Advocating for Reproductive and Sexual Health and Rights
CHSJ has provided intensive support to state level advocacy on reproductive and sexual health in a number of states including Bihar, Orissa, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, etc. In 2009, CHSJ commissioned an external consultant to conduct a review of the project “Advocating for Reproductive and Sexual Health and Rights” to identify not only whether the project outputs and outcomes were met, but to understand the nature of CHSJ’s partnership support at the state level and ways to strengthen the same. The review report is here.
CHSJ collaborated with University of Washington (US) and SAHAYOG to organize an 8-day training on Advocacy for Reproductive and Sexual Health Rights, at Naukuchiatal, Uttarakhand in August 2008. A range of participants from government and donor organisations to those working at the grass root levels attended the training.
Stakeholders Consultation on One Year of NRHM – CHSJ organized a two-day consultation in 2006 on Building Creative Partnerships for Fulfilling Reproductive Health Needs and Rights. Civil society members from 10 states, as well as experts, donors, international organisations and government officials attended the event.
In 2006-07, CHSJ organized a series of consultations across the eight EAG states, disseminating information about NRHM and RCH. These consultations demonstrated the status of the programmes in the various states as well as the key reproductive health issues.
Population, Gender and Reproductive Health – CHSJ has been conducting training programmes for senior bureaucrats across the country in collaboration with the Population Foundation of India at National Institute of Administrative Research (Lal Bahadur Shastri Academy, Mussourie) and in Bihar with the Administrative Training Institute.
Gains and Gaps- ICPD + 15: A Civil Society Review in India
In November 2008, CHSJ along with SAHAYOG and Population Foundation of India organized a meeting to discuss what can be done collectively to commemorate the 15th anniversary of International Conference on Population & Development (ICPD) at Cairo in 1994. There was an overwhelming consensus to conduct a civil society review process to take stock of the gains and gaps in terms of ICPD promises. CHSJ, honouring the strong requests by all the organisations, agreed to host the secretariat for Gains & Gaps – ICPD+15: A Civil Society Review in India. The process aims to build consensus among various stakeholders on issues around population and development and to review progress on different indicators of the ICPD PoA. Some of the key stakeholders who have been associated with this review process include the following:
Civil society: community-based organisations and federations, organisations and networks working on related themes e.g. women’s groups, health groups, youth groups, Dalit groups, networks working on maternal health, family planning, abortion rights, sexual health and rights, sex workers and sexual minorities, HIV/AIDS, etc, working both at the national and state levels.
International organisations – UN agencies, bilateral organisations
Government at the national and state levels
Academics from reputed institutes across India
A Steering Committee comprising of representatives from a diverse set of organisations, including CHSJ, has planned and conducted the review process. The Secretariat created and runs a website (www.icpd15india.org) devoted to the review process. As Secretariat, CHSJ prepared 12 briefing sheets in English and Hindi on the various themes related to the ICPD Po A and held the following meetings in 2010-11:
Consultation on Declining Sex Ratio was jointly organized with Women Power Connect, SUTRA & Voluntary Health Association of Punjab. More than 40 participants from women's and health groups, media organisations and other CSO’s from Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Delhi and Himachal Pradesh were present. The consultation provided a platform to address the issue of the declining sex ratio within the context of gender discrimination and to raise concerns about the systemic gaps in the states’ enforcement of the PCPNDT Act.
National Consultation on Addressing the Concerns of the Youth was held in collaboration with CHETNA, Gujarat. It was attended by 64 participants including grassroots activists, NGO workers and students working on youth issues. The objective was to place concrete recommendations before the government on the needs, aspirations and rights of the youth.
HIV & AIDS – A meeting of 16 participants working on HIV & AIDS, sexual minorities, public health, women's issues and human rights was co-organized with NAZ Foundation (India) in New Delhi, to discuss ways of integrating and building bridges between HIV & AIDS activism and broader health rights issues and ways to move forward.
National Coalition on Population and Development
The Indian Parliament discussed population issues for the first time in 33 years in August 2010. In this context, it was necessary to develop a strategy to ensure that the policy interest in family planning does not become a coercive force but an opportunity for young people to enjoy their reproductive rights with access to information and services. As a member of the National Coalition on Population and Development, CHSJ conducted a set of activities for generating awareness and developing a campaign to mobilise public opinion across different constituencies and stakeholder groups. These activities included:
A set of eight briefing sheets on population and development in Hindi and English written and disseminated among concerned stakeholders.
A paper titled, Family Planning and Contraceptive Use in India: New Priorities, New Approaches.
A review of key arguments made for and against population stabilization during the Parliament debate held on August 5, 2010. Also prepared documents on questions raised in Rajyasabha & Parliament during 15th Parliamentary session.
Roundtable on Contemporary Challenges & Opportunities was co-organized with Population Foundation of India (PFI) to identify new opportunities and challenges and to discuss ways of developing a campaign and mobilizing public opinion across different constituencies and stakeholder groups. The roundtable was attended by participants from Bihar, Orissa, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh. More on the Roundtable is here.
Addressing Coercive Population Policies- Jan Adhikar Manch
CHSJ worked with Jan Adhikar Manch (JAM), a network in Bihar that advocates against the two child norm in the state. We supported JAM in its efforts to get the two child norm repealed from Municipal Corporations and Councils in Bihar. We also initiated a process for energizing civil society lawyers in Orissa for demanding the repeal of the two child norm in the state, but it could not proceed because of the unprecedented floods and the communal tensions that gripped the state.
In 2007-08, CHSJ assisted JAM in building evidence, preparing educational material and developing a networking and campaign strategy. CHSJ also facilitated the strengthening of a national network called the National Coalition Against Two Child Norm in Panchayats that included groups working on PRI issues, women’s health and rights, women’s leadership, Dalit human rights, human rights and so on.
Responding to the Two Child Norm
CHSJ works with SAHAYOG to advocate for reproductive and sexual health and rights, particularly by opposing the two child norm. In India the two child norm restrictions, especially with respect to political participation at the Panchayat level, are part of the policy reality in many states. However such policies not only militate against civil and political rights, but also discriminate against the very poor by preventing them from using government schemes and benefits.
CHSJ published the report, Responding to the Two Child Norm, in 2010. It is the result of a study conducted by a MPH student from University of Washington to understand the state level actors and factors that support and resist coercive population policies and to understand the processes which are responsible for continued support or resistance to such policies. The review, which covered Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh, aims to strengthen the ongoing advocacy action around the two child norm in India.
In 2006, CHSJ teamed up with SAHAYOG to initiate a process of advocacy action in the Empowered Action Group (EAG) states with a focus on Bihar and Jharkhand. It supported local organisations to develop an advocacy campaign on the two-child norm.