NGOs Promote ICPD Implementation

Box 31

Non-governmental groups in many countries are actively working to ensure implementation of the Cairo and Beijing agreements. A few examples follow, based on reports from the International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC):

In India, NGOs including the network Health Watch are working to ensure that women are given a strong role in planning, monitoring and evaluating the new “target-free” family welfare programme. A priority is to support the provision of reproductive health services as part of a strengthened primary health care system. Another priority is educating family planning workers about providing quality reproductive health care; many are not yet aware of the government’s April 1996 decision to implement family planning throughout the country without targets for contraception and sterilization. Advocacy efforts are increasingly focused on effecting change at the state level.

In Russia, women’s organizations have helped shape a draft law criminalizing violence against women in the family and another that would guarantee women’s reproductive rights, and have worked to educate lawmakers about these issues.

In Chile, NGOs are providing information on reproductive health and rights to legislators, policy makers and the press. For example, Corporación de Salud y Políticas Sociales is helping parliamentarians draft legislation to reduce unwanted pregnancies and to meet the unmet need for reproductive health services and information.The health NGO Educación Popular en Salud and a network of community groups against HIV/AIDS recently organized a seminar for poor women in Santiago on the ways in which violence makes women more vulnerable to HIV infection. The 300 participants were shown how to communicate better with their partners, negotiate safer sex and defend themselves against violence.

In Brazil, women-led NGOs were instrumental in blocking a proposed constitutional amendment to guarantee life from the moment of conception; the measure would have effectively outlawed abortion (currently allowed in cases of rape or to save the life of the woman). With the help of an emergency grant from the IWHC, these groups helped educate the public, the media and lawmakers about the detrimental effects that such a measure would have on women’s health and rights.