2015 Annual Report


Rallying for Sexual and Reproductive Rights

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Reflections from the Executive Director

Sivananthi Thanenthiran

ARROW Executive Director


2015 was a critical year for ARROW and the NGO community. The year marked the end of the era of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and the beginning of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The time of transitioning to a new global set of development goals, indicators, and targets was indeed a pivotal moment. Compared to the MDGs, the sustainable development goals (SDGs) materialised through consultations and negotiations led by Member States.

The period of the intergovernmental negotiations, which ran from January to July, saw the United Nations (UN) open up spaces for civil society. These spaces allowed for us to actively make statements during the negotiations, through open processes of nomination, voting, and selection. Spaces also began to be allocated to the private sector development stakeholders pushed by the UN as key partners in funding and implementing sustainable development: a move that expands the power and influence of business in the development sector.

"For us, ARROW women, our more than two decades of work on evidence generation and perspective building brought us in good standing at international spaces."

We were selected to speak in six of the eight intergovernmental sessions in 2015. The presence of ARROW women was also felt strongly at the UN Sustainable Development Summit in September, being one of the 24 participants from around the world to officially represent civil society. It was indeed a proud moment for us, to see women from the Global South standing up again, and again, and again for sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR): an agenda strengthened by our intersectionality analysis, which helped elaborate the links between gender equality, health, SRHR, climate change, right to food and nutrition, and other sustainable development issues. Our unrelenting commitment to SRHR, and the investments we made to mobilise action, positioned us as a global CSO player in the various post-2015 development agenda processes.

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ARROW's Network of Partners and Global Reach in 2015

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Networks and Committees We Work With or Are Part of:

  • ActionAid Research on Inter-linkages between Young Women's Economic Rights and SRHR International Advisory and Expert Group
  • AP-RCEM Thematic Working Group on SRHR, Gender and Sexuality
  • ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN People's Forum 2015 (ACSC/APF) Regional Steering Committee
  • Asia Pacific Conference on Reproductive and Sexual Health and Rights (APCRSHR) International Steering Committee
  • Asia-Pacific Regional CSO Engagement Mechanism (AP-RCEM)
  • Asia-Pacific Safe Abortion Partnership (ASAP)
  • Asia-Pacific Women's Watch (APWW)
  • Asian Rural Women's Coalition (ARWC)
  • Association for Women in Development (AWID)
  • Civil Society Platform to Promote SRHR Beyond 2015
  • Coalition for Sexual and Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies (CSBR)
  • Feminist Watch on Fundamentalisms
  • FP2020 Rights and Empowerment Working Group
  • Global Network on the Right to Food and Nutrition (GNRtFN) (observer) I
  • International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP)
  • International Initiative on Maternal Mortality and Human Rights (IIMMHR)
  • International Women and Health Meeting (IWHM)
  • Observatory on Universality of Rights (OURs)
  • Population and Sustainable Development Alliance (PSDA)
  • Post-2015 Intergovernmental Negotiations Stakeholder Steering Committee (March, April and May sessions)
  • Post-2015 Women's Coalition
  • Reproductive Rights Advocacy Alliance Malaysia (RRAAM)
  • Right to Food and Nutrition Watch Editorial Board
  • UNFPA Global Civil Society Advisory Panel
  • UN General Assembly Hearings on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, May 2015
  • Unzip the Lips
  • Women's Major Group (WMG)
  • Women’s Working Group for Financing for Development
  • Young Urban Women's Project
  • Youth Leadership Working Group

"Our global partnership will be successful when we reach the most marginalised communities. We need to prevent early age marriage for girls in villages, ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health services for the poor, and create a world free from violence and discrimination for all.

For THAT we need to uphold the HIGHEST STANDARDS, even if they are CONTENTOUS."

Sivananthi Thanenthiran

Executive Director of ARROW, addressing the UN General Assembly during the UN Sustainable Development Summit in September 2015.

Read ARROW's statement of the outcome document here.

