Engendering sexual and reproductive rights for all in Côte d’Ivoire

In 2016, EngenderHealth received a two-year grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, project SSRDroits, to field-test the operationalization of the combined Checkpoints for Choice and Users’ Guide package with policymakers, health service providers, and community stakeholders in Côte d’Ivoire. This project primarily aims to improve rights-based outcomes for family planning and sexual and reproductive health (SRH). As the first step in this process, in May 2016, the SSRDroits project, in collaboration with the National Program for Maternal and Child Health (PNSME) in Côte d’Ivoire, conducted a national-level workshop on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) for stakeholders at the individual, community, service provision, and policy levels.

EngenderHealth guided organizations through a detailed analysis of their existing policies and programs, identifying areas of risk across different rights principles, to develop practical, detailed action plans and monitoring strategies to mitigate risks. These action plans capture key milestones, indicators of success, and means of measurement.

As a follow up, a consultative meeting and a training of trainers on human rights in SRH was held in Grand-Bassam, Côte d’Ivoire, from November 29 to December 2, 2016. The objective was to convene different stakeholders so they could share lessons learned in implementation of different activities across different levels. This exercise was aimed at strengthening learning and partnerships to increase opportunities for collaboration in the long run.

These consultations provided an opportunity to talk about experiences in implementing on-the-ground rights-based activities, to share initial data on qualitative and quantitative outcomes collected through the rights-based monitoring framework for SRH and FP programs, and to strengthen the skills of the project stakeholders through the training of SRH rights trainers, to facilitate the implementation of the action plans. Overall, 28 participants from 13 organizations were present. Participants represented ministries and nongovernmental organizations and were excited to work as champions of SRH. They expressed their understanding of the importance of the issue and shared their appreciation for these consultations.

In fact, at the training of trainers, one participant confessed “I am now comfortable with my colleagues and my partner. In addition to talking about SRHR, I can now impart knowledge while tailoring it to my audience. It is not just talking, it is demonstrating how to think and protect the rights of youth.”

Going forward, a technical working group on SRHR has been established under the Ministry of Health. Its overall objective is to contribute to improving the quality of SRH and FP interventions by ensuring that people’s rights are upheld and respected.