Raising our Voices: Global Campaigning for SRHR

by Women's Global Network for Reproductive Rights
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Raising our Voices: Global Campaigning for SRHR
Raising our Voices: Global Campaigning for SRHR
Raising our Voices: Global Campaigning for SRHR
Raising our Voices: Global Campaigning for SRHR
Raising our Voices: Global Campaigning for SRHR
Raising our Voices: Global Campaigning for SRHR
Raising our Voices: Global Campaigning for SRHR

2020 has been a very challenging year for all of us. We found ourselves facing a public health crisis that directly impacts on peoples health, economic stability and lives. The COVID-19 pandemic brings about unprecedented challenges that threaten a decline in the developmental gains of many countries. This includes advances made in the arena of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), where progress was never easy to begin with.

As an SRHR activist organization, WGNRR continued our work despite the limitations brought about by the current situation. We work with other SRHR activists, feminists, and allies all over the world to creatively and innovatively respond to the crisis. We highlighted and called on governments and the international community that a rights-based, just, and sustainable approach to the COVID-19 pandemic is critical. We captured stories and experiences of women and girls who had been placed in precarious, even fatal situations. We called on ensuring SRHR information and services to remain essential in the COVID-19 response as the resources and priorities are reallocated to respond to the pandemic.

WGNRR Campaigns

Even before COVID-19, women and girls were already dealing with multiple barriers in accessing SRHR  information and services. The public health crisis exacerbates the barriers of women and girls living in intersecting vulnerabilities, particularly those in contexts with fragile economic and health systems. During the Days of Action, we mobilized, asserted and demanded through a diverse range of actions, from webinars and zoom talks to twitter rallies and chats to live video pitches and photo challenges to online contests, among others.

Using the hashtags #SRHRisEssential #WomensHealthMatters #NoLockdownonRights we highlighted during the May 28 International Day of Action for Women Health that women's health still matters and will always matter as we continue to be needing SRHR services and information with or without a pandemic. 

In September, we sparked conversations with Global South activists to emphasize that access to safe abortion services is crucial to protecting and realizing fundamental human rights - this remains true during the current COVID-19 pandemic. We responded to the global theme on access to telemedicine and self-managed abortion by highligting the lived realities of women from the Global South which are different and diverse, and where access still remains a huge challenge for women especially living in rural areas. 

It was also in September when together with the Philippine Safe Abortion Advocacy Network (PINSAN), we launched a proposed bill to decriminalize abortion in the Philippines. The draft legislation, “Act Decriminalizing Induced Abortion to Save the Lives of Women, Girls, and Persons of Diverse Gender Identities, Amending Article 256-259 of the Revised Penal Code” when passed into law will provide access to safe abortion and avert maternal deaths resulting from unsafe abortion complications. The launch of the proposed bill was a result of the series of consultations with various stakeholders that united in the advocacy to prevent the unnecessary deaths of Filipino women due to unsafe abortion and denial of services. 

During the 16 Days of Action Campaign that started in November 25 until December 10, with the hashtag #SafeinSolidarity we underscored that we find safety in our solidarity in the midst of the crisis. WGNRR launched numerous activities as a contribution to the global campaign. Our activities were sustained actions focusing on raising awareness on gender-based violence and strengthening accountability for all forms of gender-based violence. From November 25 until December 10, we conducted range of activities from webinars, teach-ins, online contests, online concerts, among others.

Young people's SRHR

We conducted an online SRHR bootcamp gathering 15 young people of diverse gender and backgrounds from all over the Philippines. For 3 weeks, the Young People + SRHR Online Bootcamp facilitated training programme on SRHR and basic skills on creative communications. The online bootcamp were offered through modules, videos, presentations, Zoom discussions, and the likes and with reading and weekly assignments that allowed the participants to demonstrate their knowledge creatively. The Bootcamp created spaces for young people’s voices and actions for their SRHR to enable them to advocate for young people’s right to making informed decisions in all matters relating to their sexual and reproductive health, free from discrimination, fear, and violence. They also promote young people’s leadership in demanding for this right. After 3 weeks, a new cohort of young advocates for SRHR was formed where they led online discussions and social media engagements in support of WGNRR's campaigns.

Linking and Learning  

Together with our partners, we conducted learning exchanges on SRHR such as on obstetric violence is systemic and global, against minority communities most impacted by HIV and share advocacy that is being done around the world. We also gathered young people from Indonesia, India, Kenya, Tanzania and the Philippines for a 3-part online discussion series on Young People, Reproductive Justice, and Abortion Rights. A "LEARNING WHY: Safe Abortion and Post-abortion Care, a South to South conversation" with healthcare practitioners and students, and SRHR advocates was held with experts from Kenya and Malaysia discussed the importance of integrating rights-based curriculum in medical schools when teaching abortion. A 6-part #FeministFridays workshops were held to discuss range of topics on SRHR and feminism.