Championing SRHR at the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Process

Since ARROW’s founding, we have been monitoring progress in the uptake and implementation of commitments to SRHR, from a Global South perspective. To ensure that our interventions are relevant, we operate in a circular mode that is, we bring our analysis from the ground to the national, regional, and international halls of decision making, and vice versa.

Because systemic change requires concerted advocacy efforts at multiple fronts—often occurring at the same time—the sharing of knowledge and tools is high on our agenda. With our research and project partners, we engage in mutual sharing and learning exercises, to build capacity and launch effective actions.

While the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) framework was successful in “raising the bar” for international development cooperation, inequalities and sustainability threats persist.

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Monitoring SRHR Status in the Global South Made Possible Through Partnerships

Today, our SRHR monitoring framework titled “Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Database of Indicators” contains 47 key SRHR indicators, with data for 50 countries around the world. Our data is critical for advocacy around the development and implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Read page 14 of the Annual Report for more


We presented at six of the eight intergovernmental sessions in 2015, and served as Steering Committee members of some sessions. As Steering Committee members, we had the opportunity to facilitate the participation of CSOs as resource persons and/or members of succeeding Steering Committees.

Of the 435 CSO applications received by the UN to formally address participants of the UN Sustainable Development Summit 2015, ARROW was the only women’s rights and SRHR organisation invited to speak. The Summit was the site where governments adopted and signed on to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development—the outcome document of monthly intergovernmental sessions that took place during the year.

Read page 15-17 of the Annual Report for more

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SRHR Champions

Bridging Siloes: Intersectionalities and Inter-movements

In ARROW, we believe that a woman’s access to SRHR is affected by many factors. In our view, gender equality, human rights, social justice, and ultimately, sustainable development cannot be realised if the SRHR of all are not guaranteed. We approach all aspects of our work through an intersectional lens—whether it is in investigating development issues and trends, in designing our capacity strengthening activities, and/or in advocating for social change. In doing so, we hope to offer development stakeholders with a holistic analysis that surfaces the root causes of, and systemic challenges to universal SRHR.


Countries within the Asia-Pacific region are among the most vulnerable to climate change. How climate change exacerbates vulnerabilities of women, especially as these relate to SRHR, is not well understood.

Within the ARROW project, “Building New Constituencies for SRHR, Gender, and Climate Change,” we are examining the links between SRHR and climate change across eight countries in Asia.

Read 24-25 of the Annual Report for more


In 2015 we officially closed our project, “Revitalising and Strengthening the SRHR Agenda through Inter-movement Work to Impact the ICPD+20 and the MDG+15 Processes.” The project received positive feedback on its external review. Aside from producing cutting-edge publications on the intersections of SRHR with food security, and the right to food and nutrition, our achievements surpassed projected networking and advocacy plans, and we were successful in building cross-movement linkages across SRHR, food sovereignty, food security, and poverty movements. During the year, an ARROW staff became a proud member of the Editorial Board of the journal, Right to Food and Nutrition Watch.

Read 26 of the Annual Report for more


In 2015, our partnership's research for advocacy across 10 countries higlighted the links between religion, gender-based violence, and SRHR violations. At the international level, we offered several UN human rights mechanisms with evidence on the pernicious effects of religion.

Read 26-27 of the Annual Report for more


People with disabilities (PWDs) are among the more marginalised groups in development planning, and are largely invisible within SRHR discourse. Similarly, the SRHR of PWDs are often invisible at PWD conferences and meetings. During the year we engaged in two PWD-focused fora as advocacy trainer and speaker/participant. For us, it was a rewarding experience to share our work, and in turn, learn from PWDs where there was room for our own conceptual and methodological improvement.

Read 28-29 of the Annual Report for more


ARROW also had interventions on migration, young women's economic rights, and women and work, and key affected women and girls. Read page 29 of the Annual Report for more.

Click above to see other photos of our inter-movement work.

