SEXUAL AND REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS FOR ALL (SARRA)
HAI runs a two-year project in Nigeria captioned “Sexual and Reproductive Rights for All, SARRA), with funding from the Kingdom of Netherlands. SARRA is an inclusive, intersectional human rights and movement-building project to reach 8000 marginalized women and girls with reproductive health information and services. To implement this project HAI builds the capacity of grassroot organizations – Mistletoe Community Health and Rights Initiative (MCHARI) in Lagos and Global Women Health, Rights, Empowerment Initiative (GWHREI) in Benue, who are best positioned to mobilize their peers around sexual and reproductive health issues and, ultimately, call upon national and global policymakers and service providers to serve all with respect and equity. In line with the Netherlands’ human rights policy of “Justice and Respect for All”, this project empowers marginalized women, regardless of social status, sexual orientation and gender identity, to secure their sexual and reproductive health and rights. Part of marginalized women empowered within this project include those live with disabilities, who engage in transactional sex and those who use drugs and alcohol.
In the course of its implementation, SARRA pilots and documents promising practices to advance the rights of these marginalized communities, developing the foundation for locally driven advocacy, and launching models for increased collaboration between sexual and reproductive health services to be scaled up in the future.
Heartland Alliance International (HAI) is the global arm of Heartland Alliance for Human needs & Human Rights, a family of organizations that has been leading anti-poverty and social justice work in Chicago for more than 125 years. HAI implements programs in nearly a dozen countries on a range of global human issues, providing mental health and psychological services, high-quality stigma free sexual and reproductive healthcare and access to justice for victims of conflict, displacement or abuse. HAI’s mission is to ensure the safety of people whose rights are violated and empower them to actively engage in their communities and drive social change. Across all programs, HAI promotes progressive, innovative approaches to human rights protections and gender equity. In Nigeria HAI has been in the forefront of the country’s efforts to halt the epidemic of HIV/AIDS among key population (KP) since 2008, “green housing” a number of KP led organizations, notably drug users, sex workers and LGBT organizations who take an active part in service delivery.
Within the two-year period of its existence, SARRA Project has achieved the following results:
The following are some specific successes through engagement with relevant stakeholders and agencies within the project:
Some stories of Change
Since the inception of SARRA, marginalized women and girls participating in the project across the 23 Local Government Areas in Benue and Lagos state have shown increased knowledge on their sexual and reproductive needs and rights; about 500 of them voluntary started using family planning options that now prevent them from unwanted pregnancies and its related complications coupled with societal shame and stigma. Program participants are now able to identify Gender Based Violence and other forms of human rights abuses, that they had previously normalized, as violations of their human rights. Through the GBV support group meetings, SARRA has helped create safe spaces for them to engage and meet peers as well as other trusted adults in conversations around their physical, mental, social, sexual and reproductive health concerns. Finally, majority of participants are speaking out on abuse. Increased access to public health facilities, health seeking behavior and sharing their own stories are part of their healing and empowerment process.