SRH Accountability in Ecuador (part 2)

Maritza Segura is FCI’s national coordinator in Ecuador. Last week, she and FCI colleagues helped to coordinate the launch of Ecuador’s National Sexual and Reproductive Rights and Health Observatory in Quito. You can read Maritza’s previous post about this meeting here. This successful technical meeting, organized by Ecuador’s National Health Council (CONASA) with generous support from the MacArthur Foundation, had a regional profile; at the end of the meeting, Maritza provides this update:

The role of Ecuador’s national Observatory will be critical – it will monitor and produce reports measuring the country’s fulfillment of its obligations around sexual and reproductive health and rights, with a particular focus on diversity, gender, and generational issues and on the rights of women in indigenous communities.

The Quito meeting was designed to foster a regional dialogue about accountability. In addition to Ecuadorian participants, delegates from similar observatories in Mexico, Guatemala, Peru, Chile, and Uruguay were invited to share their challenges, strategies, and lessons learned. While Latin America is quite diverse in terms of ethnicity, political dynamics, and other factors, all of the observatories share certain common challenges. Access to relevant data is often difficult, and transparency legislation varies from country to country. Processing statistics, updating data, translating it for different political and technical audiences, and producing relevant and timely reports are all complex, time-consuming, and costly. All of the national observatories shared concerns around their financial sustainability, because this kind of accountability work is only effective if data and analysis are produced on a consistent basis.

Accountability is becoming an increasingly important and visible issue in global health, both nationally and on the international stage, and these three days were an interesting and rewarding learning experience for all of the participants. These observatories, by providing relevant, up-to-date information, are an invaluable tool for strengthening political commitment to maternal health. For representatives of the national observatories, each of which has developed independently and organically based on each country’s unique conditions, this meeting provided a valuable opportunity to compare experiences, share ideas, and build relationships. For FCI’s part, we will continue developing and supporting strategies to articulate this regional vision, one that drives action and impact, demands accountability, ensures equity, and focuses on rights.

 

Rendición de cuentas en Ecuador (parte 2)

Maritza Segura es la coordinadora nacional de FCI en Ecuador. La semana pasada, junto con otras colegas de FCI, Maritza apoyó la presentación del Observatorio Nacional de Derechos y Salud Sexual y Reproductiva en Quito. La reunión técnica -que tuvo un perfil regional-  fue organizada por el CONASA, y con el generoso apoyo de la Fundación MacArthur, y fue sumamente exitosa. Pueden leer el post anterior de Maritza aquí. Finalizada la reunión, Maritza escribe:

El rol del Observatorio Nacional en Ecuador será fundamental para garantizar la rendición de cuentas. Se dará seguimiento al cumplimiento de las obligaciones del país en relación a la salud y los derechos sexuales y reproductivos, teniendo especialmente en cuenta la diversidad, y las cuestiones de género, de derechos y de interculturalidad.

El encuentro en Quito fue diseñado para promover además un diálogo regional sobre la rendición de cuentas. Además de los actores clave de Ecuador, fueron invitadas al encuentro delegadas de observatorios similares de México, Guatemala, Perú, Chile y Uruguay para compartir sus retos, estrategias y lecciones aprendidas. Si bien América Latina presenta condiciones muy diversas en términos étnicos, de dinámica política y avances jurídicos, todos los observatorios comparten algunas preocupaciones. Por ejemplo, el acceso a datos es a menudo difícil y la legislación sobre transparencia es diferente en cada país. El procesamiento y la actualización de los datos, la producción de informes relevantes y la adaptación y diseminación de la información para las diferentes audiencias técnicas y políticas son procesos complejos, exigentes y costosos.  Todos los observatorios compartes dificultades para su sustentabilidad financiera ya que solamente son efectivos si cuentan con una producción consistente de información actualizada, relevante y de calidad.