Fundraising campaigns

In January, WGNRR Manila Coordination Office launched a campaign that mobilized support for women and girls affected by Taal Volcano eruption where over 60,000 individuals were affected, most of whom are taking temporary shelters in evacuation centers. Taal Volcano in Batangas, Philippines, about 60 kilometres away from Manila, is one of the country’s most active volcanoes. WGNRR Coordination Office partnered with organisations in conducting relief operations to provide additional sanitary and basic hygiene supplies, including much needed items to address menstrual hygiene.

In November, the Philippines was hit by four typhoons, one of which was super typhoon Rolly (international name: Goni) - considered to be "one of the strongest tropical cyclones to hit Earth so far this year". Twelve regions in the Philippines suffered in the aftermath of the super typhoon, with more than 500,000 families affected, while almost 300,000 families displaced mostly in Southern Luzon, and killing at least 16 people while 3 are still missing. But it was Typhoon Ulysses (international name: Vamco), three typhoons after Rolly, that brought the worst impact to the island of Luzon in the Philippines which hit on November 11. The succession of typhoons this month caused the worst floods in northern Luzon as the Cagayan river rose quickly reaching its critical spilling level that ultimately led to the flooding in Isabela, Cagayan including Tuguegarao City. At least 1.1 million people were affected, more than 80,000 remain displaced. As of November 17, there are 73 recorded deaths, 24 injured and 19 missing due to typhoon Ulysses. WGNRR and its partner organizations provided humanitarian response especially ensuring access to sexual and reproductive health services in the typhoon-affected areas as they rebuild their homes.

 

New staff members
We welcomed Danica Magtubo as Youth SRHR Officer, Maria Luisa as Finance and Admin Assistant, Shirphrah Gold Belonguel our SRHR Advocacy and Communications Officer, Vonna Vista our new Graphic Designer and Sarryna Gesite the Networking Officer

Most of the planned activities were adjusted to adapt with the mobility restrictions. We utilized new tools and maximized online spaces to conduct our activities. We cannot emphasize enough the importance of our partners and allies—from global, regional and local organizations to individual advocates and activists—in ensuring SRHR to remain essential during the health crisis.

Another year has passed with satisfying achievements involving our partners, allies and members. We are grateful for all the support that our members, partners, donors and partners have provided. We thank grassroots women and girls for being the reason, inspiration and motivation for the work that we do.

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PINSAN Planning Meeting (pre-COVID 19)
PINSAN Planning Meeting (pre-COVID 19)
WGNRR, as a Philippine-based SRHR network, established and coordinates the Philippine Safe Abortion Advocacy Network (PINSAN). PINSAN is a network of human rights advocates including representatives from women and human rights organizations, lawyers, and youth networks openly working on the issue of unsafe abortions as a public health issue using feminist and human rights standards. For the past five years, PINSAN has been undertaking initiatives to Destigmatize, Demystify and Decriminalize abortion in the Philippines.
We are happy to share that PINSAN has finally initiated the nationwide online Stakeholders' Consultation on the Bill to Decriminalize Abortion in the Philippines. Since August, we have already conducted consultations attended by almost 150 individuals and organizations from diverse backgrounds i.e. community organizations, human rights groups, legal organizations, youth groups, government officials, students, health care providers, individual advocates, representatives from the women's rights, SRHR, youth rights, children's rights organisations, among others. Through these consultations and inputs from the various stakeholders, PINSAN has further strengthened the proposed bill to reflect the pressing needs and concerns of persons who can be pregnant and may seek access to safe abortion services. We will continue the consultations with various sectors and stakeholders including government representatives until the public launch of the bill on September 28 International Safe Abortion Day.  
Context

The Philippines remains to be one of the countries in the world with the most restrictive laws on abortion. The restrictive abortion law results in women undergoing unsafe abortions. In 2012 alone, 610,000 Filipino women induced abortion, over 100,000 women were hospitalized, and 1,000 women died due to unsafe abortion complications. Each year, complications from unsafe abortion is one of the five leading causes of maternal death—between 4.7% – 13.2%— and a leading cause of hospitalization in the Philippines. 

These Filipino women who induce abortions are representative of a majority of Filipino women – poor, Roman Catholic, married, with at least 3 children, and have at least a high school education. Poor women comprise 66% of those who induce abortion, using riskier abortion methods, thus disproportionately experiencing severe complications, making abortion a social justice issue. Moreover, 1 in 9 women cites rape as their reason for inducing abortion. There are no laws to protect such women from unwanted pregnancies. 

