Stories of Change: Sharing Success Stories of Women's Health and Rights Advocacy Partnership - South Asia
The Women’s Health and Rights Advocacy Partnership (WHRAP)-South Asia positions itself as an international partnership with a regional voice. The partnership brings together women-led organisations and other civil society actors for evidence based advocacy on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). Over the last 13 years, WHRAP-South Asia has facilitated and contributed to processes aimed at improving the quality of life of marginalised women in Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan through empowerment, strengthening civil society engagement and public support leading to better accountability for health governance.
In South Asia, social determinants such as poverty, educational status, food and nutrition and water and sanitation affect health outcomes. Discrimination and inequalities based on gender, caste, class, religion, disability, age and geographical location entrenched in society and institutions adversely impact access of rights including the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. In this context, WHRAP-South Asia’s rights-based approach includes the recognition that marginalised women in South Asia are rights-holders vis-à-vis the duty-bearers, the state authorities represented by government officials, health care providers, representatives of health facility based oversight mechanisms (OMs)1 and human rights guardian institutions (GIs).2 WHRAP-South Asia employs an approach whereby evidence is gathered locally and transformed into local, national, regional and international advocacy initiatives.
WHRAP-South Asia is implemented as a partnership programme between five leading national women’s organisations including Beyond Beijing Committee (BBC) in Nepal, Naripokkho in Bangladesh, Shirkat Gah in Pakistan, Centre for Health Education, Training and Nutrition Awareness (CHETNA) and SAHAYOG in India as national partners; their selected community-based partners that work directly with the women on the ground; and the Asian Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW) as its regional partner. The programme has been carried out in cooperation with and funded by the Danish Family Planning Association (DFPA). WHRAP-South Asia began as a project in 2003. Currently in its fourth phase, it aims to promote marginalised women’s SRHR. It calls for a context- specific and rights-based continuum of quality care (CQC) for women’s reproductive health in South Asia which spans across a woman’s lifecycle – before and during pregnancy to postpartum/postabortion and menopause – and across various locations, for example, the home, community and health facilities.3 CQC is crucial in order to reduce adolescent, maternal, newborn, and child mortality and morbidity and improve women’s SRHR.