La rendición de cuentas es un tema cada vez más destacado en el área de la salud, tanto a nivel global como a nivel nacional y estos tres días constituyeron una experiencia de aprendizaje muy interesante para todos los participantes. Los observatorios tienen un enorme potencial tanto por su capacidad de generar información relevante como de movilizar compromiso político hacia la salud materna. Para los representantes de los Observatorios de ALC la reunión en Quito fue una oportunidad para comparar experiencias, compartir ideas y construir alianzas. Por nuestra parte, FCI continuará promoviendo la articulación de una visión regional que fortalezca la acción y el impacto de los Observatorios, asegurando la equidad y el ejercicio de derechos.

FCI helps launch Ecuador’s first Sexual and Reproductive Rights Observatory

Maritza Segura is FCI’s national coordinator in Ecuador.

FCI, along with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), and the Center for Research, Promotion and Popular Education (CIPEP), provided technical support to Ecuador’s National Health Council (CONASA) for the launch of Ecuador’s first National Sexual and Reproductive Rights Observatory.

The meeting, titled Towards the Ecuadorian Center of Human Rights and Sexual and Reproductive Health, is taking place in Quito from May 30th to June 1st. Participants include representatives from other observatories in the region, including Mexico, Guatemala, Chile, and Uruguay, who are sharing their experiences and lessons learned.

The meeting launches and seeks to strengthen the national Observatory for monitoring and reporting on the rate of compliance with health and reproductive rights, especially in relation to ethnic groups, diversity, gender, and generational issues.

CONASA is a representative body of members of the national health system, comprised of public, private, autonomous, and community health sectors. This meeting will include the nomination, by civil society participant organizations, of a citizen’s oversight board to participate in the construction and methodological definition of the Observatory.

It is expected that, in the medium and longer term, the Observatory will help lead to the reduction of maternal mortality in Ecuador, and will thereby help the country to achieve its targets under MDG (Millennium Development Goal) 5.

FCI is grateful for the generous support from the MacArthur Foundation.

 

FCI apoya la conformación del primer Observatorio de Salud y Derechos Sexuales y Reproductivos del Ecuador

Maritza Segura es coordinador nacional de FCI en Ecuador.

FCI, junto al Fondo de Población de las Naciones Unidas (UNFPA), la Organización Panamericana de la Salud (PAHO), y el Centro de Investigación, Promoción y Educación Popular, apoya al Consejo Nacional de Salud (CONASA) de Ecuador para conformar el primer Observatorio Nacional de Salud y Derechos Sexuales y Reproductivos.

Del 30 de mayo al 1ro de junio de 2011 se lleva a cabo en Quito la reunión “Hacia el Observatorio Ecuatoriano de Derechos y Salud Sexual y Reproductiva”, con la participación de representantes de otros observatorios exitosos de la región con el fin de compartir experiencias y lecciones aprendidas, entre ellos de los observatorios de México, Guatemala, Chile y Uruguay.

El encuentro tiene el objetivo de fortalecer la propuesta nacional de un Observatorio para la vigilancia e información sobre él índice de cumplimiento de la salud y los derechos sexuales y reproductivos, especialmente en grupos étnicos, diversidades, por género y generación.

En este marco, el CONASA, como organismo de representación de los integrantes del Sistema Nacional de Salud, conformado por entidades públicas, privadas, autónomas y comunitarias del sector salud, ha previsto que el evento incluya la nominación, por parte de las instituciones y organizaciones de la sociedad civil participantes, de un consejo ciudadano de veeduría que participarán en la construcción y definición metodológica del Observatorio.

Se espera que, a mediano y largo plazo, el accionar del Observatorio ayude al Ecuador a reducir la razón de mortalidad materna y, así, a lograr las metas del ODM 5.

FCI agradece el generoso apoyo de la Fundación MacArthur.

 

 

FCI co-sponsoring NYC event on indigenous women

FCI, together with partners UNFPA, the Continental Network of Indigenous Women of the Americas, the International Indigenous Women’s Forum—FIMI, and Spanish International Development Cooperation Agency—AECID, are organizing a side event as part of the 10th Session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. The side event — Indigenous Women, Health & Rights: Strengthening indigenous women to realize their right to reproductive health — will feature presentations by indigenous women leaders from Ecuador, Bolivia, and Peru. Speakers will discuss ways in which the “Indigenous Women, Health & Rights ” initiative, launched by UNFPA and AECID in 2008, has strengthened the capacity of indigenous women’s organizations to advocate for safe motherhood, and will discuss advances, challenges, and plans for the future. The event will be held on Tuesday, May 17, 2011, at the Beekman Tower Hotel, NYC, from 1 to 3PM. English/Spanish translation will be available.

