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Spotlight

A selection of stories from across the Federation

16 Days of Activism 2021 - Transforming Tech & Tackling Taboos
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16 Days of Activism 2021 - Transforming Tech & Tackling Taboos

Addressing Violence in a Digital World

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IPPF's RESPOND Team Visits Laos
story

| 04 August 2022

IPPF's RESPOND Team Visits Laos

A team from IPPF’s RESPOND Project Management Unit paid another country visit to review and observe the ongoing work on the RESPOND program – this time to Laos, where IPPF ESEAOR’s collaborating partner The Promotion of Family Health Association (PFHA) – a highly respected and leading Non-Profit Association in the country - provides vital SRH services in two northern provinces through the programme, supported by a two year grant from the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). The only landlocked country in Southeast Asia, Lao People's Democratic Republic is a socialist state with a population of seven million (approx.) spread across largely mountainous and undeveloped areas, which means that many of the indigenous communities in these areas have difficulties in accessing quality healthcare. Focusing on remote rural areas in mountainous regions, RESPOND supports the strengthening of government-run health centres that services ethnic communities in hard-to-reach locations, often over difficult terrain and often with no access to running water, basic healthcare infrastructure or information. Mobile clinics help to address this by reaching out to remote villages, located many hours away by dirt road from the nearest health centre. Our team met with the enthusiastic and hospitable staff of PFHA at their head office in the capital city of Vientiane, as well as visited the rural district of Nalae in the Luang Namtha Province - a long and bumpy journey through gravel roadways in the mountains, where they witnessed first-hand the ongoing work at the district health centres, whilst also having the opportunity to meet with both the young medical officers on duty, clients and local district health officials.  #CSurge #WomensRights4Health #IPPF #RESPOND

IPPF's RESPOND Team Visits Laos
story

| 04 August 2022

IPPF's RESPOND Team Visits Laos

A team from IPPF’s RESPOND Project Management Unit paid another country visit to review and observe the ongoing work on the RESPOND program – this time to Laos, where IPPF ESEAOR’s collaborating partner The Promotion of Family Health Association (PFHA) – a highly respected and leading Non-Profit Association in the country - provides vital SRH services in two northern provinces through the programme, supported by a two year grant from the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). The only landlocked country in Southeast Asia, Lao People's Democratic Republic is a socialist state with a population of seven million (approx.) spread across largely mountainous and undeveloped areas, which means that many of the indigenous communities in these areas have difficulties in accessing quality healthcare. Focusing on remote rural areas in mountainous regions, RESPOND supports the strengthening of government-run health centres that services ethnic communities in hard-to-reach locations, often over difficult terrain and often with no access to running water, basic healthcare infrastructure or information. Mobile clinics help to address this by reaching out to remote villages, located many hours away by dirt road from the nearest health centre. Our team met with the enthusiastic and hospitable staff of PFHA at their head office in the capital city of Vientiane, as well as visited the rural district of Nalae in the Luang Namtha Province - a long and bumpy journey through gravel roadways in the mountains, where they witnessed first-hand the ongoing work at the district health centres, whilst also having the opportunity to meet with both the young medical officers on duty, clients and local district health officials.  #CSurge #WomensRights4Health #IPPF #RESPOND

Love has no gender
story

| 30 June 2022

Pride 2022: What’s changed in the region since last year?

In the year since the last Pride Month, there have been substantial developments for LGBTQ+ communities all around the world. See what’s changed in the region since the last Pride in June 2021: New Zealand In the same month, New Zealand also banned conversion practices, in a nearly unanimous vote among lawmakers. The legislation makes it an offence to perform conversion practices on anyone under 18, or with impaired decision-making capacity. Anyone doing so faces up to three years in prison. It is also an offence to perform conversion practices that cause “serious harm”, irrespective of age, carrying a sentence of up to five years’ imprisonment. Japan And finally, also just last month Japan’s capital city Tokyo announced it will recognize same-sex partnerships as of this November. However, couples will still not be granted the same rights as married couples, and so IPPF urges Japan to implement fair laws for all. In the Asia region, Taiwan is currently the only place with marriage equality, having taken the unprecedented step of legalizing same-sex unions in 2019. To keep up with more global changes, follow ILGA World – the international lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex association.

Love has no gender
story

| 30 June 2022

Pride 2022: What’s changed in the region since last year?

In the year since the last Pride Month, there have been substantial developments for LGBTQ+ communities all around the world. See what’s changed in the region since the last Pride in June 2021: New Zealand In the same month, New Zealand also banned conversion practices, in a nearly unanimous vote among lawmakers. The legislation makes it an offence to perform conversion practices on anyone under 18, or with impaired decision-making capacity. Anyone doing so faces up to three years in prison. It is also an offence to perform conversion practices that cause “serious harm”, irrespective of age, carrying a sentence of up to five years’ imprisonment. Japan And finally, also just last month Japan’s capital city Tokyo announced it will recognize same-sex partnerships as of this November. However, couples will still not be granted the same rights as married couples, and so IPPF urges Japan to implement fair laws for all. In the Asia region, Taiwan is currently the only place with marriage equality, having taken the unprecedented step of legalizing same-sex unions in 2019. To keep up with more global changes, follow ILGA World – the international lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex association.

banner of people holding signs
story

| 20 April 2022

Youth-led GBV (Gender-Based Violence) Responses: Call for Collaborative Action

During the 16 Days of Activism 2021, youth activists from IPPF ESEAOR (East and Southeast Asia and Oceania Region), SheDecides and FRIDA Fund came together to demand collaborative action to end GBV in the Asia Pacific. The young feminists shared their lived experiences and knowledge to eliminate gender-based violence collectively and empower girls, women, and non-binary people using an intersectional lens. The dialogue highlighted the urgent need to meaningfully engage the youth in key decision-making processes. They eloquently discussed themes such as intergenerational collaboration, active accountability mechanisms, and engaging the youth in these spaces to demand equality.   The session was moderated by Jona Claire Turalde and the panelists included Sabina Omengan from SheDecides Philippines, Hereiti File from CIFWA, Thyaz Widuri from Jaringan Muda Melawan Kekerasan Seksual (Youth Network Against Sexual Violence), and Zahrah Rizwan representing Frida Fund. Each panelist shared their expertise on the relevant subject. Sabina elaborated on the role of intergenerational equality and collaboration. She said, “Educating the youth for the emancipation of systemic oppression, which also aims to make youth the leader of movements. In SheDecides, youth volunteers from all backgrounds conduct peer-to-peer learning and share their different contexts/ experiences.” IPPF Cook Islands Youth Volunteer, Hereiti File brought an important intersectional lens to our discussion. She reiterated the importance of inclusion and stated, “GBV impact on marginalized groups is different (based on location, socio-economic class, etc.), there are many layers to the discrimination that people face. Young People should be included in the planning and implementation of GBV programs not just in the delivery, if we want to make a true change, we need to include all groups, especially the marginalized groups."   Thyaz Widuri, a pioneer in fighting sexual violence in campus spaces in Indonesia demanded accountability from the stakeholders. Her powerful words, “‘DON’T WAIT, DON’T HESITATE” became central to our discussion. She shared her experience, “the journey of the grassroots movements that were active before any national regulation found it difficult to advocate for supportive policies. It is required to introduce sensitization and awareness on sexual harassment, access to support and care that is non-discriminatory, private, and confidential.”   Our final panelist, Zahrah Rizwan concluded our discussion by sharing practical knowledge about the advocacy process. In her words, “The importance of research on GBV has been increased following the recent COVID-19 pandemic. The youth activists should focus on the promotion of multi-country research work, coalition building and mapping out grant partners who support feminist initiatives.” She also further emphasized self-care and reiterated FRIDA Fund’s guide to self-love and well-being.     The key takeaways from the session included keep moving forward and demanding accountability. Self-care is political and is an essential part of our activism and finally echo Hereiti’s words, “you are NOT alone in this fight!”     Watch the full recording of the dialogue here.

