Joining Forces for Voices and Accountability Initiative
In partnership with IPPF's European Network, and with the support of UKaid, we are carrying out a five-year advocacy initiative in 11 countries in Latin America and Central Asia/Eastern Europe to strengthen the capacity of civil society organizations to hold national governments accountable for their commitments to gender equality and universal access to sexual and reproductive health services. The Voices project works to develop robust civil society coalitions, fortify the advocacy skills and strategies of our MAs, and create favorable sexual and reproductive health and rights policies and programs in each country. We accomplish these goals by providing educational trainings and workshops, on-going political analysis, pilot experiences assessing budget transparency, and technical assistance.
Impact in Eastern Europe & Central Asia
To foster a climate where policies and programs can meet the real-life needs of local communities, IPPF's European Network is working side-by-side with its Member Associations to advocate at the local, national, and international levels. In Albania, the Albanian Center for Population and Development played an important role in developing a dialogue among local and national institutions responsible for youth sexual and reproductive health. It was involved in the development of the National Reproductive Health Strategy, which was adopted in February 2010, and led a working group under the Ministry of Education to create a school curriculum that includes comprehensive sexuality education.
The Association XY has been working toward ensuring quality sexual and reproductive health information, education, and services in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It worked with the Ministry of Health to develop two national strategies that prioritize youth-friendly services and contributed to the development of a new, state-level HIV/AIDS strategy. “The Voices project has helped me to be more strategic about our efforts and improve the advocacy work of the organization overall,” reported Erol Mehmedovic, the Voices project coordinator at XY.
The Kazakhstan Association on Sexual and Reproductive Health has been actively collaborating with the Ministry of Health to finalize and adopt the National Reproductive Health Strategy it developed. This year, the Ministry of Health doubled the budget for social projects on sexual and reproductive health and allocated $40,000 for the provision of contraceptives for youth and socially vulnerable groups.
The Reproductive Health Alliance of Kyrgyzstan (RHAK) and its partners have played a crucial role in fighting for the inclusion of democratic and rights-based principles in the country’s newly rebuilding health system. Its focus has been on in-depth education of decision-makers at local and national levels on sexual and reproductive health and rights, particularly the need for youth-friendly services in a country where 70% of the population are youth.
“Changes in society begin with changes in attitude. Successful advocacy can happen when there is an understanding and belief that you can change the quality of life for many people in your country,” explains Galina Chirkina, RHAK’s Executive Director.
The Societatea de Planificare a Familiei din Moldova (SPFM) has been working to consolidate sexual and reproductive health legislation at local and national levels, improve the effectiveness of policy implementation, and ensure appropriate budget allocations for services. It was the official secretariat of a working group in charge of revising Moldova’s national health strategy and developing a plan of action for 2011-2015, and strengthened the advocacy capacities of young people who now sit in the Youth Parliament. SPFM created a 17-member coalition to promote sexual and reproductive health and rights and works with journalists to ensure news coverage that favours youth-friendly services and sexual rights.
In Tajikistan, the Tajik Family Planning Alliance (TFPA) has been working with the Ministry of Health to ensure safe abortion protocols and standards were developed and adopted by the country’s health systems, create tools to monitor and evaluate the national standards, and raise awareness of local and national decision-makers on sexual and reproductive health and rights. “The challenges related to ensuring safe abortion have become recognized by key politicians as one of the most important issues to improve maternal health in Tajikistan,” said Mokhsharif Nasrulloeva, TFPA’s Executive Director. “This is thanks to our work with the Voices project.”