Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR)
Pakistan is the 5th most populous country in the world with a total population of with population of almost 227 million. Approximately one-third of the total population lives below the poverty line where basic needs of life remain unfulfilled.
The country is in the midst of an unprecedented demographic transition where a huge portion of the population comprises children (under the age of 18 years).
Pakistan can get unprecedented benefits from its coming future generation but only if this portion is properly guided and educated in a healthy and constructive environment.
To develop a productive generation, proper guidance is essential from the beginning. Equal rights, without any segregation for children, youth, women, and minorities are very important for the strong foundation of a generation.
Currently, inadequate investments and attention in terms of education, health, social rights, etc. This segment can create drastic social and economic problems. The perennial economic and political instability in the country has made the recognition of social rights less prioritized, placing the country on low ranking in terms of civil rights in the international community.
SRH Rights in Pakistan nevertheless remained at the center of the debate at the policy level. Lack of sexual and reproductive health information and services has led to an alarming situation in Pakistan where more than 40% of girls are married before the age of 18 and by the age of 19, 30% of married women of reproductive age are either pregnant or already mothers.
Similarly, HIV/AIDS and STIs appear to be the main issue of concern for young people in Pakistan. Such inadequate attention to the SRH needs of young people results in adverse consequences on the family’s sexual and reproductive health.
After the recent devolution of powers to the provinces introduced through the 18th Amendment, in the constitution of Pakistan by the previous government, several departments and ministries have been devolved and transferred from the center to the provinces.
Now, the provinces can constitute their policies in the decentralized ministries including population welfare, health, and education departments. Government institutions that are meant to safeguard the rights of citizens are fairly weak.
Bad governance and mismanagement, lethargic bureaucratic culture, dearth of resources, inefficient infrastructure, and lacuna of commitment to the social needs of the population are the elements that are stymieing the process of providing basic and equal rights to the citizens without any discrimination.
However, through YAD’s intervention, it is being expected by the provincial governments to create a conducive environment to incorporate and prioritize reproductive health concerns of adolescents and young people in the provincial health policies.
As SRHR is a broader term, here YAD going to focus on three main components to improve the SRHR needs of young people including enhancing LSBE, reducing Child Marriage, and preventing AIDS and STIs.