banner of people holding signs
story

| 07 December 2021

Youth-led GBV (Gender-Based Violence) Responses: Call for Collaborative Action

During the 16 Days of Activism 2021, youth activists from IPPF ESEAOR (East and Southeast Asia and Oceania Region), SheDecides and FRIDA Fund came together to demand collaborative action to end GBV in the Asia Pacific. The young feminists shared their lived experiences and knowledge to eliminate gender-based violence collectively and empower girls, women, and non-binary people using an intersectional lens. The dialogue highlighted the urgent need to meaningfully engage the youth in key decision-making processes. They eloquently discussed themes such as intergenerational collaboration, active accountability mechanisms, and engaging the youth in these spaces to demand equality.   The session was moderated by Jona Claire Turalde and the panelists included Sabina Omengan from SheDecides Philippines, Hereiti File from CIFWA, Thyaz Widuri from Jaringan Muda Melawan Kekerasan Seksual (Youth Network Against Sexual Violence), and Zahrah Rizwan representing Frida Fund. Each panelist shared their expertise on the relevant subject. Sabina elaborated on the role of intergenerational equality and collaboration. She said, “Educating the youth for the emancipation of systemic oppression, which also aims to make youth the leader of movements. In SheDecides, youth volunteers from all backgrounds conduct peer-to-peer learning and share their different contexts/ experiences.” IPPF Cook Islands Youth Volunteer, Hereiti File brought an important intersectional lens to our discussion. She reiterated the importance of inclusion and stated, “GBV impact on marginalized groups is different (based on location, socio-economic class, etc.), there are many layers to the discrimination that people face. Young People should be included in the planning and implementation of GBV programs not just in the delivery, if we want to make a true change, we need to include all groups, especially the marginalized groups."   Thyaz Widuri, a pioneer in fighting sexual violence in campus spaces in Indonesia demanded accountability from the stakeholders. Her powerful words, “‘DON’T WAIT, DON’T HESITATE” became central to our discussion. She shared her experience, “the journey of the grassroots movements that were active before any national regulation found it difficult to advocate for supportive policies. It is required to introduce sensitization and awareness on sexual harassment, access to support and care that is non-discriminatory, private, and confidential.”   Our final panelist, Zahrah Rizwan concluded our discussion by sharing practical knowledge about the advocacy process. In her words, “The importance of research on GBV has been increased following the recent COVID-19 pandemic. The youth activists should focus on the promotion of multi-country research work, coalition building and mapping out grant partners who support feminist initiatives.” She also further emphasized self-care and reiterated FRIDA Fund’s guide to self-love and well-being.     The key takeaways from the session included keep moving forward and demanding accountability. Self-care is political and is an essential part of our activism and finally echo Hereiti’s words, “you are NOT alone in this fight!”     Watch the full recording of the dialogue here.

Towards gender-inclusive, climate-resilient, and equitable sexual and reproductive healthcare
story

| 20 April 2022

WEBINAR: Towards gender-inclusive, climate-resilient, and equitable sexual and reproductive healthcare

On 23 March 2022, Health Care Without Harm Southeast Asia (HWCH SEA) and the International Planned Parenthood Federation East and Southeast Asia and Oceania Region (IPPF ESEAOR) hosted a webinar to promote a gender-sensitive and climate-resilient agenda for women’s and girls’ sexual and reproductive health (SRH) across South East Asia and the Pacific. Impact of Climate Change on Women and Girls in all their Diversities The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) noted that rising temperatures and extreme weather events will significantly affect SRH care such as maternal and child health, worsening existing challenges and inequalities faced by vulnerable communities, especially women and girls. In her opening remarks, Tomoko Fukuda, Regional Director, IPPF ESEAOR, highlighted the impacts of climate change in South East Asia, “…Not only is access (to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR)) affected, but we see an increase in gender-based violence. (Climate-related inequalities) serves to increase the displacement of people… to be in more harm when a humanitarian crisis happens.”  Athena Galao from UN Women Asia Pacific said, “The climate crisis will have a detrimental impact on women, children and other underrepresented communities.” It is more important to recognize how climate change threatens human rights, especially sexual health and reproductive rights.  Climate change does not affect us all equally. While we all may be in the same storm, we are not in the same boat.   What is our response?  Manjit Sohal, HCWH SEA talked about the ongoing joint project advancing health and gender equity by building climate-resilient and sustainable health facilities in communities in Cambodia and Solomon Islands in partnership with IPPF members. She explained, “Our overall goal is to reduce health and gender inequities and address climate justice.” Thus, by conducting a baseline assessment of their carbon footprint, they will be able to develop a plan of action to reduce their emissions & decarbonize.  Our Member Associations, Reproductive Health Association of Cambodia (RHAC) and Solomon Islands Planned Parenthood Association (SIPPA) shared their experiences and expectations of the joint project.  Dr Var Chivorn, RHAC’s Executive Director, shared Cambodia’s existing policy strategies and limited budget allocation to climate change. RHAC is working on the ground to research and develop advocacy toolkits to push the government to adopt a gender transformative approach to climate policies. He added, “The most notable point (from the study) is the limited understanding about health care during pregnancy which leads them (women and girls) to not consider the basic needs of health service during these disasters.”   The Solomon Islands are one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change. Ben Angoa, SIPPA’s Executive Director, discussed how the high exposure to natural hazards and extreme weather conditions on the islands affect access to SRH services. In direct response to this, SIPPA is ensuring their preparedness, response, and recovery efforts are set up for climate-related disasters. They are working to integrate SRHR into climate change adaptation and resilience-building by partnering with HCWH SEA and the Ministry of Health to build resilient facilities and empower young people.  SRHR in climate change adaptation and resilience  As a society, we should be worried about the lack of gender-sensitive policies to address the unique impact of climate change on gender equality. We need to adopt a human rights-based approach to develop transformative policies integrating SRHR and climate action. It is critical to build evidence from the existing gender data and invest in SRHR in climate and humanitarian action. We must promote women, girls, and people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities, gender expressions, and sex characteristics (SOGIESC) leadership in resilience-building.  In his closing remarks, Ramon San Pascual, the Executive Director of HCWH SEA called for action. He said, “When we talk about taking care of SRHR in the context of the climate crisis, we are talking about two (2) communities:   Regular communities, where we live… and the health facilities surrounding them, as well as the whole issue of gender inequity in the healthcare sector.” He urged stakeholders to create impactful action to build climate resilience and strengthen communities that are at the forefront.  Watch the recording here. Access our webinar press release here.

Towards gender-inclusive, climate-resilient, and equitable sexual and reproductive healthcare
story

| 23 March 2022

WEBINAR: Towards gender-inclusive, climate-resilient, and equitable sexual and reproductive healthcare

