Two Regions, One Movement for Accountability
Five years ago, we set out on an exciting and unique journey. As part of the Millennium Development Goals, governments agreed to ensure universal access to critical reproductive health services such as contraception and care during pregnancy. While we were excited by the prominence that reproductive health had gained in the global development agenda, we also knew what it would take to realize this ambitious goal: strong coalitions of civil society leaders that are able to hold their governments accountable to their commitments.
Advocates from two diverse yet strikingly similar regions—Latin America and Eastern Europe/Central Asia—joined forces to do just that. Despite obvious cultural and political differences, both regions emerged from a legacy of disenfranchisement in which citizens had little say in creating open societies. The fate of publicly funded social services and safety nets in these regions remains insecure. Both regions also shared high levels of inequality and marked resistance to sexual and reproductive health and rights, despite abundant evidence that investments in these areas lead to better health and economic outcomes.
Through Joining Forces for Voice and Accountability—or the Voices project—these advocates achieved success. Over five years, advocates from 11 countries secured a total of 110 policy changes that expand access to vital sexual and reproductive health services and rights, directly impacting the health and well-being of 62 million individuals.
Perhaps most importantly, these advocates developed strong coalitions for sexual and reproductive health and rights in their countries, where none existed before. From the Dominican Republic to Kyrgyzstan, new movements dedicated to human rights and civic participation emerged at a time when world leaders are set to create the future global development agenda. Thanks to the Voices project, millions more will be heard within this agenda.