Further, the 1930 Revised Penal Code provision (Art. 256-259 of the Revised Penal Code) penalizing women who induce abortion and those who assist them has never stopped women inducing abortions nor has it ever reduced the number of women seeking abortions. Due to the harmful stigma on abortion, women are subjected to physical and verbal abuse, harassment, threat, intimidation, and discrimination when seeking medical treatment, regardless of the circumstances surrounding the abortion. Even healthcare service providers unlawfully deny post-abortion care to women despite the laws and policies that guarantee women’s rights to post-abortion care. 

About 85% of the countries around the world allow abortion. Asian countries including predominantly Catholic and Muslim countries have liberalized their abortion laws. In the Philippines, it is high time to decriminalize this antiquated and restrictive law on abortion. The Philippine government must comply with its international human rights obligations to decriminalize abortion to ensure women's access to safe abortion and post-abortion care and respect, protect, and fulfill their rights to life, health, equality and non-discrimination, and freedom from cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment. 






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Dear WGNRR supporters,
The COVID-19 pandemic brings about unprecedented challenges that threaten a decline in the developmental gains of many countries. This includes advances made in the arena of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), where progress was never easy to begin with. 
This May 28, International Day of Action for Women's Health, we invite you to join us in calling on governments and the international community to ensure a rights-based, just, and sustainable approach to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The current global crisis resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic directly impacts women’s and girls’ access to sexual and reproductive health services. Although early reports reveal that more men are dying as a result of COVID-19, the health of women generally is adversely impacted through the reallocation of resources and priorities, including sexual and reproductive health services. Even before COVID-19, women and girls were already dealing with multiple barriers in accessing SRHR  information and services. This public health crisis exacerbates the barriers of women and girls living in intersecting vulnerabilities, particularly those in contexts with fragile economic and health systems, as financial, technological, and human resources are diverted to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The provision of sexual and reproductive health services, including safe abortion and gender-based violence related services, is central to ensuring the health, rights, and well-being of women and girls. SRH services and commodities should not be overlooked in times of crisis; women continue to require comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services. Women’s access to essential SRHR information and services remains critical in responding to COVID-19. Governments should continue to prioritize the delivery of essential SRH services to women and girls. Any public health strategy that is not mindful of human rights, including sexual and reproductive health and rights, will not only be inept and unsustainable but will also create an enabling environment for grave human rights violations. 

TAKE ACTION! We want to make sure your voice is heard! JOIN US NOW! 
Here are ways you can get involved:

SPEAK OUT
Host online awareness-raising activities on the need for a holistic, inclusive, sustainable, and human rights-based approach to women’s health, including SRHR for all women and girls in all their diversities.

SHARE HERSTORIES
Contribute to the making of #LockdownHerstories Booklet. Send us your personal, collective, and community experience, actions, concerns/issues/challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. Send your stories to may28campaign@gmail.com.

MOBILIZE
Engage other partners and allies in the May 28th Campaign.

Share with us your campaign plans for May 28th to may28campaign@gmail.com. We will make sure to inform others about your online activities!


ADVOCATE

Send your specific recommendations to government bodies in charge of COVID-19 response. You can find statement templates on the May 28th website later this month!
 

SPREAD THE WORD

Download, print and distribute the Day of Action materials among your allies, partners, colleagues, and all those who support women’s right to health and SRHR. 

Spread the news about the Global Day of Action and tell the world about what you are doing on this day through social media – Facebook and Twitter. 

Use the following hashtags #SRHRisEssential #WomensHealthMatters #NoLockdownonRights #May28. Check www.may28.org for more ideas about social media engagement and sample tweets!


Visit and share www.may28.org and learn more about the campaign and learn what you can do in your community!


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WGNRR Board Meeting
WGNRR Board Meeting

2019 has been busy year WGNRR! We are happy to announce that we held a joint WGNRR Africa and WGNRR Global Board meeting in Tanzania where we set-out the new strategic direction of the network. The final document will soon be available on our website.

We are excited to welcome our new staff members in our Africa office, Matilda Deus as Youth Officer, Numbilya Kiseko as Advocacy Officer and Brenda Mageda Esolyo joined WGNRR Africa as the Regional Advocacy and Campaigns Coordinator. She is also the focal person for our Male Involvement project. Manila Team was joined by Abigail Roa Matres as Programme Assistant. Manila team will soon be joined by our new Youth Coordinator, Finance and Admin Assistant, Advocacy and Communications Specialist and Networking Officer.

We were also present at the global and regional advocacy spaces. During our pre-ICPD +25 Summit strategy session, we established the SHE Acts Alliance (Strong, Harmonized and Empowered Advocacy Alliance) in Nairobi, Kenya. The Alliance is a grassroots-led network that strengthens and develop effective strategies to advance SRHR advocacy and campaigning across African countries and contexts. Please find SHE Acts Alliance statement here: http://wgnrr.org/grassroots-leaders-pre-icpd25-summit-gathering-statement/

In her presentation at the Nairobi Summit concurrent session on Humanitarian Case Studies Workshop, our Executive Director Marevic Parcon highlighted the importance of comprehensive SRHR services, including abortion services, in humanitarian and conflict situations.