Online and Printed Advocacy Materials Produced for COP21

Strengthening Advocacy Capacities of Women and Youth

SRHR-supportive policies or commitments at international level do not always reach women, young people, and marginalised groups in countries. For this to happen, they need to receive the latest information on their rights and entitlements, and they need to build the confidence to demand for their respective governments to take action, amongst other actions needed.

Through our joint activities, we mobilise youth idealism and energies, and we strengthen broad-based and national alliances for change to occur at ground level. Our close interaction with young people and community women also helps to make sure that our interventions at global level resonate with actual experiences on the ground.


In 2015, we welcomed three initiatives that gave new energy to our on-going work with young SRHR advocates and leaders.

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After the launch of our SAFE (Sexuality Awareness for Everyone) app in Malaysia last year, we were pleased to receive the news that SHE Maldives was interested to adopt our mobile app. SAFE app was initially designed for the Malaysian youth—to educate them on CSE, and provide them with online resources, such as a clinic and pharmacy locator. During the year, we supported SHE Maldives in liaising with the app’s developers, to make the app more fit for the context of young people in Maldives.

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ASEAN Women’s Forum

With APWLD, IWRAW-AP, the Southeast Asian Women’s Caucus, and WAO, ARROW co-organised the first ASEAN Women’s Forum, held back-to-back with the ASEAN People’s Forum. The Forum gathered 400 participants, and tackled four priority themes: development justice, democratic processes, governance and fundamental rights and freedoms, and peace. Women leaders from each ASEAN country spoke of their issues and demands to their governments and to the regional body.

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The Women’s Health and Rights Advocacy Partnership (WHRAP) aims to strengthen the SRHR agenda by empowering women and young people to claim their rights, and ensure government accountability to usher in real changes at the ground level. Operationalised in two sub-regions, WHRAP-South East Asia (WHRAP-SEA) conducts activities to improve SRHR outcomes for young people, while WHRAP-South Asia (WHRAP-SA) works with community-based organisations (CBOs) and community women to entrench a rights-based continuum of quality care (CQC) in project implementation areas.

WHRAP-South East Asia

In 2015, we wrapped up our work in South East Asia with an external evaluation, and the revitalisation of the Regional Youth Moving (RYM) for SRHR Network. WHRAP-SEA received a positive evaluation, and identified several promising strategies for the future programming of youth-led and youth-focused initiatives.

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WHRAP-South Asia

ARROW’s longest running and funded partnership initiative— now on its 13th year of implementation—WHRAP-SA’s CQC work is still on-going, and continues to show sustained examples of resistance from community-based organisations (CBOs), community women and groups, and through the voluntary acts of local government and health officials. There is evidence that stakeholder collaboration is creating ripples of change, infrastructural improvements are being made, and quality and safer health care are being delivered (see WHRAP-SA milestones).

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Read 34-38 of the Annual Report for more



SRHR Champions

Stimulating Social Change Through Information and Communications

Information and communications (infocom) is vital to ARROW’s advocacy. With a reach of more than 114 countries around the world, our infocom work serves to build a critical mass of supporters for SRHR, as well as provide them with the latest analysis, and carefully curated (and intersecting) news items on the topic. Because existing and potential SRHR champions are very diverse, and are dispersed all over the world, we constantly search for creative methods of strategic communications, and innovative and affordable infocom technologies.

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ARROW publications are essential for her perspective building work to advance the SRHR agenda, from a Global South and women’s perspective. Attesting to the relevance of her analysis, during the year, selected ARROW publications were made available through other online databases, libraries and websites—such as EBSCO, Academia.edu, and ShareNet International.

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Database Updation Project

In 2015, ARROW updated her contacts database, with support from 20 of her partners worldwide.

Read 44-45 of the Annual Report for more


“Strengthening SRHR Capacities of Partners” is a partnership project of 15 organisations in the Asia-Pacific region. It aims to deepen collaboration and global SRHR outreach on universal access to sexual and reproductive health. During the year, the project underwent an external mid-term review. The review found our work to be well on track, cost-efficient in project spending, and successful at enlarging our global visibility.

