Taskforce Weekly Update

Dear Colleagues,

Since the onset of the crisis, Advocacy teams from all part of the Federation have worked together and engaged in a wide range of political initiatives aimed at supporting IPPF’s response to COVID-19 (C-19).

As C-19 is affecting both the access to and the continuation of SRH services, ensuring that political will and commitments towards SRHR remain strong and can be sustained is of outmost importance. IPPF is strongly mobilized to ensure that SRH services are not side-lined and recognised as time-sensitive and essential by governments and by international institutions. Moreover, the latest survey of the Task Force (TF) reveals that opponents of SRHR around the world are attempting to use the C-19 pandemic as cover to try to push back against progressive reforms. This crisis amplifies the need for a proactive IPPF response in countering extremists views which seek to undermine people’s right to safe and dignified sexual and reproductive lives.

And IPPF members have been active and vocal since the outbreak in keeping governments to account: the most recent survey of members shows that around 85% among the 124 who responded are engaged in some forms of advocacy in response to C-19. For example, 61 MAs reported working with governments to ensure continuation of SRH service provision and 51 in efforts related to Comprehensive Sexuality Educations (CSE). Several members and partners also reported having led or participated in actions against attempts from the opposition to counter progress. These efforts are not in vain, as 31 members say they have contributed to policies or changes in legislation in support or defence of SRHR and ggender equality since January 2020.

It is widely known that the pandemic exacerbates existing inequalities. It hits disproportionately under-served populations and lockdown has led to an increase in Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV). It’s important to note the high relevance of a significant number of IPPF members targeted advocacy in these areas : 59 members advocate to ensure the continuation of access to sexual and reproductive healthcare for vulnerable groups under C-19 and 54 members report working with governments to find ways to combat SGBV. 

As part of the Taskforce agreed actions, one of our first initiatives was to develop a set of advocacy key asks on C-19. These were drafted in collaboration with the IPPF Advocacy Advisory Group (AAG), gathering advocacy experts from across the Secretariat. They were widely disseminated, adapted to different contexts and tailored to specific audiences across the Federation at national, regional and global levels, generating specific recommendations to decision-makers, governments and stakeholders involved in the response to C-19.  Amongst these are, for example, contextualised asks towards the EU or adapted messages for the humanitarian sector. More can be found on Slack!

We also continue to document the numerous advocacy good practices during the C-19 crisis and to share experiences and learning through the microsite, Slack discussions and through connecting members for mutual support. We provide analysis to thematic briefs/blogs; key messages to position statements and we showcase our key asks on webinars in order to amply our SRHR voice and position IPPF as a leader in this crisis.

In addition, a forthcoming paper will highlight our advocacy efforts and especially the important leadership of MAs as well as their wide range of tactics in supporting and defending SRHR during C-19. Emphasis will be put on how resilient and innovative IPPF members have been also in their political work, inspiring and encouraging each other to build on the opportunities the lockdown and C-19 prioritisation on health care services would provide for rapid policy change. (eg how members managed to convince governments to leverage the potential of telemedicine for SRH, most notably in the case of abortion) These efforts aim to enhance our internal learning and our ability to build on the long term lessons post crisis.

Last but not least, we also ensure we do not keep quite when the unacceptable happens. Amongst others, IPPF has  developed a statement on the appalling decision by the US administration on defunding the WHO and we strongly condemned (see IPPF’s statement) the fact that the US administration has written to the UN asking todrop the provision of abortion as an essential component of the UN’s priorities to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in humanitarian aid.

The C-19 crisis has shown once more how crucial it is to work jointly across teams (programmes and advocacy) and across all levels of the Federation to ensure that IPPF remains strong and responsive to the immediate and longer-term impact of C-19 on women, girls and vulnerable/underserved groups.

When all these ingredients are combined, we start to see the benefits of encouraging initiatives such as this one – reminding us that we can never stop the fight and that we do not stand alone for the people we serve: 59 Governments, at the initiative of the Governments of Sweden and South Africa, decided to unite, mobilise and rally UN Member States from all regions in a cross-regional joint ministerial statement on Protecting SRHR and Promoting Gender-responsiveness in the COVID-19 Crisis (6 May 2020).

The COVID-19 Taskforce Microsite and Slack channel have been invaluable to share news throughout the Federation. Please do continue to engage with each other and the Taskforce through them.

And you can stay up to date on the work of the Taskforce through the actions and decisions page here: Actions and decisions from the COVID-19 Taskforce

In Support and Solidarity, 

Eef Wuyts and Fabian Cataldo

Members of the COVID 19 Task force

Posted in Advocacy, All Updates, Taskforce Updates

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