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Global call to action: Recognise the benefits of integrating SRHR programming into climate action.

Thursday 18 April 2019 Marie Stopes International Policy and advocacy, Opinion

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As we mark Earth Day, on April 22, Marie Stopes International (MSI) – together with many of our partners in the sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) community – is launching a call to action to climate change negotiators and planners.

The call to action aims to be a resource for national advocates to bridge the divide between sexual and reproductive health and rights, and climate change conversations. The aim is to remind climate change negotiators of national commitments and obligations under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and the benefits of integrating SRHR programming into climate action.

Why is MSI, a reproductive rights agency, interested in climate change?

Marie Stopes International’s mission is children by choice, not chance. We support women and girls to access lifesaving services, services that give them the power to make decisions about their own bodies and futures.

The changing climate is already exacerbating existing inequalities and rolling back progress made over recent decades. The most marginalised and those already living in vulnerable situations are the most affected, despite being the smallest carbon contributors. MSI has committed to reaching those who are most often left behind, and many of the women and girls who need our services the most are those disproportionately affected by climate change.

What can the SRHR community do to increase the effectiveness of climate action?

Climate action is generally divided into two spheres of work: adaptation (preparing to be able to adapt to, and recover from the impacts of climate change) and mitigation (preventing or slowing climate change).

We believe that the realisation of sexual and reproductive rights can contribute to climate change adaptation by reducing vulnerabilities and enhancing individual, family and community resilience to climate-related (and other) shocks. This is based on the links that we already know exist between SRHR and improved development outcomes; that rights-based SRHR services improve health, girls’ education and economic outcomes.

What does MSI’s contribution to climate action look like?

There are many lessons to be learned from Population Health and Environment (PHE) programmes, which combine conservation or natural resource management initiatives with alternative livelihoods, and health, including SRHR, programming. Marie Stopes International is working in partnership, with for example Blue Ventures in Madagascar and the Frankfurt Zoological Society in Zambia, to provide services to women and girls in areas that have a high unmet need for contraception, conservation needs, and increased vulnerability due to climate change and environmental degradation.

While SRHR services alone can’t prepare individuals and communities to deal with the impacts of climate change, as a part of a gender-responsive multi-sectoral adaptation programme – a larger-scale version of our pilot PHE projects – these services can strengthen the effectiveness of this programming. Enabling marginalised women and girls to access lifesaving services whilst contributing towards gender equality and more effective climate adaptation programming; it’s an obvious choice.

For more information on the links between SRHR and climate change, see MSI Australia’s policy paper.

If your organisation is interested in signing onto this call to action please get in touch with Sara Brandao, External Affairs Assistant.

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