On 23 March 2022, Health Care Without Harm Southeast Asia (HWCH SEA) and the International Planned Parenthood Federation East and Southeast Asia and Oceania Region (IPPF ESEAOR) hosted a webinar to promote a gender-sensitive and climate-resilient agenda for women’s and girls’ sexual and reproductive health (SRH) across South East Asia and the Pacific. Impact of Climate Change on Women and Girls in all their Diversities The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) noted that rising temperatures and extreme weather events will significantly affect SRH care such as maternal and child health, worsening existing challenges and inequalities faced by vulnerable communities, especially women and girls. In her opening remarks, Tomoko Fukuda, Regional Director, IPPF ESEAOR, highlighted the impacts of climate change in South East Asia, “…Not only is access (to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR)) affected, but we see an increase in gender-based violence. (Climate-related inequalities) serves to increase the displacement of people… to be in more harm when a humanitarian crisis happens.”  Athena Galao from UN Women Asia Pacific said, “The climate crisis will have a detrimental impact on women, children and other underrepresented communities.” It is more important to recognize how climate change threatens human rights, especially sexual health and reproductive rights.  Climate change does not affect us all equally. While we all may be in the same storm, we are not in the same boat.   What is our response?  Manjit Sohal, HCWH SEA talked about the ongoing joint project advancing health and gender equity by building climate-resilient and sustainable health facilities in communities in Cambodia and Solomon Islands in partnership with IPPF members. She explained, “Our overall goal is to reduce health and gender inequities and address climate justice.” Thus, by conducting a baseline assessment of their carbon footprint, they will be able to develop a plan of action to reduce their emissions & decarbonize.  Our Member Associations, Reproductive Health Association of Cambodia (RHAC) and Solomon Islands Planned Parenthood Association (SIPPA) shared their experiences and expectations of the joint project.  Dr Var Chivorn, RHAC’s Executive Director, shared Cambodia’s existing policy strategies and limited budget allocation to climate change. RHAC is working on the ground to research and develop advocacy toolkits to push the government to adopt a gender transformative approach to climate policies. He added, “The most notable point (from the study) is the limited understanding about health care during pregnancy which leads them (women and girls) to not consider the basic needs of health service during these disasters.”   The Solomon Islands are one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change. Ben Angoa, SIPPA’s Executive Director, discussed how the high exposure to natural hazards and extreme weather conditions on the islands affect access to SRH services. In direct response to this, SIPPA is ensuring their preparedness, response, and recovery efforts are set up for climate-related disasters. They are working to integrate SRHR into climate change adaptation and resilience-building by partnering with HCWH SEA and the Ministry of Health to build resilient facilities and empower young people.  SRHR in climate change adaptation and resilience  As a society, we should be worried about the lack of gender-sensitive policies to address the unique impact of climate change on gender equality. We need to adopt a human rights-based approach to develop transformative policies integrating SRHR and climate action. It is critical to build evidence from the existing gender data and invest in SRHR in climate and humanitarian action. We must promote women, girls, and people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities, gender expressions, and sex characteristics (SOGIESC) leadership in resilience-building.  In his closing remarks, Ramon San Pascual, the Executive Director of HCWH SEA called for action. He said, “When we talk about taking care of SRHR in the context of the climate crisis, we are talking about two (2) communities:   Regular communities, where we live… and the health facilities surrounding them, as well as the whole issue of gender inequity in the healthcare sector.” He urged stakeholders to create impactful action to build climate resilience and strengthen communities that are at the forefront.  Watch the recording here. Access our webinar press release here.

16 Days of Activism 2021 - Transforming Tech & Tackling Taboos
story

| 14 April 2022

16 Days of Activism 2021 - Transforming Tech & Tackling Taboos

On the 10th of December 2021, IPPF ESEAOR and Asia Safe Abortion Partnership (ASAP) organized a panel discussion about online activities and SRHR in Asia. Advocates and experts for GBV in online spaces shared their experiences and key methods during their presentations and Q&A session.  This dialogue highlighted the importance of establishing safe online spaces for citizens, civil societies, and human rights activists to develop GBV issues in Asia. Especially, under the COVID-19 pandemic, more abusive reactions in the digital spaces have been observed as the demands for online activities have risen. The international and domestic governance teams should take immediate and effective actions for securing safe online spaces for everyone.  Nandhini Mazumder, Assistant Coordinator at ASAP gave the opening presentation highlighting the online GBV issues enabled by the AI algorithm, privacy, surveillance, and censorship.   The event was divided into two-panel discussions. The first panel focused on the experiences of managing digital spaces, such as tele-helplines, social media accounts and online activism. It was facilitated by Natassha, Senior Advocacy Officer at IPPF ESEAOR. Each panelist brought a unique experience and innovative ideas to navigate gender spaces online. Our first panelist, Kris Anne, an active IPPF Youth Volunteer, Family Planning Organisations of Philippines (FPOP). She is a trained peer educator and as well as a trained Community-Based Screening Motivator. She emphasized the role of the internet as an SRHR advocacy tool against GBV. She talked about Your Hotline, an online hotline through social media (FB), which contributed to creating safe spaces. Despite the challenges, they are working on building their digital security and pushing for gender-sensitive packages. The second panelist, Amalia from Women on Web has been involved in many research and advocacy projects on SRHR. She has also been an active member of PurpleCode Collective, a collective working towards a feminist internet. Amalia talked about building online solidarity spaces. Through this, we can strengthen collaborative actions and challenge the adversaries together with the government, civil society, and big tech companies.   Our third panelist, Pushpa Joshi, a co-founder of YoSHAN Nepal is working on multiple SRHR activities digitally. An advent advocate of legalizing sex work in Nepal, Pushpa is working day and night against the rising sexism and hate speech in online spaces. To tackle this, they are collectively working to curb misinformation and share correct information about SRHR. Our final panelist, Noval Auliady from Jakarta Feminist has created the carilayanan.com as a cyber-based response to SGBV (Sexual and Gender-Based Violence) in Indonesia. While sharing his motivation to create this platform, Noval said, “We recognize that people live with their perpetrators. We give them options to access help safely.” He further emphasized the power of youth people and our actions, “Don’t stop talking, tweeting, and posting!”   The second panel was an expert discussion facilitated by Ayesha Bashir, ASAP who interviewed Kirthi Jayakumar to discuss the larger issues of the role of feminist movements, the challenges we face to build safe spaces online and how can we use technology to empower ourselves. Kirthi Jayakumar is a lawyer and feminist researcher. She founded The Gender Security Project, a digital repository on the WPS Agenda and Conflict-related Sexual Violence. She coded Saahas, a mobile app and chatbot to help survivors of gender-based violence find help across 196 countries, and to enable bystander intervention. Kirthi eloquently described the issues we as feminists face while accessing technologies. She also discussed in detail the patriarchal structures that make online spaces rigid, unaccountable, and inaccessible to women and gender non-conforming individuals. She inspired us to not give up and to identify the role of technology to visibilise ourselves and feminize online spaces. In her words, “there is power in numbers. We must get our voice heard while we celebrate our own differences.”  She added, “technologies have the power to empower, however, we also need to develop education, regulation, and legal systems for safer online spaces.” In her closing remarks, Dr. Suchitra Dalvie, co-founder of ASAP, fueled our activism by adding, “Tomorrow is already here and if we want to lead the conversation around the issues, we care about deeply we have a responsibility to understand the shifting and blurring of issues that are core to our work.”   Banner illustration by Shreya Tingal.  Graphic recordings by Claudine Delfin.  Watch the recording here.

