28 May 2014
Asian Rural Women’s Coalition (ARWC):
International Day of Action for Women’s Health: Rural Women Raise SRHR Issues
As the world commemorates the International Day of Action for Women’s Health, rural women continue to speak up on sexual andreproductive health and rights (SRHR).
The travelling journal on SRHR, entitled Our Stories, One Journey: Empowering Rural Women in Asia Pacific and Africa on SRHR, collects the experiences and struggles for SRHR by rural women across 17 countries in the global south. In writings, drawings, and photographs, the journal has highlighted continuing struggles for SRHR by rural women, who told of lack of access to health care, child marriage, unsafe abortion, workers’ rights violations, and other pressing SRHR issues in their own lives and communities.
On 28 May 1987, women’s rights activists proposed to celebrate this day as the International Day of Action for Women’s Health, to give women and girls a chance to speak out on SRHR issues they faced. Today, 27 years later, it is apparent that SRHR issues are still largely unheard, and unresolved.
On its seventh stop, the travelling journal made its way to Vietnam. Previously, it was in the hands of an indigenous Nepali woman who organises health camps for farmers in an impoverished community that faces the problems of child marriage, domestic violence, and hazardous working conditions. Kumari Waiba of the Youth Welfare Society wrote about how these SRHR issues are being brought up at the local level through information campaigns and public dialogues.
In Vietnam, the travelling journal follows the story of 30-year-old Ke Thi Hach. Ke Thih is a member of the Women’s Union of the Hong Quang Commune, A Luoi district, Thua Thien Hue province in Vietnam. In the journal, she will talk about the inaccessibility of family planning methods and contraception for women in her community, which are mainly involved in paddy and corn farming. Even while Ke Thi is formally educated, she lacked the proper information on contraception methods. This led her to almost miscarry her second child.
Ke Thi’s story, as well as the stories of the other women who have participated in the journal so far, shows that more needs to be done to ensure that women’s health is upheld as a right. It shows that SRHR must be included in the priorities of governments and international institutions. As the Post-2015 Development Agenda is drawn up, a holistic approach to women’s health is indispensable in responding to the felt needs and aspirations of grassroots rural women.
The travelling journal, which started early this year, is acollaboration of the Asian Rural Women’s Coalition (ARWC) and the Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW).###
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