FCI está co-organizando con UNFPA, el Enlace Continental de Mujeres Indígenas de las Américas, el Foro Internacional de Mujeres Indígenas—FIMI y la Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo—AECID, un evento paralelo en el marco de la 10 ª Sesión del Foro Permanente para las Cuestiones Indígenas de las Naciones Unidas. El evento, titulado “Mujer Indígena, Salud y   Derechos: Fortaleciendo a las mujeres indígenas para la realización de su derecho a la salud reproductiva” contará con presentaciones a cargo de mujeres líderes indígenas de Ecuador, Bolivia y Perú. Las lideresas hablarán sobre lo que ha significado para ellas y sus organizaciones la iniciativa “Mujer Indígena, Salud y Derechos“, lanzada por el UNFPA y la AECID en 2008. La iniciativa se ha centrado en el fortalecimiento de las organizaciones indígenas para abogar por sus derechos reproductivos, en especial la salud materna. El evento tendrá lugar el martes, 17 de mayo 2011, en el Beekman Tower Hotel, Beekman Ballroon, Nueva York, de 13 a 15 horas. Se facilitará interpretación simultánea: español/inglés.

Defending women’s rights at the CPD

Amy Boldosser is Senior Program Officer for Global Advocacy at Family Care International.

As I wrote in a previous post, the UN Commission on Population and Development (CPD) held its annual meeting last week in New York. The CPD’s mandate is to further the implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action, a groundbreaking 1994 agreement that confirmed the central place of women’s rights and access to reproductive health in population and development policy.

UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin
UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin

Remarks by UN leaders made it clear that the stakes in these discussions are very high. In his report to this year’s CPD, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that current funding levels for family planning, reproductive health services, and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS are so low that they jeopardize the fulfillment of both the ICPD Programme of Action and the Millennium Development Goals. The Under-Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs noted the cost-effectiveness of investments in family planning: “For every dollar spent on modern contraceptives, $1.30 is saved in maternal and newborn care.”  Babatunde Osotimehin, the new UNFPA Executive Director, stated it clearly: “Investing in the health and rights of women and young people is not an expenditure, it is an investment in our future.”

After a long week of intense  negotiations lasting late into the night, the Commission’s final Resolution reaffirmed the ICPD Programme of Action; it also welcomed the UN Secretary-General’s Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health which aims to reduce maternal, newborn, and child mortality.  Support for implementation of the Global Strategy was also reiterated by a number of governments in their formal statements to the CPD.

For those of us who work on global health, the connection between women’s reproductive health and rights and broader development and population issues is an obvious one.  Unfortunately, a small but vocal minority of governments led by the Vatican, which is not a member state but has observer status at the United Nations, refuse to recognize that interconnectedness and opposed rights- affirming language in negotiations on the CPD Resolution for this year. These opposition governments at the CPD raised repeated roadblocks in negotiations on language around women’s rights — and particularly references to gender, abortion, sexuality, reproductive rights,  comprehensive sexuality education, and the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people— challenging international commitments that date as far back as the ICPD in 1994.  Their stalling tactics included repeatedly questioning the  definitions of such basic terms as “reproductive health commodities,” “fertility,” and even “girls.”  One African CPD delegate put it best: “A small minority are intent on ignoring the facts on the ground and the need of working on measures to save the lives of women.” In the end, the Commission safeguarded the rights of women and young people to access education and lifesaving services in its final Resolution, but this result did not come without a struggle. This year’s experience shows the urgent need for continued advocacy to protect sexual and reproductive health and rights, both for their own sake and because they are crucial for sustainable development.

