ARC - Advocating Reproductive Choices

The ARC Coalition held a meeting on 30 June, 2017 to discuss the FP2020 Country Action Plan and identify specific areas where it could support the government in its implementation. Additionally, it sought to share the feedback of the ARC Assessment Study. The primary objectives were thus to develop a broad roadmap delineating specific actionables that the Core Committee and state chapters could support as well as come up with recommendations to strengthen the Coalition.

ARC representatives from the state chapters presented the following key advocacy issues that they were implementing in their respective states. While the Bihar State Chapter identified advocacy with the Department of Health for a rights-based implementation of the Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram (RKSK, National Adolescent Health Programme), the Madhya Pradesh State Chapter shared their advocacy efforts towards strengthening the supportive monitoring mechanism. Aimed at ensuring the availability of comprehensive family planning services, this is being undertaken in partnership with the Department of Health at the state and district levels.

The Rajasthan State Chapter highlighted their ongoing advocacy with the Ministry of Health and the Panchayati Raj Department to include family planning in the agenda of the Gram Panchayat and Gram Sabha meetings. It is expected that this will help in dispelling myths and misconceptions related to FP besides increasing awareness on the issue at the grassroots. For the Uttar Pradesh State Chapter, it was about facilitating a convergence between the Ministry of Health and the Panchayati Raj Department to increase access and outreach of available FP services and uptake. The effort also sought to bring about an inclusion of discussions on family planning issues in the Gram Sabha meetings, in order to reach the grassroots.

The members of the Coalition identified the following areas as those where they could offer support to the implementation of the FP2020 Country Action Plan: (i) Provision of consistent feedback to the district and block level health officials by tracking the Logistics Management Information System (LMIS) (ii) Assistance to the national and state governments in the rolling out of LARC (iii) Compilation of IEC/BCC materials from all member organisations to develop a resource pool, which could support the government for demand generation, and (iv) Promoting access of youth to contraceptives. In terms of identifying mechanisms for ARC’s engagement with FP2020, there were various suggestions in the discussions that followed. These included the setting up of a formal meeting between the ARC Coalition and the Government in order to arrive at a consensus on how and where they could support. Another proposal was to put in place an Advocacy Support Group with select ARC members to facilitate the implementation of the FP2020 goals.

The team at the National Secretariat made a brief presentation on the key findings which had emerged from the ARC Assessment Study that had been undertaken in the 5 states and diverse suggestions were made to strengthen the Coalition. While various ideas were proposed, there was consensus that as opposed to individual organisations, ARC’s strength was in its collective advocacy.