICELESS? Obviously yes!

We as abortion activists are not prepared to answer the question “Why are you promoting ABORTION?”. We always try to avoid the questions and most reply “We are not promoting abortion. We are promotion family planning”. As if “family planning” is the solution to prevent abortion incidence. If it was all Government health facilities and NGOs have been promotion free family planning services for many decades now. Why we are not confident answering this simple question. Unless our collective voices won’t advocate for  “Abortion”, the issue will be stigmatized every time.

Last year, we organized similar program in same place lighting candle in memory of women who lost their life due to unsafe abortion. One of the social media group posted saying “What a shame! People are celebrating the issues which kills unborn child”. On sharing the issues with the team working for women’s choice and access to safe abortion, they do not strategy to deal with hate comments/ negative remarks. One of them told, “Don’t worry! This will not make sense.” WHAT? The page has more than 1000K followers, mostly young people. The young people have started supporting the notion ” Abortion is not safe. It should be punishable.” It’s surprising when the activists close their eyes saying these remarks won’t affect the cause. Anti abortion groups are actively working in Nepal and they are not leaving an opportunity to stigmatize abortion. But we are carefree and are not setting strategies to back out those hater calls. Then we, Youth Champions took the initiation and at least try our best to reply positively sharing facts and data. It is important to clear the myths and misconception associated with abortion. If we don’t, this will stigmatize activists like us for advocating for safe abortion.

We need to make more noise to make our voice heard by women and young girls in communities. Around 322,000 women undergo abortion in Nepal every year and more than 186,000 cases are unsafe. Unless our campaign are effective and our messages getting to women and young girls, we won’t be able to reduce unsafe abortion cases. More than 3,000 health professionals have been mobilized in safe abortion service in Nepal. Around 1,100 health facilities have been authorized to carry out the comprehensive abortion care. We need to shout-out in all possible ways to aware people about safe and legal abortion sites and these sites providing safe, legal, confidential and free abortion service which is carried out by trained and qualified health professionals.

Advertisements

Connection Between SDGs and Safe Abortion

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is a new road map to improve the lives of people throughout the world over the next 15 years. Sexual and Reproductive Health & Rights issues are currently featured on the SDG agenda expands their presence at both the global and national levels, by establishing SRHR specific indicators to measure progress toward the SDGs.

For the field of SRHR, the SDGs include several relevant goals and targets such as those related to health, education and gender quality. The goals and targets encompass many key aspects of SRHR, including access to SRHR services, comprehensive sexuality education, ensure reproductive rights, achieve gender equality as a matter of women’s and girl’s human rights, and the ability to make decisions about one’s own health. The SDGs are ambitious in their size and scope, consisting of 17 goals and 169 targets that are applicable to all countries equally, and take into account the economic, social and environmental challenges of our world.

The major component of SDGs SRHR related target is to advance women’s access to safe and legal abortion, in accordance with the new SDGs focused on health and gender equality.

SDGs Targets By 2030:

TARGET 3.1: By 2030, reduce the global maternal mortality ratio less than 70 per 100,000 live births: The 2030 target calls for a two-thirds reduction in maternal mortality, based on the latest estimate for the maternal mortality ratio globally, at 210 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. This is well known facts that leasing cause of maternal deaths is unsafe abortion. A report by the United Nations Secretary-General in 2013 highlighted that numbers of unsafe abortion will continue to increase unless women’s access to safe abortion and contraceptives are questioned. Unsafe abortion is entirely preventable through ensuring women’s access to effective contraception together with safe and legal comprehensive abortion care in all regions, countries and among poor, young and vulnerable women. Nepal has announced free abortion service in 2015, and yet not implemented. This decision will definitely push the nation to achieve the target to reduce maternal mortality by 2030.

TARGET 3.5: By 2030, ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive healthcare services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programs: Contraception is an essential component of family planning and SRH that allows individuals to determine if and when to have a child.

Unmet need among the adolescent and young is particularly high for spacing with 37.5 and 23.3 percent respectively (NDHS 2011).

Ensuring that SRH services are made available along with other basic health care e.g.immunization services or treatment for TB may increase access to care and information, especially for disadvantaged populations, such as adolescents, people with disabilities and those living with HIV. Access of services especially SRH related is difficult due to geographical areas in Nepal. SGDs planning and implementation will help Nepal Government to identify geographical areas where and types of services for which availability is lagging can help better target resources and technical assistance.

Access to safe, legal abortion has been recognized by the global community as an essential intervention in a package of comprehensive sexuality and reproductive health services that should be available to all women regardless of age, ethnicity, gender identity, geographic location, marital status, race, religion, socio-economic status or migrant status. 

