Strengthening The Sexual And Reproductive Health Rights Coalition
By Amani Amani
18 November 2022
The SRHR Coalition Meets
Following a convening on intersectionality in Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) activism in 2021, it became clear that a coalition that will bring together organizations, individual activists, and others passionate about Sexual and Reproductive Health in Tanzania for collective action was needed. Therefore, as it is part of WFT Trust’s role to support feminist movement building, on February 24th and 25th, 2022 a larger convening was held with the following objectives:
Deepen knowledge on feminism, cross movement building, and current SRHR issues.
Strategize on how to build inclusive campaigns and strengthen collective voice and actions around ongoing campaigns.
Experience and knowledge sharing on ongoing advocacy initiatives.
WFT Trust’s Co-ED Mary Rusimbi, emphasized the importance of collaboration so that voices and actions are amplified. Making reference to intersectionality, an analytical framework that was coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw, which identifies how different aspects of a person’s identity like their gender, sex, religion, race, ethnicity, disability, physical appearance and more overlap and converge to afford them privilege in some ways and cause discrimination or oppression in others. With respect to the SRHR agenda, Ms. Rusimbi commented that while the women’s movement has been blamed for not incorporating SRHR enough, on the other side of the coin, actors within the SRHR movement have also been criticized for limited and specific focus on access to reproductive health services and information rather than on rights advocacy. Issues that have been missing in SRHR debates and advocacy include safe abortion access and the broad spectrum of sexuality.
Participants to the convening included WFT Trust grantee partners, CBOs, NGOs, and other women’s rights organizations that directly or indirectly work in the field of SRHR. During reflections, participants identified that building unity within the diversity of actors can only come about once everyone is able to interrogate their own power bases thus being clear on where they hold privilege and how they can contribute. Gender dis-aggregated data, research, and ongoing involvement of medical experts were also highlighted as critical areas that can support rights-based advocacy.
A representative from the Advance Family Planning Project expressed hope that with the intersectionality approach, new avenues of working together with WROs and CBOs will be possible. A member from the Pastoral Women’s Council shared the need for gender dis-aggregated data to form the basis of advocacy and emphasized that organizations need to truly embody the principles that they advocate for.
Potential Areas of Working
Looking forward, several opportunities for the Coalition to work collectively were identified and are as follows:
Led by Msichana Initiative, the Amendment of the Law of Marriage Act, 1971 to raise the minimum age of marriage eligibility to 18 years old for girls.
Led by the Doris Mollel Foundation, the National Campaign to Extend Maternity Leave.
The East African Community Sexual and Reproductive Health Bill.
Tanzania’s Family Planning 2030 Commitments.
Advocacy on domesticating The Maputo Protocol.
In order to facilitate a sustainable coalition, it was decided that a single organization be nominated to act as the national coordinator for the SRHR coalition. A smaller technical working group consisting of six (6) organizations who represent persons living with disabilities, youth, rural communities, and Zanzibar was created to facilitate this nomination.