"I spoke on behalf of the women in my country"
When RFSU is given the opportunity to highlight SRHR and gender equality as important issues in EU development policy, we choose to enlist the help of our partner organizations.
This spring, Sweden holds the EU Presidency, and RFSU has received funding from CONCORD Sweden to draw attention to the EU's development policy.
"Sweden now has the opportunity to push for sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) to become a priority area in EU development policy. We want to make this visible in various ways", said Sara Österlund, senior policy advisor at RFSU.
Partner organizations make their own statements
This is really nothing new. RFSU has long worked for Sweden to make its voice heard for greater gender equality and everyone's right to their body and sexuality. But with extra funds, it is possible to pursue extra efforts.
"We have produced policy documents and fact sheets that other civil society organizations can also use in their advocacy work. We have also made a film where our partner organizations talk about their situation. And we have allowed the partner organizations themselves to speak at various meetings", Österlund continued.
One of them was Sivananthi Thanenthiran from the Asian network Arrow, who was given the opportunity to speak at the launch of The Game Changer report (pdf). "There is potential for a stronger EU voice on gender equality and SRHR", said Thanenthiran.
Why the EU should prioritize SRHR
Another was Nino Tsereteli from RFSU's partner organization Tanadgoma in Georgia who participated in a Swedish EU meeting.
"My most important message was that without the realization of sexual and reproductive rights, it is impossible for women to fully participate in society, to contribute to economic development and to participate in political processes. This is why the EU should prioritize SRHR", said Tsereteli.
Nino Tsereteli is glad that Tanadgoma had the opportunity to contribute and believes that her statement was heard.
"Unfortunately, it is not very often that civil society organizations from our region are allowed this kind of space and raise our issues on the EU agenda. This opportunity plays an important role in promoting SRHR, both in Georgia and globally. It was also empowering for me personally as I felt I was speaking on behalf of so many women in my country", Tsereteli continued.
Poland and Hungary are expected to counteract SRHR
Soon, Sweden's EU presidency will be over and Spain will take over. RFSU has already translated some of our material into Spanish for those taking over the baton. It is important to take the opportunity to find allies in the change process.
"It's particularly important that Sweden and Spain show the way because Poland and Hungary will then take over the presidency and they will take every opportunity to dismantle SRHR and gender equality", said Österlund.
Text: Ulrika Hammar
Translation: Raul Cordenillo