16 Days of Activism 2021 - Transforming Tech & Tackling Taboos
story

| 10 December 2021

16 Days of Activism 2021 - Transforming Tech & Tackling Taboos

On the 10th of December 2021, IPPF ESEAOR and Asia Safe Abortion Partnership (ASAP) organized a panel discussion about online activities and SRHR in Asia. Advocates and experts for GBV in online spaces shared their experiences and key methods during their presentations and Q&A session.  This dialogue highlighted the importance of establishing safe online spaces for citizens, civil societies, and human rights activists to develop GBV issues in Asia. Especially, under the COVID-19 pandemic, more abusive reactions in the digital spaces have been observed as the demands for online activities have risen. The international and domestic governance teams should take immediate and effective actions for securing safe online spaces for everyone.  Nandhini Mazumder, Assistant Coordinator at ASAP gave the opening presentation highlighting the online GBV issues enabled by the AI algorithm, privacy, surveillance, and censorship.   The event was divided into two-panel discussions. The first panel focused on the experiences of managing digital spaces, such as tele-helplines, social media accounts and online activism. It was facilitated by Natassha, Senior Advocacy Officer at IPPF ESEAOR. Each panelist brought a unique experience and innovative ideas to navigate gender spaces online. Our first panelist, Kris Anne, an active IPPF Youth Volunteer, Family Planning Organisations of Philippines (FPOP). She is a trained peer educator and as well as a trained Community-Based Screening Motivator. She emphasized the role of the internet as an SRHR advocacy tool against GBV. She talked about Your Hotline, an online hotline through social media (FB), which contributed to creating safe spaces. Despite the challenges, they are working on building their digital security and pushing for gender-sensitive packages. The second panelist, Amalia from Women on Web has been involved in many research and advocacy projects on SRHR. She has also been an active member of PurpleCode Collective, a collective working towards a feminist internet. Amalia talked about building online solidarity spaces. Through this, we can strengthen collaborative actions and challenge the adversaries together with the government, civil society, and big tech companies.   Our third panelist, Pushpa Joshi, a co-founder of YoSHAN Nepal is working on multiple SRHR activities digitally. An advent advocate of legalizing sex work in Nepal, Pushpa is working day and night against the rising sexism and hate speech in online spaces. To tackle this, they are collectively working to curb misinformation and share correct information about SRHR. Our final panelist, Noval Auliady from Jakarta Feminist has created the carilayanan.com as a cyber-based response to SGBV (Sexual and Gender-Based Violence) in Indonesia. While sharing his motivation to create this platform, Noval said, “We recognize that people live with their perpetrators. We give them options to access help safely.” He further emphasized the power of youth people and our actions, “Don’t stop talking, tweeting, and posting!”   The second panel was an expert discussion facilitated by Ayesha Bashir, ASAP who interviewed Kirthi Jayakumar to discuss the larger issues of the role of feminist movements, the challenges we face to build safe spaces online and how can we use technology to empower ourselves. Kirthi Jayakumar is a lawyer and feminist researcher. She founded The Gender Security Project, a digital repository on the WPS Agenda and Conflict-related Sexual Violence. She coded Saahas, a mobile app and chatbot to help survivors of gender-based violence find help across 196 countries, and to enable bystander intervention. Kirthi eloquently described the issues we as feminists face while accessing technologies. She also discussed in detail the patriarchal structures that make online spaces rigid, unaccountable, and inaccessible to women and gender non-conforming individuals. She inspired us to not give up and to identify the role of technology to visibilise ourselves and feminize online spaces. In her words, “there is power in numbers. We must get our voice heard while we celebrate our own differences.”  She added, “technologies have the power to empower, however, we also need to develop education, regulation, and legal systems for safer online spaces.” In her closing remarks, Dr. Suchitra Dalvie, co-founder of ASAP, fueled our activism by adding, “Tomorrow is already here and if we want to lead the conversation around the issues, we care about deeply we have a responsibility to understand the shifting and blurring of issues that are core to our work.”   Banner illustration by Shreya Tingal.  Graphic recordings by Claudine Delfin.  Watch the recording here.

2 women in Pakistan
story

| 28 February 2022

Serving Afghan refugees in Pakistan - Update from RESPOND

UNHCR  recorded approximately 1.4 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan in 2021, with 30,000 arriving in August alone as the Taliban took control in Afghanistan. The Pakistani Government's capacity to respond to this humanitarian crisis remains limited given the scale of need. Living conditions in many camps are poor, with overcrowding a major challenge. Pervasive gender inequality and a de-prioritisation of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) care mean that women and girls are particularly vulnerable and at heightened risk of illness and death from preventable causes including unsafe abortions and maternal complications. With support from the Australian Government, IPPF is addressing SRH needs through the RESPOND program. This program, running across 19 countries where IPPF has a presence, aims to serve 13,440 Afghan refugees in Pakistan over two years (2021-2023).  IPPF Pakistani Member Association (MA), the Rahnuma Family Planning Association of Pakistan (FPAP), is central to these efforts. Since the onset of RESPOND in August 2021, FPAP has already conducted 37 medical camps reaching over 2,000 people across Peshawar and Khyber Agency districts in KP, and in Quetta and Pishin districts in Balochistan, housing the most Afghan refugees in the country. Almost 40 per cent of women and girls accessing care with FPAP are below the age of 20. Some of the clients being reached have been refugees in Pakistan for a long time, whereas others have recently crossed the border. Once in Pakistan, they have limited access to government services.   Women and girls make up 96 per cent of clients accessing the FPAP medical camps. Most women being treated are married with children, with the overwhelming majority seeking SRH services for: Obstetric, gynaecological and antenatal care Menstruation support Sexually Transmissible Infections (STIs) Sexual and Gender-based violence (SGBV) Family planning With the unfolding humanitarian crisis, access to family planning enables women and girls to control whether and when to have children. Currently, FPAP reports that almost half of clients (49%) in the camps are opting for the oral conceptive pill, whilst 1 in 5 are seeking condoms and a smaller proportion are accessing Sayana Press (a form of contraceptive injectable that lasts for 3 months). Long-term methods such as IUDs are not very popular, likely because they’re deemed invasive to privacy or culturally inappropriate. A major challenge in the camps being reported right now is SGBV. FPAP staff has reported a worrying lack of counselling and mental health services available for refugees in KP and Balochistan, in addition to clinical care for survivors of sexual violence. As such, SGBV remains a key priority of FPAP when delivering medical camps.  Nasrin , aged 38, reported ongoing physical and emotional abuse at the hands of male family members. Married with four children, her husband is drug user and as such, the family’s only source of income is from Nasrin’s brother-in-law, who repeatedly beat her. With no financial means to support herself if she were to leave, Nasrin attended the camp to see guidance from FPAP. FPAP was able to provide counselling, clinical care, and connected her with a local NGO focused on women-led income generation.  Supporting women like Nasrin gives rise to the profound impact that the RESPOND program is having. Afghan women and girls are so often silenced, and their health and wellbeing needs are regularly ignored. For many Afghani refugees encamped in Pakistan, services enabled through RESPOND are a lifeline to receive essential SRH care and ensure the futures of those most vulnerable.  

2 women in Pakistan
story

| 28 February 2022

Serving Afghan refugees in Pakistan - Update from RESPOND

UNHCR  recorded approximately 1.4 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan in 2021, with 30,000 arriving in August alone as the Taliban took control in Afghanistan. The Pakistani Government's capacity to respond to this humanitarian crisis remains limited given the scale of need. Living conditions in many camps are poor, with overcrowding a major challenge. Pervasive gender inequality and a de-prioritisation of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) care mean that women and girls are particularly vulnerable and at heightened risk of illness and death from preventable causes including unsafe abortions and maternal complications. With support from the Australian Government, IPPF is addressing SRH needs through the RESPOND program. This program, running across 19 countries where IPPF has a presence, aims to serve 13,440 Afghan refugees in Pakistan over two years (2021-2023).  IPPF Pakistani Member Association (MA), the Rahnuma Family Planning Association of Pakistan (FPAP), is central to these efforts. Since the onset of RESPOND in August 2021, FPAP has already conducted 37 medical camps reaching over 2,000 people across Peshawar and Khyber Agency districts in KP, and in Quetta and Pishin districts in Balochistan, housing the most Afghan refugees in the country. Almost 40 per cent of women and girls accessing care with FPAP are below the age of 20. Some of the clients being reached have been refugees in Pakistan for a long time, whereas others have recently crossed the border. Once in Pakistan, they have limited access to government services.   Women and girls make up 96 per cent of clients accessing the FPAP medical camps. Most women being treated are married with children, with the overwhelming majority seeking SRH services for: Obstetric, gynaecological and antenatal care Menstruation support Sexually Transmissible Infections (STIs) Sexual and Gender-based violence (SGBV) Family planning With the unfolding humanitarian crisis, access to family planning enables women and girls to control whether and when to have children. Currently, FPAP reports that almost half of clients (49%) in the camps are opting for the oral conceptive pill, whilst 1 in 5 are seeking condoms and a smaller proportion are accessing Sayana Press (a form of contraceptive injectable that lasts for 3 months). Long-term methods such as IUDs are not very popular, likely because they’re deemed invasive to privacy or culturally inappropriate. A major challenge in the camps being reported right now is SGBV. FPAP staff has reported a worrying lack of counselling and mental health services available for refugees in KP and Balochistan, in addition to clinical care for survivors of sexual violence. As such, SGBV remains a key priority of FPAP when delivering medical camps.  Nasrin , aged 38, reported ongoing physical and emotional abuse at the hands of male family members. Married with four children, her husband is drug user and as such, the family’s only source of income is from Nasrin’s brother-in-law, who repeatedly beat her. With no financial means to support herself if she were to leave, Nasrin attended the camp to see guidance from FPAP. FPAP was able to provide counselling, clinical care, and connected her with a local NGO focused on women-led income generation.  Supporting women like Nasrin gives rise to the profound impact that the RESPOND program is having. Afghan women and girls are so often silenced, and their health and wellbeing needs are regularly ignored. For many Afghani refugees encamped in Pakistan, services enabled through RESPOND are a lifeline to receive essential SRH care and ensure the futures of those most vulnerable.  

IPPF's RESPOND Team Visits Laos
story

| 04 August 2022

IPPF's RESPOND Team Visits Laos

A team from IPPF’s RESPOND Project Management Unit paid another country visit to review and observe the ongoing work on the RESPOND program – this time to Laos, where IPPF ESEAOR’s collaborating partner The Promotion of Family Health Association (PFHA) – a highly respected and leading Non-Profit Association in the country - provides vital SRH services in two northern provinces through the programme, supported by a two year grant from the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). The only landlocked country in Southeast Asia, Lao People's Democratic Republic is a socialist state with a population of seven million (approx.) spread across largely mountainous and undeveloped areas, which means that many of the indigenous communities in these areas have difficulties in accessing quality healthcare. Focusing on remote rural areas in mountainous regions, RESPOND supports the strengthening of government-run health centres that services ethnic communities in hard-to-reach locations, often over difficult terrain and often with no access to running water, basic healthcare infrastructure or information. Mobile clinics help to address this by reaching out to remote villages, located many hours away by dirt road from the nearest health centre. Our team met with the enthusiastic and hospitable staff of PFHA at their head office in the capital city of Vientiane, as well as visited the rural district of Nalae in the Luang Namtha Province - a long and bumpy journey through gravel roadways in the mountains, where they witnessed first-hand the ongoing work at the district health centres, whilst also having the opportunity to meet with both the young medical officers on duty, clients and local district health officials.  #CSurge #WomensRights4Health #IPPF #RESPOND

IPPF's RESPOND Team Visits Laos
story

| 04 August 2022

IPPF's RESPOND Team Visits Laos

A team from IPPF’s RESPOND Project Management Unit paid another country visit to review and observe the ongoing work on the RESPOND program – this time to Laos, where IPPF ESEAOR’s collaborating partner The Promotion of Family Health Association (PFHA) – a highly respected and leading Non-Profit Association in the country - provides vital SRH services in two northern provinces through the programme, supported by a two year grant from the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). The only landlocked country in Southeast Asia, Lao People's Democratic Republic is a socialist state with a population of seven million (approx.) spread across largely mountainous and undeveloped areas, which means that many of the indigenous communities in these areas have difficulties in accessing quality healthcare. Focusing on remote rural areas in mountainous regions, RESPOND supports the strengthening of government-run health centres that services ethnic communities in hard-to-reach locations, often over difficult terrain and often with no access to running water, basic healthcare infrastructure or information. Mobile clinics help to address this by reaching out to remote villages, located many hours away by dirt road from the nearest health centre. Our team met with the enthusiastic and hospitable staff of PFHA at their head office in the capital city of Vientiane, as well as visited the rural district of Nalae in the Luang Namtha Province - a long and bumpy journey through gravel roadways in the mountains, where they witnessed first-hand the ongoing work at the district health centres, whilst also having the opportunity to meet with both the young medical officers on duty, clients and local district health officials.  #CSurge #WomensRights4Health #IPPF #RESPOND

Love has no gender
story

| 30 June 2022

Pride 2022: What’s changed in the region since last year?

In the year since the last Pride Month, there have been substantial developments for LGBTQ+ communities all around the world. See what’s changed in the region since the last Pride in June 2021: New Zealand In the same month, New Zealand also banned conversion practices, in a nearly unanimous vote among lawmakers. The legislation makes it an offence to perform conversion practices on anyone under 18, or with impaired decision-making capacity. Anyone doing so faces up to three years in prison. It is also an offence to perform conversion practices that cause “serious harm”, irrespective of age, carrying a sentence of up to five years’ imprisonment. Japan And finally, also just last month Japan’s capital city Tokyo announced it will recognize same-sex partnerships as of this November. However, couples will still not be granted the same rights as married couples, and so IPPF urges Japan to implement fair laws for all. In the Asia region, Taiwan is currently the only place with marriage equality, having taken the unprecedented step of legalizing same-sex unions in 2019. To keep up with more global changes, follow ILGA World – the international lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex association.

Love has no gender
story

| 30 June 2022

Pride 2022: What’s changed in the region since last year?

In the year since the last Pride Month, there have been substantial developments for LGBTQ+ communities all around the world. See what’s changed in the region since the last Pride in June 2021: New Zealand In the same month, New Zealand also banned conversion practices, in a nearly unanimous vote among lawmakers. The legislation makes it an offence to perform conversion practices on anyone under 18, or with impaired decision-making capacity. Anyone doing so faces up to three years in prison. It is also an offence to perform conversion practices that cause “serious harm”, irrespective of age, carrying a sentence of up to five years’ imprisonment. Japan And finally, also just last month Japan’s capital city Tokyo announced it will recognize same-sex partnerships as of this November. However, couples will still not be granted the same rights as married couples, and so IPPF urges Japan to implement fair laws for all. In the Asia region, Taiwan is currently the only place with marriage equality, having taken the unprecedented step of legalizing same-sex unions in 2019. To keep up with more global changes, follow ILGA World – the international lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex association.

banner of people holding signs
story

| 20 April 2022

Youth-led GBV (Gender-Based Violence) Responses: Call for Collaborative Action

During the 16 Days of Activism 2021, youth activists from IPPF ESEAOR (East and Southeast Asia and Oceania Region), SheDecides and FRIDA Fund came together to demand collaborative action to end GBV in the Asia Pacific. The young feminists shared their lived experiences and knowledge to eliminate gender-based violence collectively and empower girls, women, and non-binary people using an intersectional lens. The dialogue highlighted the urgent need to meaningfully engage the youth in key decision-making processes. They eloquently discussed themes such as intergenerational collaboration, active accountability mechanisms, and engaging the youth in these spaces to demand equality.   The session was moderated by Jona Claire Turalde and the panelists included Sabina Omengan from SheDecides Philippines, Hereiti File from CIFWA, Thyaz Widuri from Jaringan Muda Melawan Kekerasan Seksual (Youth Network Against Sexual Violence), and Zahrah Rizwan representing Frida Fund. Each panelist shared their expertise on the relevant subject. Sabina elaborated on the role of intergenerational equality and collaboration. She said, “Educating the youth for the emancipation of systemic oppression, which also aims to make youth the leader of movements. In SheDecides, youth volunteers from all backgrounds conduct peer-to-peer learning and share their different contexts/ experiences.” IPPF Cook Islands Youth Volunteer, Hereiti File brought an important intersectional lens to our discussion. She reiterated the importance of inclusion and stated, “GBV impact on marginalized groups is different (based on location, socio-economic class, etc.), there are many layers to the discrimination that people face. Young People should be included in the planning and implementation of GBV programs not just in the delivery, if we want to make a true change, we need to include all groups, especially the marginalized groups."   Thyaz Widuri, a pioneer in fighting sexual violence in campus spaces in Indonesia demanded accountability from the stakeholders. Her powerful words, “‘DON’T WAIT, DON’T HESITATE” became central to our discussion. She shared her experience, “the journey of the grassroots movements that were active before any national regulation found it difficult to advocate for supportive policies. It is required to introduce sensitization and awareness on sexual harassment, access to support and care that is non-discriminatory, private, and confidential.”   Our final panelist, Zahrah Rizwan concluded our discussion by sharing practical knowledge about the advocacy process. In her words, “The importance of research on GBV has been increased following the recent COVID-19 pandemic. The youth activists should focus on the promotion of multi-country research work, coalition building and mapping out grant partners who support feminist initiatives.” She also further emphasized self-care and reiterated FRIDA Fund’s guide to self-love and well-being.     The key takeaways from the session included keep moving forward and demanding accountability. Self-care is political and is an essential part of our activism and finally echo Hereiti’s words, “you are NOT alone in this fight!”     Watch the full recording of the dialogue here.

