The global SRHR movement went into 2011 with renewed expectations of commitment from governments, NGOs, donors and UN agencies towards the Cairo agenda. In December 2010, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution that called for an extension of the Programme of Action (PoA) of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD, also called Cairo) beyond 2014 to ensure its follow-up until all goals are fully met.
At the same time, the year 2011 was marked by incidents that both shocked and also raised hopes for a better future. We witnessed one of the most devastating disasters in the Asia and Pacific region, with Japan facing a triple assault of an earthquake, a tsunami and a nuclear crisis that resulted in 16,000 deaths and an estimated $300 billion in reconstruction costs. Another tragic occurrence in 2011 was the Norway killing spree where a single gunman armed with misguided beliefs, claimed many innocent lives.
Sparked by the self-immolation of a trader in Tunisia, symbolising unrest due to high unemployment and corruption, 2011 witnessed the ‘Arab Spring’—a people’s revolt across Middle East and North Africa, resulting in regime change in Egypt and Libya. Protests also exploded across Europe in Greece, Italy and Spain due to unprecedented financial crisis, while the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement in the United States captured the imagination of many who also started their own ‘occupy’ movements.
These events only helped demonstrate to ARROW that deepening inequality and inequity between and within countries, the lack of viable democracies, and the rise of social justice movements in response to these, will become key, defining political issues in the upcoming years.
While there is a call across many countries worldwide for greater economic equality and for greater democratic governance, it is important to examine how these developments work out for women and their broader socio-economic-political rights, as well as their sexual and reproductive rights. This is an opportunity to mainstream the sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) agenda within a broader call of inequality and inequity; as data demonstrate sexual and reproductive health outcomes are largely influenced by gender inequality and inequity.
In order to respond to this opportunity, ARROW pushed boldly forward on the global and regional SRHR agenda in 2011.