We recently began work on a major new European Union funded project, jointly with our South African Network member, the Thohoyandou Victim Empowerment Programme.
In February, we launched a two year project, funded by the European Union’s Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights for South Africa, which will empower marginalised rural communities in Limpopo Province to know, understand, advocate for, and exercise their sexual and reproductive rights. The project is being delivered in partnership with our Network member, the Thohoyandou Victim Empowerment Programme (TVEP). We are combining our decades of experience improving knowledge on sexual and reproductive health and improved family planning provision, with TVEP’s unparalleled local, and internationally recognised, expertise with vulnerable people, especially victims of gender based violence.
We are working with TVEP staff to integrate family planning actions into TVEP’s existing work, both in communities and schools. Our work will also ensure that the staff of local government departments, such as health, justice, policing and education, are adequately providing the services which the communities are legally entitled to access. To this end, we are recruiting a family planning nurse to provide training and mentoring to clinic staff at the project site’s medical facilities. Through the work at the community level and in medical facilities, communities will be enabled to fully exercise their constitutionally protected sexual, reproductive and gender human rights, including their right to quality, rights-based family planning.
The local need is great. For instance, a 2013 Gender Based Violence Indicator Study revealed that 77% of women in Limpopo had experienced such violence, and only one in 10 women sought medical attention after such abuse. Another study commissioned by the Department of Social Development in 2011 found that 57% of girls interviewed reported that their first sexual encounter had been forced. Most of these children are not well informed of their sexual and reproductive rights and therefore do not know that they are legally entitled to access Post-Exposure Prophylaxis or emergency contraception. Therefore, increasing knowledge of, access to and provision of quality and comprehensive health services, including family planning, is vital to improve women and girls’ health and empowerment.
David Johnson, our Chief Executive, is excited about the project and said, “We estimate that at the very least 12,000 community members will benefit from improved knowledge and services thanks to project actions. This is the perfect example of the impact which can be achieved when members of the Population & Sustainability Network collaborate.”
The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of The Margaret Pyke Trust, with the Population & Sustainability Network and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.
SOURCE: Blue Ventures
This month we feature our fellow Population & Sustainability Network member, Blue Ventures, a renowned Marine conservation organisation. Blue Ventures has been integrating community-based family planning and other health services with locally led marine resource management efforts and alternative coastal livelihood initiatives along the western coast of Madagascar for the past decade. This holistic approach is often referred to as "PHE" because of the way that it reflects the connections between people, their health and the environment.
In resource-dependent and under-served settings, challenges such as poor community health, unmet family planning needs, food insecurity, resource depletion and environmental degradation often interact and compound each other in increasingly negative ways. PHE is a joined-up approach designed to stop and reverse these vicious cycles by kick-starting a series of positive chain reactions: enabling couples to plan and better provide for their families, improving their food security, and equipping them with the skills they need to manage their resources sustainably.
In the first site where Blue Ventures developed its PHE programme with health partners including Marie Stopes Madagascar, the proportion of women using contraception has increased more than fivefold since 2007 and recent elections of the committee governing the locally managed marine area in the region saw female representation increasing from 13% to 38% of general assembly members. The community health component of Blue Ventures' PHE programme is known locally as "Safidy", meaning "the freedom to choose" or "choice", reflecting the organisation's commitment to upholding reproductive rights and enabling all individuals to make free and fully informed family planning choices.
Blue Ventures' distinctive style of working emerged through conversations with local communities, which challenged the organisation to appreciate the ways in which human and ecosystem health are intertwined. Their unconventional journey in conservation began through listening. They learned that people in Madagascar’s first locally managed marine area thought that fish stocks would collapse without improved access to family planning. They also saw that, as a field-based organisation working with these isolated communities, they were ideally positioned to address this critical unmet need with health partners in the region.
Today, Blue Ventures' PHE programmes reach more than 25,000 people along Madagascar's western coast and the organisation plays a leading facilitatory role in Madagascar's national PHE network. This network was established in 2014 to facilitate and support the creation and development of PHE partnerships among health and environmental organisations working in some of the island's most biodiverse and under-served zones. This platform is enabling Blue Ventures to share its PHE experiences and learning with numerous like-minded organisations while uniting Madagascar's health and environmental sectors to achieve and sustain meaningful changes for people, their health and the environment.
In April 2017, Dr Marian Davis will become the Margaret Pyke Trust’s first runner to take part in the London Marathon. Marian will be running to raise money for the Margaret Pyke Trust, with the Population & Sustainability Network, to help improve sexual and reproductive health around the world.