banner of people holding signs
story

| 07 December 2021

Youth-led GBV (Gender-Based Violence) Responses: Call for Collaborative Action

During the 16 Days of Activism 2021, youth activists from IPPF ESEAOR (East and Southeast Asia and Oceania Region), SheDecides and FRIDA Fund came together to demand collaborative action to end GBV in the Asia Pacific. The young feminists shared their lived experiences and knowledge to eliminate gender-based violence collectively and empower girls, women, and non-binary people using an intersectional lens. The dialogue highlighted the urgent need to meaningfully engage the youth in key decision-making processes. They eloquently discussed themes such as intergenerational collaboration, active accountability mechanisms, and engaging the youth in these spaces to demand equality.   The session was moderated by Jona Claire Turalde and the panelists included Sabina Omengan from SheDecides Philippines, Hereiti File from CIFWA, Thyaz Widuri from Jaringan Muda Melawan Kekerasan Seksual (Youth Network Against Sexual Violence), and Zahrah Rizwan representing Frida Fund. Each panelist shared their expertise on the relevant subject. Sabina elaborated on the role of intergenerational equality and collaboration. She said, “Educating the youth for the emancipation of systemic oppression, which also aims to make youth the leader of movements. In SheDecides, youth volunteers from all backgrounds conduct peer-to-peer learning and share their different contexts/ experiences.” IPPF Cook Islands Youth Volunteer, Hereiti File brought an important intersectional lens to our discussion. She reiterated the importance of inclusion and stated, “GBV impact on marginalized groups is different (based on location, socio-economic class, etc.), there are many layers to the discrimination that people face. Young People should be included in the planning and implementation of GBV programs not just in the delivery, if we want to make a true change, we need to include all groups, especially the marginalized groups."   Thyaz Widuri, a pioneer in fighting sexual violence in campus spaces in Indonesia demanded accountability from the stakeholders. Her powerful words, “‘DON’T WAIT, DON’T HESITATE” became central to our discussion. She shared her experience, “the journey of the grassroots movements that were active before any national regulation found it difficult to advocate for supportive policies. It is required to introduce sensitization and awareness on sexual harassment, access to support and care that is non-discriminatory, private, and confidential.”   Our final panelist, Zahrah Rizwan concluded our discussion by sharing practical knowledge about the advocacy process. In her words, “The importance of research on GBV has been increased following the recent COVID-19 pandemic. The youth activists should focus on the promotion of multi-country research work, coalition building and mapping out grant partners who support feminist initiatives.” She also further emphasized self-care and reiterated FRIDA Fund’s guide to self-love and well-being.     The key takeaways from the session included keep moving forward and demanding accountability. Self-care is political and is an essential part of our activism and finally echo Hereiti’s words, “you are NOT alone in this fight!”     Watch the full recording of the dialogue here.

Towards gender-inclusive, climate-resilient, and equitable sexual and reproductive healthcare
story

| 20 April 2022

WEBINAR: Towards gender-inclusive, climate-resilient, and equitable sexual and reproductive healthcare

On 23 March 2022, Health Care Without Harm Southeast Asia (HWCH SEA) and the International Planned Parenthood Federation East and Southeast Asia and Oceania Region (IPPF ESEAOR) hosted a webinar to promote a gender-sensitive and climate-resilient agenda for women’s and girls’ sexual and reproductive health (SRH) across South East Asia and the Pacific. Impact of Climate Change on Women and Girls in all their Diversities The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) noted that rising temperatures and extreme weather events will significantly affect SRH care such as maternal and child health, worsening existing challenges and inequalities faced by vulnerable communities, especially women and girls. In her opening remarks, Tomoko Fukuda, Regional Director, IPPF ESEAOR, highlighted the impacts of climate change in South East Asia, “…Not only is access (to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR)) affected, but we see an increase in gender-based violence. (Climate-related inequalities) serves to increase the displacement of people… to be in more harm when a humanitarian crisis happens.”  Athena Galao from UN Women Asia Pacific said, “The climate crisis will have a detrimental impact on women, children and other underrepresented communities.” It is more important to recognize how climate change threatens human rights, especially sexual health and reproductive rights.  Climate change does not affect us all equally. While we all may be in the same storm, we are not in the same boat.   What is our response?  Manjit Sohal, HCWH SEA talked about the ongoing joint project advancing health and gender equity by building climate-resilient and sustainable health facilities in communities in Cambodia and Solomon Islands in partnership with IPPF members. She explained, “Our overall goal is to reduce health and gender inequities and address climate justice.” Thus, by conducting a baseline assessment of their carbon footprint, they will be able to develop a plan of action to reduce their emissions & decarbonize.  Our Member Associations, Reproductive Health Association of Cambodia (RHAC) and Solomon Islands Planned Parenthood Association (SIPPA) shared their experiences and expectations of the joint project.  Dr Var Chivorn, RHAC’s Executive Director, shared Cambodia’s existing policy strategies and limited budget allocation to climate change. RHAC is working on the ground to research and develop advocacy toolkits to push the government to adopt a gender transformative approach to climate policies. He added, “The most notable point (from the study) is the limited understanding about health care during pregnancy which leads them (women and girls) to not consider the basic needs of health service during these disasters.”   The Solomon Islands are one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change. Ben Angoa, SIPPA’s Executive Director, discussed how the high exposure to natural hazards and extreme weather conditions on the islands affect access to SRH services. In direct response to this, SIPPA is ensuring their preparedness, response, and recovery efforts are set up for climate-related disasters. They are working to integrate SRHR into climate change adaptation and resilience-building by partnering with HCWH SEA and the Ministry of Health to build resilient facilities and empower young people.  SRHR in climate change adaptation and resilience  As a society, we should be worried about the lack of gender-sensitive policies to address the unique impact of climate change on gender equality. We need to adopt a human rights-based approach to develop transformative policies integrating SRHR and climate action. It is critical to build evidence from the existing gender data and invest in SRHR in climate and humanitarian action. We must promote women, girls, and people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities, gender expressions, and sex characteristics (SOGIESC) leadership in resilience-building.  In his closing remarks, Ramon San Pascual, the Executive Director of HCWH SEA called for action. He said, “When we talk about taking care of SRHR in the context of the climate crisis, we are talking about two (2) communities:   Regular communities, where we live… and the health facilities surrounding them, as well as the whole issue of gender inequity in the healthcare sector.” He urged stakeholders to create impactful action to build climate resilience and strengthen communities that are at the forefront.  Watch the recording here. Access our webinar press release here.

Towards gender-inclusive, climate-resilient, and equitable sexual and reproductive healthcare
story

| 23 March 2022

WEBINAR: Towards gender-inclusive, climate-resilient, and equitable sexual and reproductive healthcare