Improved SRHR knowledge can help young people make healthy, informed choices about their reproductive loves. Understanding levels of knowledge among adolescents can help identifying gaps in preparing young people for this important part of life.

cpqnr-1xgaakvkf“Only 38% of women know about abortion is legal in Nepal-NDHS 2011. Knowing the adolescent birthrate and whether those births were planned can help quantify challenges facing young people, including their unmet need for contraception and lack of access to education, information and services appropriate for them. For very young adolescents (ages 10-14), early childbearing can be a marker of forced marriage and abuse.”

And also adolescents in particular need universal access to youth-friendly and non-judgmental sexual and reproductive health services that respect their sexual and reproductive health and rights and their rights to confidentiality, privacy and informed consent.

TARGET 5.6: Gender Equality: Lack of gender quality affects almost every facet of life for women and girls around the world. Gender equality includes recognition of women’s autonomy and capacity to make informed and independent decisions about their sexuality and reproduction through laws and policies allowing access to safe and legal abortion. Women’s access to safe and legal abortion is as relevant to gender equality as women’s equal access to education, employment, adequate food and housing.

In order to protect women’s health and lives, it is critical to promote access to safe abortion and to reduce the incidence of and complications from unsafe abortion. Better data collection is necessary in this area to improve the medical and legal environment for providing safe abortion care and to reduce the stigma surrounding the procedure.

The success of key SDGs will depend in significant part on the extent to which important stakeholders-including governments, UN agencies and non-governmental organizations take seriously the specific SRHR targets and fully implement the relevant policies, services and programs to attain them. All the stakeholders should realize that the success of SDGs depend upon women’s & girl’s access to safe and legal abortion in all region equally.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Youth Advocacy Institute is Back: ASAP

Call for Applications: ASAP Youth Champions: The 3rd Advocacy Institute for Safe Abortion Rights

The ASAP Youth Advocacy Institute is back!!  

ASAP invites applications from young persons living and working in Asia to join the 3rdAdvocacy Institute for Safe Abortion Rights to be held in Mumbai, India from 8thto 11th Dec 2014.

The 2nd Youth Institute was conducted in Mumbai, India in September 2013. You can read about it here . You can also read the original blog here.

There is a growing need for young champions to take on the role of promoting, protecting and expanding the sexual and reproductive rights of women, men and youth in Asia. The most challenging of these issues is the right to access safe abortion services. Young people need to be able to challenge conservative interpretations that allow cultural practices to be used to restrict the rights of young people, especially young girls and women.

Understanding the gender and human rights dimensions of this struggle are important in building the capacity to be able to hold governments accountable for fulfilling the rights of their citizens. Building alliances with communities and key stakeholders is possible through the use of social networking platforms as well as off line activities.

This institute will cover the following topics:

  • Social construct of Gender
  • Human rights and women’s rights
  • Sexual and reproductive health and rights
  • Safe abortion access as a human right
  • Understanding relevant laws and policies
  • Values clarification
  • Communication skills including social media
  • Use of Facebook, Twitter and blogs for networking

The Institute will encourage leadership skills and engage in strategic planning to develop ongoing involvement. Participants will have further opportunities to work in close collaboration with ASAP country partners through small grants awarded.

Who you are:

  • You are a young person between 18 and 25 years of age, living and/or working in Asia.
  • You have a working knowledge of English.
  • You have at least 3 years’ experience working with issues of sexual and reproductive health in any capacity and you are passionate about the sexual and reproductive rights of young people.
  • You have a good social network of other young people
  • You have good communication skills and know how to use the Internet and smart phones for Facebook, Twitter and blogs.
  • You believe that every girl and woman should have the right to choose if and when she wants to be pregnant and if she wants to continue a pregnancy or not.
  • You can demonstrate how you will use what you learn at the Institute in your work and how you will continue to participate in follow-up activities

What this institute will be:

  •  An exciting and challenging 4 days with intense interactions!
  • In depth engagement with issues of sexual and reproductive health and rights in Asia from a gender and human rights perspective.
  • Learning how to use communication tools and social networking platforms.
  • An opportunity to interact with other young people from across Asia, for an enriching exchanges and sharing of experiences.
  • A chance to make a difference as a champion in your own country
  • Ongoing networking and mentoring support from the ASAP team beyond the workshop
  • Creation of an alumni network to stay involved with the issues and expand your sphere of influence!

Last date for applications: 15th Sept 2014

Please write to organizer on discussions.asap@gmail.com for application forms and for more information.