Advancing Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights through Self-Care 

“There can be no gender equality without bodily autonomy and sexual and reproductive health and rights. But there can be no bodily autonomy and SRHR without gender equality,” said UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. 

At the recent Generation Equality Forum (GEF) Summit in Paris, we heard from government officials, civil society representatives, advocates, and youth leaders speak to the importance of ensuring every person has the right to bodily autonomy and sexual and reproductive health.   

With sessions on improving women’s and girls’ access to healthcare, building stronger health systems following the COVID-19 pandemic, advancing accountability for gender equality, and co-creating a better future for women and girls, it was clear—listening to women and girls and prioritizing their needs is long overdue.  

We at the Self-Care Trailblazer Group couldn’t agree more.   

The Forum may be over, but ensuring women and girls have both a seat at the decision-making table and the ability to access to the healthcare solutions of their choice continues to be timely and relevant in the face of the global pandemic that has exacerbated existing inequalities between women and men in almost all areas of life. That is why the Self-Care Trailblazer Group is proud to be an Action Coalition Commitment Maker, committing to advancing gender equality, bodily autonomy, and sexual and reproductive health and rights through self-care.   

Scaling up self-care is a solution leaders can use to make healthcare more equitable and just and maximize access to services—all transformative for gender equality. But more than that, self-care represents an opportunity for women and girls to manage and control their own sexual health and fertility—translating to greater bodily autonomy and increased power over their lives. 

We believe in the potential of self-care in advancing gender equality by putting power and control in the hands of women and girls to manage their sexual and reproductive health. And through our commitment, we’re promising to not only advocate for increased access, agency, and choice but to ensure membership and leadership across the SCTG is representative—with a goal of at least 30% of our membership made up of traditional unrepresentative groups including feminist movements, women’s organizations, and youth groups.  

To explore our full commitment, and explore other commitments made by Self-Care Trailblazer Group members dedicated to advancing self-care policies and practices, read on below!  

Advancing SRHR Through Self-Care 

Commitment Maker: Self-Care Trailblazer Group 

Over the next five years, the Self-Care Trailblazer Group commits to:  

  • Leveraging the coalition to ensure women have access to their choice of voluntary contraception by generating evidence, coordinating advocacy efforts, and growing champions, so that at least five (5) countries adopt national self-care sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) guidelines, policies, and financing, including, but not limited to:  
      1. adopting the WHO Consolidated Guideline on Self-Care Interventions for Health: Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights;  
      2. inclusion of client-controlled SRHR products and approaches that advance self-care and individuals’ autonomy over health in universal health coverage (UHC) programming and health financing plans;  
      3. inclusion of self-care as a part of comprehensive sexuality education; 
      4. policies in support of digital health and telemedicine; 
      5. support of over-the-counter status of drugs and devices used in self-managed care.  
  • Growing the number of champions by 10% annually who advocate as part of the coalition for self-care SRHR products and approaches to be integrated into primary healthcare packages and UHC and included in regional and global resolutions, guidelines, and health financing priorities to ensure a more inclusive, equitable, and people-centered approach to SRHR services.
  • Additionally, we are committed to having diversity in its members and Steering Committee. We commit to having at least 30% of our members and Steering Committee coming from traditionally underrepresented groups including feminist movements, women’s organizations, and youth groups and at least 50% of members from the Global South. 

Explore our full commitment here.  

Integrate menstrual health & hygiene to achieve the Acceleration Plan for Gender Equality 

Commitment Maker: Global Menstrual Collective 

Explore the full commitment here.

What Women Want: Information and Power 

Commitment Maker: White Ribbon Alliance 

WRA will mobilize 2,000,000+ women and girls—in all their diversity, including trans, intersex and non-binary people—about information they want and need to make autonomous decisions about their health, bodies, and well-being. Further, WRA will engage 500,000+ mobilized participants in on-going, direct action to influence sexual, reproductive, maternal, and newborn health practices, policies, and programs—public and private—that help realize wants and enable informed choice free of violence, discrimination, and coercion in 10+ countries. Participants and community allies will also engage in a joint initiative to build confidence and skills to seek and distil information, ask questions, practice self-care, and negotiate safely in their everyday lives. A 25,000-person subset, including men and boys, service providers, and policymakers, will serve as campaign ambassadors, championing historically excluded people reaching for—and gaining—knowledge and power both personally and politically.