On 23 March 2022, Health Care Without Harm Southeast Asia (HWCH SEA) and the International Planned Parenthood Federation East and Southeast Asia and Oceania Region (IPPF ESEAOR) hosted a webinar to promote a gender-sensitive and climate-resilient agenda for women’s and girls’ sexual and reproductive health (SRH) across South East Asia and the Pacific. Impact of Climate Change on Women and Girls in all their Diversities The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) noted that rising temperatures and extreme weather events will significantly affect SRH care such as maternal and child health, worsening existing challenges and inequalities faced by vulnerable communities, especially women and girls. In her opening remarks, Tomoko Fukuda, Regional Director, IPPF ESEAOR, highlighted the impacts of climate change in South East Asia, “…Not only is access (to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR)) affected, but we see an increase in gender-based violence. (Climate-related inequalities) serves to increase the displacement of people… to be in more harm when a humanitarian crisis happens.”  Athena Galao from UN Women Asia Pacific said, “The climate crisis will have a detrimental impact on women, children and other underrepresented communities.” It is more important to recognize how climate change threatens human rights, especially sexual health and reproductive rights.  Climate change does not affect us all equally. While we all may be in the same storm, we are not in the same boat.   What is our response?  Manjit Sohal, HCWH SEA talked about the ongoing joint project advancing health and gender equity by building climate-resilient and sustainable health facilities in communities in Cambodia and Solomon Islands in partnership with IPPF members. She explained, “Our overall goal is to reduce health and gender inequities and address climate justice.” Thus, by conducting a baseline assessment of their carbon footprint, they will be able to develop a plan of action to reduce their emissions & decarbonize.  Our Member Associations, Reproductive Health Association of Cambodia (RHAC) and Solomon Islands Planned Parenthood Association (SIPPA) shared their experiences and expectations of the joint project.  Dr Var Chivorn, RHAC’s Executive Director, shared Cambodia’s existing policy strategies and limited budget allocation to climate change. RHAC is working on the ground to research and develop advocacy toolkits to push the government to adopt a gender transformative approach to climate policies. He added, “The most notable point (from the study) is the limited understanding about health care during pregnancy which leads them (women and girls) to not consider the basic needs of health service during these disasters.”   The Solomon Islands are one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change. Ben Angoa, SIPPA’s Executive Director, discussed how the high exposure to natural hazards and extreme weather conditions on the islands affect access to SRH services. In direct response to this, SIPPA is ensuring their preparedness, response, and recovery efforts are set up for climate-related disasters. They are working to integrate SRHR into climate change adaptation and resilience-building by partnering with HCWH SEA and the Ministry of Health to build resilient facilities and empower young people.  SRHR in climate change adaptation and resilience  As a society, we should be worried about the lack of gender-sensitive policies to address the unique impact of climate change on gender equality. We need to adopt a human rights-based approach to develop transformative policies integrating SRHR and climate action. It is critical to build evidence from the existing gender data and invest in SRHR in climate and humanitarian action. We must promote women, girls, and people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities, gender expressions, and sex characteristics (SOGIESC) leadership in resilience-building.  In his closing remarks, Ramon San Pascual, the Executive Director of HCWH SEA called for action. He said, “When we talk about taking care of SRHR in the context of the climate crisis, we are talking about two (2) communities:   Regular communities, where we live… and the health facilities surrounding them, as well as the whole issue of gender inequity in the healthcare sector.” He urged stakeholders to create impactful action to build climate resilience and strengthen communities that are at the forefront.  Watch the recording here. Access our webinar press release here.

16 Days of Activism 2021 - Transforming Tech & Tackling Taboos
story

| 14 April 2022

16 Days of Activism 2021 - Transforming Tech & Tackling Taboos

On the 10th of December 2021, IPPF ESEAOR and Asia Safe Abortion Partnership (ASAP) organized a panel discussion about online activities and SRHR in Asia. Advocates and experts for GBV in online spaces shared their experiences and key methods during their presentations and Q&A session.  This dialogue highlighted the importance of establishing safe online spaces for citizens, civil societies, and human rights activists to develop GBV issues in Asia. Especially, under the COVID-19 pandemic, more abusive reactions in the digital spaces have been observed as the demands for online activities have risen. The international and domestic governance teams should take immediate and effective actions for securing safe online spaces for everyone.  Nandhini Mazumder, Assistant Coordinator at ASAP gave the opening presentation highlighting the online GBV issues enabled by the AI algorithm, privacy, surveillance, and censorship.   The event was divided into two-panel discussions. The first panel focused on the experiences of managing digital spaces, such as tele-helplines, social media accounts and online activism. It was facilitated by Natassha, Senior Advocacy Officer at IPPF ESEAOR. Each panelist brought a unique experience and innovative ideas to navigate gender spaces online. Our first panelist, Kris Anne, an active IPPF Youth Volunteer, Family Planning Organisations of Philippines (FPOP). She is a trained peer educator and as well as a trained Community-Based Screening Motivator. She emphasized the role of the internet as an SRHR advocacy tool against GBV. She talked about Your Hotline, an online hotline through social media (FB), which contributed to creating safe spaces. Despite the challenges, they are working on building their digital security and pushing for gender-sensitive packages. The second panelist, Amalia from Women on Web has been involved in many research and advocacy projects on SRHR. She has also been an active member of PurpleCode Collective, a collective working towards a feminist internet. Amalia talked about building online solidarity spaces. Through this, we can strengthen collaborative actions and challenge the adversaries together with the government, civil society, and big tech companies.   Our third panelist, Pushpa Joshi, a co-founder of YoSHAN Nepal is working on multiple SRHR activities digitally. An advent advocate of legalizing sex work in Nepal, Pushpa is working day and night against the rising sexism and hate speech in online spaces. To tackle this, they are collectively working to curb misinformation and share correct information about SRHR. Our final panelist, Noval Auliady from Jakarta Feminist has created the carilayanan.com as a cyber-based response to SGBV (Sexual and Gender-Based Violence) in Indonesia. While sharing his motivation to create this platform, Noval said, “We recognize that people live with their perpetrators. We give them options to access help safely.” He further emphasized the power of youth people and our actions, “Don’t stop talking, tweeting, and posting!”   The second panel was an expert discussion facilitated by Ayesha Bashir, ASAP who interviewed Kirthi Jayakumar to discuss the larger issues of the role of feminist movements, the challenges we face to build safe spaces online and how can we use technology to empower ourselves. Kirthi Jayakumar is a lawyer and feminist researcher. She founded The Gender Security Project, a digital repository on the WPS Agenda and Conflict-related Sexual Violence. She coded Saahas, a mobile app and chatbot to help survivors of gender-based violence find help across 196 countries, and to enable bystander intervention. Kirthi eloquently described the issues we as feminists face while accessing technologies. She also discussed in detail the patriarchal structures that make online spaces rigid, unaccountable, and inaccessible to women and gender non-conforming individuals. She inspired us to not give up and to identify the role of technology to visibilise ourselves and feminize online spaces. In her words, “there is power in numbers. We must get our voice heard while we celebrate our own differences.”  She added, “technologies have the power to empower, however, we also need to develop education, regulation, and legal systems for safer online spaces.” In her closing remarks, Dr. Suchitra Dalvie, co-founder of ASAP, fueled our activism by adding, “Tomorrow is already here and if we want to lead the conversation around the issues, we care about deeply we have a responsibility to understand the shifting and blurring of issues that are core to our work.”   Banner illustration by Shreya Tingal.  Graphic recordings by Claudine Delfin.  Watch the recording here.

16 Days of Activism 2021 - Transforming Tech & Tackling Taboos
story

| 10 December 2021

16 Days of Activism 2021 - Transforming Tech & Tackling Taboos

On the 10th of December 2021, IPPF ESEAOR and Asia Safe Abortion Partnership (ASAP) organized a panel discussion about online activities and SRHR in Asia. Advocates and experts for GBV in online spaces shared their experiences and key methods during their presentations and Q&A session.  This dialogue highlighted the importance of establishing safe online spaces for citizens, civil societies, and human rights activists to develop GBV issues in Asia. Especially, under the COVID-19 pandemic, more abusive reactions in the digital spaces have been observed as the demands for online activities have risen. The international and domestic governance teams should take immediate and effective actions for securing safe online spaces for everyone.  Nandhini Mazumder, Assistant Coordinator at ASAP gave the opening presentation highlighting the online GBV issues enabled by the AI algorithm, privacy, surveillance, and censorship.   The event was divided into two-panel discussions. The first panel focused on the experiences of managing digital spaces, such as tele-helplines, social media accounts and online activism. It was facilitated by Natassha, Senior Advocacy Officer at IPPF ESEAOR. Each panelist brought a unique experience and innovative ideas to navigate gender spaces online. Our first panelist, Kris Anne, an active IPPF Youth Volunteer, Family Planning Organisations of Philippines (FPOP). She is a trained peer educator and as well as a trained Community-Based Screening Motivator. She emphasized the role of the internet as an SRHR advocacy tool against GBV. She talked about Your Hotline, an online hotline through social media (FB), which contributed to creating safe spaces. Despite the challenges, they are working on building their digital security and pushing for gender-sensitive packages. The second panelist, Amalia from Women on Web has been involved in many research and advocacy projects on SRHR. She has also been an active member of PurpleCode Collective, a collective working towards a feminist internet. Amalia talked about building online solidarity spaces. Through this, we can strengthen collaborative actions and challenge the adversaries together with the government, civil society, and big tech companies.   Our third panelist, Pushpa Joshi, a co-founder of YoSHAN Nepal is working on multiple SRHR activities digitally. An advent advocate of legalizing sex work in Nepal, Pushpa is working day and night against the rising sexism and hate speech in online spaces. To tackle this, they are collectively working to curb misinformation and share correct information about SRHR. Our final panelist, Noval Auliady from Jakarta Feminist has created the carilayanan.com as a cyber-based response to SGBV (Sexual and Gender-Based Violence) in Indonesia. While sharing his motivation to create this platform, Noval said, “We recognize that people live with their perpetrators. We give them options to access help safely.” He further emphasized the power of youth people and our actions, “Don’t stop talking, tweeting, and posting!”   The second panel was an expert discussion facilitated by Ayesha Bashir, ASAP who interviewed Kirthi Jayakumar to discuss the larger issues of the role of feminist movements, the challenges we face to build safe spaces online and how can we use technology to empower ourselves. Kirthi Jayakumar is a lawyer and feminist researcher. She founded The Gender Security Project, a digital repository on the WPS Agenda and Conflict-related Sexual Violence. She coded Saahas, a mobile app and chatbot to help survivors of gender-based violence find help across 196 countries, and to enable bystander intervention. Kirthi eloquently described the issues we as feminists face while accessing technologies. She also discussed in detail the patriarchal structures that make online spaces rigid, unaccountable, and inaccessible to women and gender non-conforming individuals. She inspired us to not give up and to identify the role of technology to visibilise ourselves and feminize online spaces. In her words, “there is power in numbers. We must get our voice heard while we celebrate our own differences.”  She added, “technologies have the power to empower, however, we also need to develop education, regulation, and legal systems for safer online spaces.” In her closing remarks, Dr. Suchitra Dalvie, co-founder of ASAP, fueled our activism by adding, “Tomorrow is already here and if we want to lead the conversation around the issues, we care about deeply we have a responsibility to understand the shifting and blurring of issues that are core to our work.”   Banner illustration by Shreya Tingal.  Graphic recordings by Claudine Delfin.  Watch the recording here.

