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On International Women’s Day, a Model for Realizing Rights

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day — realizing women’s rights — has deep resonance for PAI and our advocacy partners. First, we believe that sexual and reproductive rights are human rights and key to the self-determination, bodily autonomy and overall well-being of women and girls. Secondly, the idea of making rights real, of moving from rhetoric to action, is a question that keeps us up at night.

From the sustainable development goals to FP2020, in recent years, there have been several global initiatives that champion women’s reproductive health and rights. As part of these initiatives, national governments commit to improving sexual and reproductive health. Government commitments are an excellent first step to promoting rights. However, to make these commitments a reality, more than an act of political will is required. Realizing women’s rights, including sexual and reproductive health and rights, requires a framework for translating global and national commitments to action. It also requires inclusive, community-driven processes that bring together diverse stakeholders around shared goals.

To ensure government follow-through on promises made to women and girls, each country therefore needs a strong accountability structure in place. Unfortunately, to date, the extent to which civil society organizations (CSOs) have been included in accountability efforts is limited. Lack of inclusion of CSOs is a missed opportunity as these organizations are uniquely positioned to drive accountability. Often closest in proximity to the community and therefore most aware of the needs of women and girls and the contextual factors that impact their sexual and reproductive health, CSOs understand and give a voice to those most affected by government actions.

In response to the dearth of civil society voices in accountability mechanisms for tracking progress on national commitments on reproductive health, Samasha Medical Foundation in Uganda developed the Motion Tracker, a six-step approach driven by civil society to monitor and track commitments. Together, PAI and Samasha are implementing the Motion Tracker in Indonesia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Nigeria and strengthening the capacities of CSOs to track progress towards FP2020 commitments.

How Is Civil Society Leveraged Through the Motion Tracker?

The Motion Tracker focuses on commitments holistically and places civil society at the center of the accountability process. This approach is different from other mechanisms such as Track20, Performance Monitoring for Action and demographic health surveys, which focus solely on providing quantifiable information to track progress on FP2020 commitments. In each of the countries implementing the Motion Tracker, a CSO leads the process of identifying and deconstructing the commitments to clarify them. The lead CSO then develops a set of process indicators to track the commitments. The process indicators are then validated by all stakeholders including government, donors and civil society — a key step to creating ownership.

Once the foundational steps (steps 1-5) of the Motion Tracker are completed, the CSO maintains continuous engagement with stakeholders to collect and analyze data. Stakeholders are convened on a routine basis to present results and discuss progress and challenges. Tracking commitments in this collaborative manner fosters a sense of mutual accountability among stakeholders. It also minimizes the risk of creating a hostile relationship between government and CSOs as coordination between government and civil society is crucial to reaching the women and girls who are most at risk.

Additionally, the Motion Tracker methodology ensures that the nonquantitative components of the commitments are not overlooked. For example, the Kenyan government committed to increasing the modern contraceptive prevalence rate of married women to 58% by 2020. It has since surpassed this quantitative goal. This commendable achievement does not mean that the Kenyan government has met its FP2020 commitment, however. The government also committed to many policy changes such as establishing a national budget line for family planning which have yet to be achieved. Motion Tracker results disseminated by AMREF-Kenya indicates that there has been very little movement towards establishing a budget line for family planning in Kenya. Sustaining the momentum that Kenya has achieved in increasing use of modern contraceptives will require increased domestic financing and resources. Creating a national budget line for family planning is the first step to ensuring that women and girls will continue to receive a broad choice of contraceptives and quality care.

Another benefit of the Motion Tracker’s inclusive process is that it brings a diverse range of CSO voices into the accountability conversation. One such CSO is Cipta, a woman-led team that tracks 30 process indicators to provide a comprehensive picture of progress on FP2020 commitments in Indonesia. Cipta has not only reported on the process indicators, but has been instrumental in convening a range of stakeholders to discuss progress and identify areas in need of attention to accelerate progress. With technical support from Samasha and PAI, Cipta aptly documented and communicated the findings of the Motion Tracker and elevated accountability of government commitments not only nationally but also at global platforms, demonstrating that CSOs are indispensable in the quest to make women’s sexual and reproductive rights a reality.

As a result of the Motion Tracker, civil society can drive the accountability process for FP2020 commitments and deliver results for women and girls. On International Women’s Day and every day, PAI is committed to supporting CSOs to monitor progress and work with governments to translate commitments to action and realize sexual and reproductive health and rights.

To learn more about the Motion Tracker and how civil society is contributing to progress on FP2020 commitments and advancing sexual and reproductive rights, please visit http://www.motiontracker.org.

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