Our Stories, One Journey: Empowering Rural Women in Asia on Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights

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This booklet documents 17 inspiring life-stories of rural women from 14 countries from the Global South who participated in the Women’s Travelling Journal on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (WTJ-SRHR). Following the success of the first women’s travelling journal in 2013; this second WTJ is a joint initiative of the Asian Rural Women’s Coalition (ARWC), the Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW), and our partner organisations in Asia and Africa. The WTJ-SRHR comes at a time when SRHR issues need much attention especially as policymakers and global leaders chart the new post-2015 development agenda. However, as witnessed in many global processes, the voices of rural women are often silenced. Their concerns around their rights, their autonomy, and their bodily integrity – as indicated in the hard-won language on SRHR evident in the ICPD Programme of Action and the Beijing Platform for Action – have been watered-down and traded-off. Today, rural women are more marginalised than ever – despite comprising the majority of the population in many countries in Asia and Africa. Rural women take care of the families and the communities they live in. They contribute significantly to production and reproduction as small food producers, workers, family members, and women. They feed the world; however, many of them carry out their daily roles amidst the onslaught of neoliberal policies, which have wreaked loss of livelihoods, destroyed ecosystems, increased hunger and malnutrition, and broadened social injustice. Rural women are battling these problems while burdened by sexual and reproductive ill-health and violations of their sexual and reproductive rights. Their SRHR issues include continuing limited access to quality health care services, especially sexual and reproductive health information, care and services. In employment, rural women face unequal opportunities and their SRHR goes unrecognized in the labour market. The use of pesticides among women food producers is affecting their overall health while gender based violence and harmful practices such as child, early and forced marriage, and female genital mutilation among others, also threaten their health and well-being.

Date Published:
September 30, 2014

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