Repressive laws, an impendent to the sexual health and reproductive rights of women and girls – SheDecides Activists.
Activist from over 14 across the continent including our Team Leader and also a global She Decides champion gathered in Nairobi Kenya from 28th – 31st of October for the SheDecides Africa Regional Convening. The convening organized under the theme: “An Africa where SheDecides” was aimed at developing a regional strategy for She Decides to inform collective action in the next two years including the articulation of several opportunities for multi-country action in Africa.
United in its vision, the SheDecides Movement, is working to create a better, safer and stronger world where every girl and every woman can safely exercise her right to decide for herself what she does with her body, who she shares her body with and whether she wants to have children. She must have access to education and information about her body and her options, modern contraception and safe abortion.
SheDecides was launched in March 2017 when 53 governments came together to confront the effects of the Global Gag Rule. In one year approximately $450 millions of new funding was pledged. Since then, over 120,000 Friends in 183 countries have signed the manifesto, and 43 high profile Champions, including 13 Ministers, are leading the Movement, taking action to promote sexual and reproductive health and rights in their own capacities. In Africa, champions are standing up and speaking out from Dakar to Cape Town.
The first SheDecides Day flagship event was held in South Africa in 2018 and sparked the birth of local movements in Uganda, followed by the Democratic Republic of Congo. SheDecides Kenya was launched on 2 March 2019 on the second-ever SheDecides Day.
The movement has taken root in the continent with local movements emerging in Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania and, Zambia. However, its measure of growth in Africa should not be reduced to numbers – The quality of growth is equally important. This is evident in East Africa, where SheDecides Kenya and Uganda have supported Tanzania in its launch plan though a solidarity visit, where they offered practical advice and support based on their experiences. Similarly, in Francophone Africa, SheDecides DRC has helped Friends in Cameroon and Senegal reach more people by sharing French language materials. In Southern Africa, friends of SheDecides continue to influence the SADC process on the SADC Scorecard and Strategy by participating in the Technical Working Group tasked with guiding the process and actively engaging in a CSO-led community of practice.
As part of the key highlights from the regional convening, She Decides friends called for more efforts to support grassroots organizing and take the She Decides gospel to the communities where violation of the rights of women and girls is still very prevalent.
Activists also blamed the repressive policies and laws as a major impendent to realizing gender equality and called for an end to all forms of social cultural and religious barriers that undermine the rights of women and girls.
Comprehensive access to quality sexual and reproductive health information and services was sighted out as key strategy to giving women the power and agency to decides.
Compiled by UYAHF comms team. firstname.lastname@example.org