Our Asia Regional Coordinator, Teta Sibugon, participated in the Asia Pacific Regional Review on Beijing +25. In her intervention at the CSO Forum, Teta said, "one of the momentous things that we have today is young people speaking on safe abortion rights and having the space to talk about this issue even with the global pushback on abortion rights."

In Africa, Mageda Esolyo participated in the Africa Regional Beijing +25 Review in Addis Ababa. She joined the young feminist caucus. The young feminist statement urged the African regional Beijing+25 outcome to uphold the principles that recognize the diverse needs of young women and girls without discrimination of any kind.

Recently, our Manila Coordination Office launched a campaign to mobilize support for women and girls affected by Taal Volcano eruption where over 60,000 individuals were affected, most of whom are taking temporary shelters in evacuation centers. Taal Volcano in Batangas, Philippines, about 60 kilometres away from Manila, is one of the country’s most active volcanoes. WGNRR Coordination Office partnered with organisations in conducting relief operations to provide additional sanitary and basic hygiene supplies, including much needed items to address menstrual hygiene. We still need your help.

SHE Acts Alliance
SHE Acts Alliance
Teta Sibugon in Bangkok for Beijing +25 Review
Teta Sibugon in Bangkok for Beijing +25 Review
Call for donations
Call for donations
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WGNRR mobilised its members, partners, allies, governments, private sector, communities, men and boys, and the entire SRHR movement to take action during September 28 is International Safe Abortion Day.

The theme for this year's campaign is Abortion is Healthcare. Access to safe abortion is an essential part of women’s lives and health, and right to bodily autonomy. Unintended and unwanted pregnancy and abortion are part of women’s lives: 25% of all pregnancies worldwide ended in an induced abortion,4.7-13.2% of maternal deaths are attributable to unsafe abortion, most in the poorest countries 25 million abortions each year are unsafe, and 7 million women and girls end up in hospital needing treatment for complications of unsafe abortions. With 25 million unsafe abortions every year globally, and thousands of women and girls dying making unsafe abortion a serious public health problem, 25 years after the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Programme of Action committed governments to making unsafe abortion a history.

In Tanzania, WGNRR Africa held a stakeholders meeting for reduction of maternal mortality and morbidity in the. country.  The event provided a platform for stakeholders to increase understanding and reflect about the toll of unsafe abortion, explored the commitment towards achieving the SDGs #3, exchange ideas, share best practices overcoming challenges contributing to maternal mortality and morbidity in Tanzania, formulate recommendations for effective and comprehensive strategy to reduce MMR.

In Manila, Philippines, WGNRR, Philippine Safe Abortion Advocacy Network - Pinsan, Sigma Delta Pi Sorority UP Manila, UP Manila CAS Student Council and SheDecides Philippines event faced with a challenge when the public forum on abortion has been postponed due to the sudden cancellation of the use of the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) Science Hall. WGNRR and its partners were saddened that the public event did not push through during the day of action, as it would have provided an opportunity to highlight the public health issues related to unsafe abortions in observance of the Global Day of Action on #28September (International Safe Abortion Day). It would have also provided a safe space for all stakeholders to have an open dialogue on the different personal and institutional views, opinions, religious and moral beliefs, biases, and prejudices towards abortion in the country. Despite the setback, WGNRR and partners were still able to continue the conversation around abortion in the context of women's rights, reproductive rights, human rights, and public health with our partners, young people, and advocates in UPM.

 

About September 28

September 28 is International Safe Abortion Day is part of campaigning and advocacy activities undertaken to build an international movement for universal access to safe and legal abortion, from a human rights and reproductive justice approach. 28 September has been a regional campaign for the decriminalization of abortion in LatinAmerica and the Caribbean since 1990, and in 2011 SRHR activists from all over the world has taken on 28 September as a Global Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion. In 2018, Women's Global Network for Reproductive Rights, International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion, Campaña 28 de Septiembre LAC (Campaña Nacional por el Aborto Legal, Seguro y Gratuito-Argentina), Asia Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW), and Asia Safe Abortion Partnership (ASAP), with the support of many other partners, jointly launched International Safe Abortion Day as the official day for 28 September campaigning activities.

For more information, visit www.september28.org

Stakeholders event in Tanzania
Stakeholders event in Tanzania
Manila event on #AbortionIsHealthcare
Manila event on #AbortionIsHealthcare
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Women's Global Network for Reproductive Rights

Location: Quezon - Philippines
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @WGNRR
Project Leader:
Gill Carter
Quezon, Dilman Philippines
$3,721 raised of $5,000 goal
 
38 donations
$1,279 to go
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