The theme of the 2012 CPD will be “Adolescents and youth.” A number of youth-led advocacy groups were key players at this year’s meeting. (You can read about the CPD Youth Caucus here, and can also see video of their powerful statements at the CPD.) The opposition is sure to be out in force again next year, opposing policies that educate and empower young people, and FCI will work in close alliance with youth-led groups and other advocates from around the world to ensure that the development goals laid out at the ICPD, including universal access to reproductive health, finally become a reality for all women and young people.

FCI at the UN Commission on Population & Development

Amy Boldosser is Senior Program Officer for Global Advocacy at Family Care International.

Governments and civil society groups from around the world are gathered at the United Nations in New York for the Commission on Population and Development (CPD) this week, and FCI is here advocating for progressive policies in support of sexual and reproductive health and rights.

The theme of this year’s CPD is “Fertility, Reproductive Health and Development” and the Commission is also focusing on the future of the Cairo Programme of Action, a groundbreaking agreement adopted by 180 governments at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in 1994. The ICPD & Cairo Programme of Action are important because they confirm that women’s rights and access to reproductive health are at the center of population and development policy.

FCI's Debra Jones making statement to the 44th CPD.
Debra Jones makes FCI's oral statement

In addition to conducting high level advocacy during the Commission, Family Care International also presented oral and written statements to the Commission highlighting that women — when they can control their fertility, when they are empowered and enabled, and when their rights are recognized — are drivers of economic growth and sustainable development. FCI also linked the ICPD to the Millennium Development Goals, in particular MDG 5 on maternal health, which recognizes that achieving universal access to reproductive health is critical to reducing maternal mortality and to fostering sustainable development.

The ICPD is also reinforced by the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health, which recognizes that investing in the health of women and children builds more stable, peaceful, and productive societies, reduces poverty, stimulates economic growth, is cost-effective, and helps women and children realize their fundamental human rights. FCI is also focusing on the importance of access to comprehensive sexuality education and sexual and reproductive health services for young people.

The CPD will continue its work through the end of the week, and FCI and our advocacy partners are continuing our advocacy efforts to ensure  that women’s rights and gender equality are central in the outcomes of the Commission. Follow The FCI Blog for further posts on the Commission on Population and Development, including updates from side events and plans for next year’s Commission, which will focus on youth.

 

Making Accountability Count

Written by: Ann Starrs, President, Family Care International

The following was originally posted by Maternal Health Task Force on the MHTF Blog on Jan 25, 2011.

When UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon formally launched the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health last September during the 2010 UN General Assembly meeting, a range of stakeholders made commitments totaling $40 billion for improved maternal and child health programs and services. The Global Strategy, a plan to save the lives of 16 million women and children in the world’s poorest countries, cuts across all the Millennium Development Goals, especially those related to health (MDGs 4, 5 and 6). It is designed to serve as a global roadmap to identify and mobilize resources, policies, and critical interventions, with engagement by governments, donors, academic institutions, health professional associations, NGOs, corporations, and many others.

These ambitious goals and generous pledges, promising though they may be, are not enough to bring real change. That will come only when commitments are translated into real money and concrete action. As my organization, Family Care International, wrote in our own commitment to the Global Strategy, “commitments don’t save lives until they are actually delivered.”

During a strategy meeting in Washington, DC last Friday, I shared an overview (here) on the Global Strategy, noting that accountability will be the key to ensuring that the Global Strategy drives clear, quantifiable progress toward achievement of MDG targets by 2015. The Global Strategy document stated this clearly:

Accountability is essential. It ensures that all partners deliver on their commitments, demonstrates how actions and investment translate into tangible results and better long-term outcomes, and tells us what works, what needs to be improved and what requires more attention.

Last month, the UN announced the establishment of a high-level Commission on Information and Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health, co-chaired by the President of Tanzania and the Prime Minister of Canada. This Commission, with members from developed and developing countries, academia, civil society and the private sector, is charged with developing a framework for tracking resources and results at the global and country levels. Its two working groups — on ‘accountability for resources’ and ‘accountability for results’ – are already hard at work; the Commission’s draft report is due to the UN this May.

As a member of the results working group, I will return to the MHTF blog soon to solicit your input on appropriate indicators, measurement needs, and accountability mechanisms (each working group has posted a “discussion forum” page here) , and to report back on our progress.