The Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW) is committed to supporting efforts in mainstreaming gender perspectives in health, population and reproductive health policies and programmes. One of ARROW’s strategies for policy advocacy is to build a body of knowledge on action research that focuses on analyses of health policies and programmes. ARROW therefore recognises the need for a stronger articulation, analysis and documentation of health issues by women’s groups. In accordance with these goals and based on the recommendations of the Beijing Platform for Action (Beijing PFA, section on Women and Health ), ARROW developed this regional research project to assess women’s access to gender-sensitive health programmes and services. Funded by the UK Department of International Development (DFID) and the FORD Foundation, India office, the project began in December 1997 and was completed in 2001. The project examines health programme implementation and assesses the extent to which major governmental and non-government health organisations are addressing key factors such as affordability, physical access, gender-sensitive and women-centred quality of care in health programmes and services in six countries in the region.
This project constitutes an invaluable experience, not just for the researchers, but also because it is a pioneer effort for the Asian region. In many of the country case studies, it was the first time that women clients and service providers were actively included as research participants, rather than subjects. The project was unique not only for its use of qualitative methods for health research, but it also spawned advocacy tasks from the results of its findings