Dr Marian Davis is no stranger to a challenge. Running her first marathon at 49, she has gone on to complete more than six marathons and five half-marathons in over five different countries. There is, however, one marathon that she has always wanted to enter - the London Marathon.
“We’re thrilled to have Marian as our first Margaret Pyke Marathon runner. She will be joining around 36,000 runners in one of the world’s most famous running events, taking her past some of London’s most iconic landmarks, and we’re honoured that she will be running to support the Trust”, said David Johnson, Chief Executive of the Margaret Pyke Trust.
“I am delighted to be running the London Marathon for the Margaret Pyke Trust. The organisation has worked for over 50 years, both in the UK and internationally, providing training in contraception and reproductive health to clinicians. As part of the Population & Sustainability Network, they work towards improving reproductive health as a step towards empowering women, eradicating poverty and sustaining the environment, which is something I feel very strongly about.”, explained Marian.
In November, Dr. Sue Mann provided contraceptive training in Uganda, becoming the first “Margaret Pyke Volunteer” in a new programme continuing the legacy of a family planning pioneer.
The Margaret Pyke Trust has been a leader in contraception and sexual health for nearly 50 years. Named after Margaret Pyke, a family planning pioneer, the Trust is the UK’s leading provider of contraception training for doctors and nurses. Building on this success, the Trust launched a volunteering programme which places doctors and nurses at sites identified by Population & Sustainability Network members and at the Trust’s own African project sites with significant need for sexual and reproductive health training.
Dr Sue Mann, a Consultant in Public Health and sexual and reproductive health, travelled to Bwindi in south-west Uganda to provide contraception training to healthcare workers and to assist at a mobile health clinic in an isolated village near Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. At 5.8, Uganda’s fertility rate is one of the highest in the world, as Ugandan women, on average, give birth to nearly two children more than they want, and rural women are twice as likely to encounter barriers to family planning than their urban counterparts.
The growing local population also increases pressure on the local environment, and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is home to numerous wildlife species, including endangered gorillas and chimpanzees.
Population & Sustainability Network member, Conservation through Public Health (CTPH), has been working around the national park for over 10 years and Dr Mann accompanied CTPH staff and healthcare workers at a mobile health clinic, a three hour hike through the forest. The mobile clinic was funded by another Population & Sustainability Network member, CHASE Africa, and provided basic healthcare and family planning services, the first time all three Population & Sustainability Network members had collaborated on a single project.
Dr. Sue Mann spent her final week in Uganda providing training to nursing staff at Bwindi Community Hospital. The training is part of a pioneering programme called USHAPE, which strengthens sexual and reproductive health services in rural Ugandan hospitals.
David Johnson, Chief Executive of the Margaret Pyke Trust said, “We’re delighted that Dr. Sue Mann’s visit to Uganda was such a success and hope more clinicians will volunteer their time to help improve family planning services overseas, as there are an estimated 225 million women in developing countries who would like to delay or prevent childbearing but are not using an effective method of contraception. These women are the focus of the Margaret Pyke Volunteer programme.”
In the run up to COP22, the 2016 United Nations Climate Change Conference, the Population & Sustainability Network and the International Planned Parenthood Federation have joined forces to develop a toolkit for family planning advocates; providing them with the knowledge and tools to engage effectively in climate policy discussions and promote family planning as an effective climate adaptation strategy.
As climate discussions get underway in Marrakech, family planning advocates are using our toolkit, Climate Change: Time the "Think Family Planning", to impress upon climate change decision-makers the critical need to “Think Family Planning” as they develop plans to address the threats of climate change.
At last year’s Climate Change Conference in France, countries agreed the text of the Paris Agreement, which has now entered into force. This means we must now look to the future and work out how each country is going to implement so-called climate “adaptation” strategies. These adaptation strategies are ways communities can cope better in the face of a changing climate. Family planning has been accepted by UN scientists as one type of adaptation strategy.
It is important that all countries include family planning actions in their national plans and planning processes, and then ensure family planning actions are incorporated into national climate adaptation strategies. Family planning is a human-rights based adaptation strategy, and a particularly cost-effective strategy too. As the global population continues to grow, it becomes harder to meet the needs of citizens. When there are barriers to accessing family planning services, it hampers everyone’s ability to adapt to climate change.
Join us in encouraging leaders that when it comes to climate change, it is time to think family planning.
Watch our video about how family planning advocates can use our toolkit to encourage leaders to think family planning: