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Sexual and reproductive health rights in africa


The continued poor sexual and reproductive health SRH outcomes in sub-Saharan Africa highlight the difficulties in reforming policies and laws, and implementing effective programmes.

This paper uses one international and two national case studies to reflect on the challenges, dilemmas and strategies used in operationalising sexual and reproductive health and rights SRHR in different African contexts. The second national case study examines the experiences with introducing the Sexual Offences Act in Kenya, and it is developed from organisational publications on the processes of enacting the Act and a review of media reports on the debates and passing of the Act.

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Analysis of successes points to the strategies for tackling these challenges, which include forming and working through strategic coalitions, employing strategic framing of SRHR issues to counter opposition and gain support, collaborating with government, and employing strategic opportunism. The strategies identified show future pathways through which challenges to the realisation of SRHR in Africa can be tackled. More than 15 years after the radical shift in policy from a focus on population control to a focus on individual needs and rights initiated at the International Conference on Population and Development ICPDsexual and reproductive health and rights SRHR indicators remain poor in sub-Saharan Africa SSA.

Although some progress has been made in SSA in terms of developing reproductive health policies and Sexual and reproductive health rights in africa laws to provide a framework for the implementation of SRHR programmes, SRHR still remain non-priority issues on the development agenda of many SSA countries due to limited political leadership and commitment to the realization of SRHR, and inadequate resource allocation [ 2 - 4 ].

Further, the lack of a universally recognised definition of SRHR at the international level [ 6 ] is another challenge for implementing national policies and programmes to realise these rights. As used in this paper, SRH refers to everything encompassed in both sexual health and reproductive health, as defined by the ICPD SRHR, on the other hand, is based on international human rights law and is about the right to SRH information, services and autonomy. However, SRH-related human rights are spread throughout various international Human Rights frameworks and are interpreted in a range of ways by different stakeholders.

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