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Musings from a sexual and reproductive health and rights advocate

Sponsored by KELIN | November 3rd 2021
Marion Muringe, a human rights lawyer and feminist working as a Programme Associate at the Kenya Legal and Ethical Issues Network on HIV & AIDS (KELIN).

The silent promise of the icpd+25 for Kenyans:

 “Women and girls are the true owners of their own bodies, and reaching SDG 5 is the key to reaching the other SDGs... We can only be here in 2030 if we are celebrating the finished unfinished business... Let us march and unite in this moment of solidarity across the globe so women can make informed choices.”

His Excellency Rasmus Prehn, Minister for Development Cooperation, Denmark noted at the beginning of the ICPD+25 Summit in 2019: 

The spirit of this statement featured prominently in the opening statement of His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta during the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD+25) - Nairobi Summit in November of 2019. The summit which drew together state and non-state actors from the global north and global south resulted in progressive commitments on sexual and reproductive health and rights(SRHR) by countries, civil society organization, the private sector and influential individuals. Kenya made 17 commitments towards 5 broad themes within the ICPD Programme of action. These are: access to quality healthcare, ending female genital mutilation and child marriages, heightened efforts towards ending gender-based violence and a collective effort towards achieving gender equality.

Understanding Kenya’s 17 Commitments

Key among them was the provision of quality maternal healthcare. A key component of the current government’s Big 4 Agenda is health. Kenya’s Maternal Mortality Ratio is still 362 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.Key factors contributing to this dismal rate include severe bleeding and sepsis that can be linked to unsafe abortions. Additionally, in the provision of quality SRHR for women and girls, arbitrary and inhumane detention of women post-delivery and other Sexual and Reproductive Health(SRH) care and services – remains a unceasing practice in health facilities despite being outlawed by the constitutional division of the High Court of Kenya. In addition, we continue to see inadequate budgetary allocation to reproductive health care at the county and national.

What will it cost to achieve the three zeros on Zero Preventable Maternal Deaths, Zero Unmet Need for Family Planning, And Zero Gender Based Violence?

The key strategy here would be to anchor Kenya’s commitments towards ICPD+25 on existing health programmes and avenues that would ensure synergetic implementation. Subsequently, access to public health care services should be improved. This will contribute towards reducing the high rates of preventable maternal morbidity and mortality. Unsafe abortions are a key attribution to these rates especially amongst adolescent women and young people.

Adequate resource allocation within the health sector and more so towards sexual and reproductive health care would also strengthen existing health infrastructure which includes SRH care and services.  It is imperative that state actors and non-state actors work collaboratively on accelerating the promise of the ICPD+25.

The writer, Marion Muringe, is a human rights lawyer and feminist working as a Programme Associate at the Kenya Legal and Ethical Issues Network on HIV & AIDS (KELIN).

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