October 12, 2014
Film and booklet on rural women’s struggle for sexual and reproductive health and rights launched
A film and booklet that documents the everyday lives of rural women struggling for their sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) was launched today in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, as the Asian-Pacific Resource & Research Centre for Women (ARROW) celebrates its 21st anniversary.
The Women’s Travelling Journal on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (WTJ-SRHR) is a landmark achievement in making the voices of women in rural communities in the Global South heard. Through entries in a journal that travelled across 11 countries in Asia and three countries in Africa, women shared their personal and communities’ stories. These stories show the persistence and gravity of SRHR-related problems, such as forced marriage, unsafe abortions, female genital mutilation, and maternal deaths. The Asian Rural Women’s Coalition (ARWC) and ARROW spearheaded the journal.
In its strategic planning meeting, ARROW launched the journal’s accompanying film. The film brings together video footages and photos taken by rural communities. These footages and photos show conditions of poverty and neglect, as well as how community women stand up, educate and mobilise for SRHR. The film features excerpts from the journal, which voice the women’s concerns over lack of access to SRHR information and services.
ARROW is a regional women’s NGO that since 1993 has been working to advance women’s health, affirmative sexuality and rights, and empower women. It values monitoring as a political tool to hold governments, donors and international agencies accountable to national and international commitments, including the targets of the International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action (ICPD) and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). ARROW is the only regional organisation that has consistently monitored and produced alternative indicators, databases and regional reports on progress towards achieving ICPD commitments since 1994.
The WTJ-SRHR is one of ARROW’s latest efforts to enjoin rural women in the struggle to include SRHR in the Post-2015 Development Agenda. ARROW’s painstaking research and advocacy work for the past two decades show that there is still a long way to go in achieving the goal of SRHR for all.
“Progress in the SRHR agenda has been unacceptably slow, as governments, donors and international agencies fail to prioritise, deliver on their commitments, and take the necessary holistic and critical approach to SRHR. Hostility to several dimensions of the SRHR agenda, such as abortion, adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights, and sexuality education, has even grown throughout the Asia and the Pacific region and within the international policy-making arenas through religious fundamentalist thinking,” said Sivananthi Thanenthiran, ARROW Executive Director.
Thanenthiran said that the travelling journal affirms the need to ensure that SRHR is part of the subsequent development agenda. “The film and booklet shows concretely how a lot of women—women who produce our food and constitute the vast majority of the population in the Global South—continue to suffer from burdens that the global community has been tasked to alleviate decades ago. We again renew our commitment to uphold SRHR for all, especially women in marginalised communities who have been unheard and unseen for the longest time. This travelling journal is our contribution to their struggle to be seen, heard, and enjoy sexual and reproductive health and rights.”
To view the film and download the booklet, please visit: http://travellingjournal.asianruralwomen.net/srhr