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National | Regional/International Advocacy Highlights

Read 46 of the Annual Report for more


Compared to health issues, sexual and reproductive rights are often seen as contentious issues. Under this initiative, ARROW works with 14 country partners to generate evidence for national policy dialogues, and a regional social media campaign.

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During the year, there too was evidence of an increasing recognition of ARROW as a competent regional/international campaigner. This was manifested by the Women’s Major Group invitation for ARROW to lead the group’s communication activities at the April to July sessions of the intergovernmental negotiations, and spearhead its #WhatWomenWant in #Post-2015 campaign.

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Organisational Development and Finance

Our continuous efforts to strengthen ARROW’s organisational framework serves two goals: for her to remain an effective advocate of change, and for her to serve as a good example of feminist governance and systems management.

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Of the four ARROW projects reviewed during the year, two were mid-term reviews: WHRAP-SA and Strengthening the Networking, Knowledge Management and Advocacy Capacity of an Asia-Pacific Network for SRHR; and the other two were end-of-the project evaluations: WHRAP-SEA, and Revitalising and Strengthening the SRHR Agenda through Intermovement Work to Impact the ICPD+20 and the MDG+15 Processes.

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Over the years, we’ve seen progressive growth in our portfolio of projects and partners. This resulted in a tremendous amount of information and knowledge flows that we needed to capture, and whose intersections we needed to understand better.

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Next year is a transitional year for the organisation, as we conclude our current strategic plan, and move on to planning for the next five years.

During the year, ARROW staff participated in several “looking back” and “forward looking” exercises to assess her work (and work modalities); account for today’s trends, perceived risks, and opportunities; and gather data for next year’s joint five-year strategic planning session, with members of her Board of Directors (BoD), Programme Advisory Committee (PAC), partners/networks, and other allies.

Read 51-52 of the Annual Report for more


In 2015, our five-member BoD met three times: twice for their regular governance meetings; and once, to attend the 22nd Annual General Meeting of ARROW. In addition, BoD members Naeemah Khan, Rashidah Shuib, and Pramada Menon participated in the November Board-Staff Retreat.

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Of the ten members of ARROW’s Programme Advisory Committee, Otgonbaatar Tsedendemberel, Renu Khanna, and Sundari Ravindran joined ARROW staff and BoD member Rashidah Shuib (observer) in May, to discuss ARROW’s future programmatic directions.

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ARROW ended 2015 with 21 staff members, each representing diverse backgrounds, and disciplines in the Asia-Pacific region. Apart from two remote-based staff members in Sri Lanka and Thailand, all ARROW women are based in Malaysia.

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Staff Trainings/Seminars Conducted in 2015

Read 54-57 of the Annual Report for more





ARROW enjoyed a financially viable year in 2015 through the sustained core funding support of the Ford Foundation and Sida, and the generous support of our current project funders. During the year, we successfully secured new funding for three initiatives, with a total approved budget of USD600,000 from the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale (GIZ), David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and the MacArthur Foundation.

In the first half of 2015, ARROW projects supported by the Danish Family Planning Association (DFPA), the European Union (EU), and the Norwegian Agency for Development (Norad) underwent project audits, in addition to our annual statutory audits as an organisation registered in Malaysia.


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Our total budget for 2015 was USD2,700,379—this represents USD2,297,373 of allocated and new funding for the year, and an amount of USD403,006 carried over from 2014. Project funding represented 68% of this year’s budget.

During the year, our total operational costs was USD2,689,337; 10.6% less than last year’s costs (USD3,022,011), mainly due to favourable exchange rates. Due to the intensity of our engagement within the post-2015 sustainable development process, a significant amount of this year’s funding went to activities under ARROW’s programme objective 2. New funding received for this year was also channelled towards programme objective 2, resulting in increased activity uptake.


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