2 women in Pakistan
story

| 28 February 2022

Serving Afghan refugees in Pakistan - Update from RESPOND

UNHCR  recorded approximately 1.4 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan in 2021, with 30,000 arriving in August alone as the Taliban took control in Afghanistan. The Pakistani Government's capacity to respond to this humanitarian crisis remains limited given the scale of need. Living conditions in many camps are poor, with overcrowding a major challenge. Pervasive gender inequality and a de-prioritisation of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) care mean that women and girls are particularly vulnerable and at heightened risk of illness and death from preventable causes including unsafe abortions and maternal complications. With support from the Australian Government, IPPF is addressing SRH needs through the RESPOND program. This program, running across 19 countries where IPPF has a presence, aims to serve 13,440 Afghan refugees in Pakistan over two years (2021-2023).  IPPF Pakistani Member Association (MA), the Rahnuma Family Planning Association of Pakistan (FPAP), is central to these efforts. Since the onset of RESPOND in August 2021, FPAP has already conducted 37 medical camps reaching over 2,000 people across Peshawar and Khyber Agency districts in KP, and in Quetta and Pishin districts in Balochistan, housing the most Afghan refugees in the country. Almost 40 per cent of women and girls accessing care with FPAP are below the age of 20. Some of the clients being reached have been refugees in Pakistan for a long time, whereas others have recently crossed the border. Once in Pakistan, they have limited access to government services.   Women and girls make up 96 per cent of clients accessing the FPAP medical camps. Most women being treated are married with children, with the overwhelming majority seeking SRH services for: Obstetric, gynaecological and antenatal care Menstruation support Sexually Transmissible Infections (STIs) Sexual and Gender-based violence (SGBV) Family planning With the unfolding humanitarian crisis, access to family planning enables women and girls to control whether and when to have children. Currently, FPAP reports that almost half of clients (49%) in the camps are opting for the oral conceptive pill, whilst 1 in 5 are seeking condoms and a smaller proportion are accessing Sayana Press (a form of contraceptive injectable that lasts for 3 months). Long-term methods such as IUDs are not very popular, likely because they’re deemed invasive to privacy or culturally inappropriate. A major challenge in the camps being reported right now is SGBV. FPAP staff has reported a worrying lack of counselling and mental health services available for refugees in KP and Balochistan, in addition to clinical care for survivors of sexual violence. As such, SGBV remains a key priority of FPAP when delivering medical camps.  Nasrin , aged 38, reported ongoing physical and emotional abuse at the hands of male family members. Married with four children, her husband is drug user and as such, the family’s only source of income is from Nasrin’s brother-in-law, who repeatedly beat her. With no financial means to support herself if she were to leave, Nasrin attended the camp to see guidance from FPAP. FPAP was able to provide counselling, clinical care, and connected her with a local NGO focused on women-led income generation.  Supporting women like Nasrin gives rise to the profound impact that the RESPOND program is having. Afghan women and girls are so often silenced, and their health and wellbeing needs are regularly ignored. For many Afghani refugees encamped in Pakistan, services enabled through RESPOND are a lifeline to receive essential SRH care and ensure the futures of those most vulnerable.  

2 women in Pakistan
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| 28 February 2022

Serving Afghan refugees in Pakistan - Update from RESPOND

UNHCR  recorded approximately 1.4 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan in 2021, with 30,000 arriving in August alone as the Taliban took control in Afghanistan. The Pakistani Government's capacity to respond to this humanitarian crisis remains limited given the scale of need. Living conditions in many camps are poor, with overcrowding a major challenge. Pervasive gender inequality and a de-prioritisation of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) care mean that women and girls are particularly vulnerable and at heightened risk of illness and death from preventable causes including unsafe abortions and maternal complications. With support from the Australian Government, IPPF is addressing SRH needs through the RESPOND program. This program, running across 19 countries where IPPF has a presence, aims to serve 13,440 Afghan refugees in Pakistan over two years (2021-2023).  IPPF Pakistani Member Association (MA), the Rahnuma Family Planning Association of Pakistan (FPAP), is central to these efforts. Since the onset of RESPOND in August 2021, FPAP has already conducted 37 medical camps reaching over 2,000 people across Peshawar and Khyber Agency districts in KP, and in Quetta and Pishin districts in Balochistan, housing the most Afghan refugees in the country. Almost 40 per cent of women and girls accessing care with FPAP are below the age of 20. Some of the clients being reached have been refugees in Pakistan for a long time, whereas others have recently crossed the border. Once in Pakistan, they have limited access to government services.   Women and girls make up 96 per cent of clients accessing the FPAP medical camps. Most women being treated are married with children, with the overwhelming majority seeking SRH services for: Obstetric, gynaecological and antenatal care Menstruation support Sexually Transmissible Infections (STIs) Sexual and Gender-based violence (SGBV) Family planning With the unfolding humanitarian crisis, access to family planning enables women and girls to control whether and when to have children. Currently, FPAP reports that almost half of clients (49%) in the camps are opting for the oral conceptive pill, whilst 1 in 5 are seeking condoms and a smaller proportion are accessing Sayana Press (a form of contraceptive injectable that lasts for 3 months). Long-term methods such as IUDs are not very popular, likely because they’re deemed invasive to privacy or culturally inappropriate. A major challenge in the camps being reported right now is SGBV. FPAP staff has reported a worrying lack of counselling and mental health services available for refugees in KP and Balochistan, in addition to clinical care for survivors of sexual violence. As such, SGBV remains a key priority of FPAP when delivering medical camps.  Nasrin , aged 38, reported ongoing physical and emotional abuse at the hands of male family members. Married with four children, her husband is drug user and as such, the family’s only source of income is from Nasrin’s brother-in-law, who repeatedly beat her. With no financial means to support herself if she were to leave, Nasrin attended the camp to see guidance from FPAP. FPAP was able to provide counselling, clinical care, and connected her with a local NGO focused on women-led income generation.  Supporting women like Nasrin gives rise to the profound impact that the RESPOND program is having. Afghan women and girls are so often silenced, and their health and wellbeing needs are regularly ignored. For many Afghani refugees encamped in Pakistan, services enabled through RESPOND are a lifeline to receive essential SRH care and ensure the futures of those most vulnerable.