Report by Aryashree Aryal
Post by Shilpa Krishnan
“When we talk about “reproductive rights” this is what we mean. It’s the difference between people as objects, and people as agents: between regarding people as pawns on the policy chessboard and recognizing them as the players, the decision-makers, the drivers of policy; autonomous individuals intimately concerned with the direction of their own lives. Under these conditions women, especially, enjoy better health and fuller lives.” ~Nafis Sadik, Special Adviser to the UN Secretary General
Every year, every month, every day, we fail to address the demand for reproductive health and family services. Lives are lost, and opportunities for women to thrive and contribute to their country’s development diminish. Knowledge of reproductive rights is the first step to measure how women are living. Unfortunately, women in Nepal have little rights to their own bodies and this has much to do with the lack of awareness about women’s health. In collaboration with FPAN (Family Planning Association of Nepal), Rukmini Foundation successfully launched a two day program to promote reproductive health education. The CYWC (Central Youth Working Committee) of FPAN provided their valuable time to educate students and parents about sexual and reproductive rights. Mr. Anup Singh Sijapati, Mr. Nianjan Subedi, Ms. Sabrina Chettri, Ms. Shrishti Mainalli, Ms. Sneha Mishra, Mr. Kiran Giri, and Mr. Prajwal Tamang helped our team provide a comfortable environment for people to talk freely on this topic.
“Women’s capability is not determined by how many babies can she produced. When she can make her choices about sex and her health, that is when we call her as an empowered woman” ~Monica Karki, Class 10
On the first day of the program, students were taught their right to information on sexual and reproductive health, followed by the elements required to bring about safe sexual health. The latter focused on issues such as motherhood, puberty, abortion, safe sex, HIV/AIDS, sexual and reproductive rights, and family planning services. Health education had been a large focus for these students for many months, so the class enrollment for the day was high. The children were able to discuss without hesitation, sharing the experiences they have had with reproductive rights.
A volunteer educating children on puberty and sexual health.
RF recognizes the importance of educating both boys and girls on sexual health and reproductive rights.
On the second day, guardians of Rukmini Foundation Scholars participated in the program. The students were energetic and eager to learn. Though talking about sexual and reproductive health is still taboo in many places within Nepal, the parents were nonetheless interested and responded well during the program. Despite the many shy faces, parents shared their thoughts on how going through the program made them feel more aware and knowledgeable about sexual and reproductive health.
Volunteers teach reproductive anatomy to the children and parents.
The effectiveness of this two-day program will truly only be seen when these women start to have a voice towards their reproductive health. No woman is free until she is able to control her own body. When people gain knowledge of reproductive rights, they are also learning to recognize women as agents of their own lives. With another successful program, Rukmini Foundation has allowed for women to talk freely about their bodies and feel more comfortable making choices about their sexual and reproductive health.