As a global organization, the Center for Reproductive Rights works in regions around the world, in more than 60 countries, and in many social contexts. Partnerships are central to how we do our work: strong relationships with civil organizations, human rights lawyers, and advocacy groups in each region facilitates to peer-to-peer learning and collaboration. In creating an integrated and coordinated movement, we are more effective at realizing reproductive rights throughout the world.
Recently, the Center held the 7th annual convening of our first of these regional partnership networks that we founded, the South Asia Reproductive Justice and Accountability Initiative (SARJAI). The network, formed in 2012, brought together human rights lawyers, reproductive rights experts, and scholars from across South Asia to jointly work on the project of improving legal accountability for reproductive rights violations in the region, and to develop more robust protections for the reproductive and sexual health needs of women and girls.
This year’s convening was held in May in Kathmandu and was attended by more than 40 participants from five different countries. Over the course of three days, human rights lawyers and advocates from across the South Asia region worked together to devise a unified road map forward. This year, the network identified three key areas of focus:
- Addressing legal barriers to access to abortion and post-abortion care, including decriminalization
- Creating an empowering legal framework to ensure the sexual and reproductive health and rights of adolescents, and
- Engaging the judiciary
“Every day, SARJAI network members are on the front lines, fighting for the reproductive rights of girls and women. They have seen the impact that restrictive abortion laws have on women throughout South Asia and the compounded effect they have on marginalized populations, such as adolescents,” said Payal Shah, Acting Regional Director for Asia. “SARJAI allows us to use our collective power to strengthen our advocacy on the issues most critical to the movement to accelerate progress and see more immediate results.”
Since its inception seven years ago, SARJAI members have developed and filed successful litigation before national courts in the region. Notably, Manju & Others v. Nepal, which requested that the government of Nepal ensure universal access to modern contraceptives and related information, and Dr. Shershah Syed & Others v. Province of Sindh, which called upon the Government of Pakistan provide affordable and accessible care and information to treat fistula, both important steps forward for the women and girls of the region.