Over 90 delegates drawn from 36 IPPF’s Member Associations in sub-Saharan Africa attended a regional forum from 9 – 15 September in Nairobi, Kenya, that was aimed at supporting them to better understand the reforms taking place at the IPPF Secretariat. These reforms include IPPF’s new strategy (2023 - 2028), the IPPF results framework, Charter of values, anti-racism strategy, humanitarian program, safeguarding policies and IPPF’s global rebrand.
The new Strategy and the reforms, according to the IPPF Africa Regional Director Mrs. Marie-Evelyne Petrus-Barry, will enable the Federation to stay aligned with the changing and challenging global landscapes, more so in the sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR) space.
“Central to our discussions during this Africa regional forum is the pivotal role of Member Associations in implementing the new IPPF Strategy, "Come Together." This approach represents a drastic shift in our approach, necessitating commitments that can only be realized through the unified efforts of the entire Federation. It is fundamental that all Member Associations align their work with the new Strategy to move the agenda forward,” Mrs. Petrus-Barry said during her opening remarks at the forum.
The delegates at the regional forum included IPPF Board Members, Executive Directors from 36 IPPF Member Associations (MAs) and Collaborative Partners (CPs) in Africa, Presidents of the Youth Action Movement (the youth governance arm of IPPF Africa Region), and Secretariat staff from both the Africa Region and IPPF’s London office. Guest speakers at the forum included Professor Joachim Osur –the Vice Chancellor at AMREF International University, and Ms. Judy Amima –Country Coordinator of the Kenya SRHR Alliance.
SRHR Opposition in Africa
While acknowledging the difficult circumstances that SRHR defenders in some parts of Africa are facing, such as the Anti-homosexuality Act in Uganda and the proposed anti-LGBTQ bill in Ghana, Mr. Jon Loemoy, IPPF Board of Trustees member, said that all people’s rights must nevertheless be respected.
“Indeed, the opposition is getting stronger, but that has not deterred our resolve as a Federation to speak up for all people’s rights. The degree of courage it requires to advocate for sexual reproductive health rights represents risk, which we will continue to address even as we respect the diversity of context. As a global movement, IPPF’s organizational strength is that we are uniquely positioned to be the global pathfinder in the SRHR movement. We have led the way before, and we will continue to do so,” he said.
Ms. Hayathe Ayeva, a representative of the youth delegates at the forum, commended IPPF’s inclusion of young people in its new Strategy and reform process.
“IPPF has demonstrated its commitment to youth inclusion in its agenda. The organization has created a space for youth as key stakeholders in all its processes and has incorporated our voices and recommendations throughout the change process. This is highly commendable and has further inspired our commitment to the Federation,” said the 23-year-old President of the Youth Action Movement (YAM) Togo chapter.
Maggy-Gynese Inamahoro, the Burundi YAM President said the forum presented her with a unique opportunity to hone her skills as a young leader.
“The gathering was a great opportunity as I got to interact with youth from other countries, discussing SRHR successes and challenges within the African context. All the sessions were very insightful, notably that of resources mobilization and the use of local and scalable initiatives to generate funds for our important SRHR work. My interaction with leaders from the IPPF Africa, London and Malaysia offices has inspired my resolve to grow my leadership skills in SRHR,” said the 24-year-old.
Richard Allo, the newly elected Chair of the Association of Chief Executives of Member Associations in Africa Region (ACEMAAR) said the regional forum presented a timely opportunity for Executive Directors to discuss priorities, activities challenges and solutions pertaining to the work of MAs.
“We had the opportunity to discuss the IPPF Strategic Framework and how best to align our MA Strategic Plans. We deliberated on how to strengthen MA peer-to-peer support, with the objective of having strong Member Associations in the Africa Region that will deliver great results,” he said.
Moving the IPPF agenda forward
In conclusion, Mrs. Petrus-Barry encouraged all delegates to ensure that the knowledge and perspectives gained at the forum would be translated into action, as this is vital in driving forward the IPPF agenda forward.
“Your collective expertise, dedication, and unique perspectives are IPPF’s most valuable assets in this transformative journey,” she said.