Advocacy Key Messages: SRHR & COVID-19
The world we are living in today is mired by the COVID-19 pandemic, the largest health and socioeconomic crisis that we have ever seen. As the pandemic continues to grow, governments and health systems are taking unprecedented action to contain the spread of COVID-19, restricting movements and redirecting resources to fight the outbreak.
In East Asia, South East Asia and Oceania Region (ESEAOR), access to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services, from antenatal care, contraception, anti-retroviral treatment and abortion, has suffered significantly. The ESEAOR continues to be the most disaster-prone region and with COVID-19, countries may have to contend with multiple disasters, further stretching resources and reducing the population’s ability to cope.
As the breadth of the pandemic continues to unfold and the true impacts emerge, sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) must be a priority to ensure women and girls and other vulnerable groups have access to life-saving SRH services without discrimination.
The pandemic further exacerbates pre-existing gender and social inequalities and excludes vulnerable groups – essentially making a bad situation for women, girls and other vulnerable groups including the elderly, adolescents and young people, people living with disabilities, members of the LGBTQI+ community, indigenous people, migrants and refugees, even worse.
Governments must define and implement people-centred programmes grounded in human rights, with meaningful engagement of civil society organisations, that are both gender-responsive and youth-centred.
We call on Governments to recognise that SRHR is a public health issue and ensure adequate investment is made:
- Women and girls must have uninterrupted access to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) information, services and commodities;
- Universal access to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services especially for the most marginalised populations is a human right; and
- Women, girls, and young people realise their rights and have control over their bodies, their lives and their futures without violence and inequalities.
These documents are a guide for regional and national advocacy work to demand that governments take action to ensure the rights of women and girls, in all their diversity are realised and protected, including the availability of, and accessibility to SRH information, education and services, during the COVID-19 pandemic.